Exploring Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

The Hidden Waterfall That's Worth the Search!

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Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.

A Hidden Waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park?

Visiting Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park requires a bit of detective work. After all, it doesn’t appear on any “official” park maps.

But rest assured, it does exist.

And in the following paragraphs I’m going to tell you exactly how to find it.

So if you enjoy a good “treasure hunt”, read on!


Grindstone Falls FAQs

Where is Grindstone Falls located?

Grindstone Falls is located in the southeastern portion of McConnells Mill State Park (Lawrence County).

How tall is Grindstone Falls?

Approximately 8 feet tall.Fall foliage surrounding Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

Can I navigate to Grindstone Falls using GPS?

Yes – the GPS coordinates for Grindstone Falls are 40.915499, -80.194653

Is the trail to Grindstone Falls blazed?

The trail is not blazed, but is well-worn and obvious. Despite not being on the “official” park map people have clearly been visiting Grindstone Falls for many, many years.


Getting There

How to Find Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

  1. Navigate to the intersection of Mountville Road and Nye Road, 3 miles west of Portersville.

    The parking area for visiting Grindstone Falls is located 400 feet east of the intersection of Mountville Road and Nye road at the following GPS coordinates: 40.911096, – 80.195421. A map showing the parking area and trail head for visiting Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

  2. From the parking area along Mountville Road, walk 400 feet west along the lightly-traveled road to the crest of the hill and a road leading to a cell phone tower pad.

    The parking area to use when visiting Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

  3. At the crest of the hill you will see this gated road leading to the cell phone tower. Walk around the gate and towards the tower. DO NOT park in front of or otherwise block the gate.

    The gated road leading to the cell phone tower and trail head for Grindstone Falls hike.

  4. Proceed to the back left corner of the gravel cell phone tower pad.

    The trail to Grindstone Falls begins here.The trail to Grindstone Falls begins at the back left corner of cell phone tower pad shown here.

  5. Hike 0.3 miles through open hardwoods along the unblazed but well-worn trail.

    The unblazed but well-worn trail to use when visiting Grindstone Falls.

  6. At 0.3 miles the trail bears rather sharply to the right and enters a hemlock grove.

    Hiking data from visiting Grindstone Falls.

  7. At 0.4 miles arrive at Grindstone Falls.

    Hiking at a comfortable pace and stopping to take a few cell phone shots along the way, I normally cover this distance in just under 10 minutes. A downstream view of Grindstone Falls.


Photographing Grindstone Falls

The author visiting Grindstone Falls.
The author visiting Grindstone Falls.

To get the best look at Grindstone Falls you’ll want to get down to stream level.

There are several spots along the right side of stream (same side the trail is on) where you can pick your way down the bank to Grindstone Run.

Or you can simply cross the top of the falls (Grindstone Run is very shallow above the falls) and drop in from the opposite side of the stream.

A side view of Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park.
A side view of Grindstone Falls at McConnells Mill State Park.

From the right side you can get a close look at the layers upon layers of rock that make up the stream bed.

A middle-of-the-stream view of Grindstone Falls.
A middle-of-the-stream view of Grindstone Falls.

I’d feel comfortable saying Grindstone Falls is a good 8 feet tall, and 10-12 feet wide.

Grindstone Falls in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
Grindstone Falls in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.

Downstream from Grindstone Falls are many picturesque cascades.

Grindstone Run at McConnells Mill State Park
Grindstone Run at McConnells Mill State Park

As with any waterfall hike, use caution and tread carefully when hiking the Grindstone Run stream bed.

Cascades on Grindstone Run at McConnells Mill State Park
Cascades on Grindstone Run at McConnells Mill State Park

Once you’ve had your fill of Grindstone Falls, simply retrace your steps back up the hill from the falls to Mountville Road and your vehicle.

For a waterfall that doesn’t “officially” exist, Grindstone Falls is one exceptional little spot at McConnells Mill State Park!



Nearby Attractions

Speaking of exceptional spots, Hell’s Hollow Falls is a mere 10 minute drive from the Grindstone Falls parking area.

The two tiers of Hell's Hollow Falls.
The two tiers of Hell’s Hollow Falls.

And 35 foot Alpha Falls is the tallest waterfall at McConnells Mill State Park.

Rusty Glessner at Alpha Falls at McConnells Mill State Park
The author at Alpha Falls at McConnells Mill State Park

Be sure to check out 6 Must-See Attractions at McConnells Mill State Park for more travel ideas.

McConnells Mill and Covered Bridge at McConnells Mill State Park.
McConnells Mill and Covered Bridge at McConnells Mill State Park.

Looking for More Western Pennsylvania Waterfalls?

Freedom Falls is approximately 45 minutes north of McConnells Mill State Park in Venango County.

Freedom Falls along Rockland Station Road in Venango County.
Freedom Falls along Rockland Station Road in Venango County.

Rapp Run Falls is also to the north in Clarion County.

Rapp Run Falls in Clarion County PA
Rapp Run Falls in Clarion County, Pennsylvania.

And Logan Falls is located to the north in Forest County.

Logan Falls near Marienville Pennsylvania
Logan Falls near Marienville in Forest County, Pennsylvania.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Rusty – If you return to Grindstone Falls, take the time to hike downstream about 5-10 minutes. There are a number of cascades in a narrow gorge with photographic potential. See my website for some examples taken in the Fall 2018. FYI, I live 15 minutes from McConnells Mill State Park and invite you to join me in the Spring when waterflow is likely best. There are numerous unnamed falls in the park to explore!

    • Thanks Charles! I have been downstream several times and photographed some of those features you speak of. You’re right – it’s a great little gorge to explore!

  2. This was one of the most tick infested areas we’ve ever been to. I would recommend changing clothes and shower asap after. Everyone we went with that didn’t check right away had one attached to their leg found later on. It was nice once we found it, but we left after we heard shots over the hill a little too close for comfort, most likely turkey season in the surrounding farmers fields. I’d like to check out some of the other unnamed falls sometime! There are many from Ellwood City all the way up to Slippery Rock. I heard there was a waterfall somewhere past Rose Point Campground that I’ve never found. It might possibly be on the slippery rock creek. I will have to check to see if it’s listed on here. I’m glad to of found this page for some other places to explore in the state!

    • Pennsylvania in general is tick central. I ended up on antibiotics twice last year for tick-borne anaplasmosis, despite taking all the sensible precautions while hiking. Glad you found Grindstone though. It’s a nice spot.

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