If you’re looking for the best things to see and do at McConnell’s Mill State Park, you’re in the right place!
McConnell’s Mill State Park, roughly 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, is home to a slew of outstanding hikes, overlooks, waterfalls, and historic structures.
Here are six of my favorite things to do on a day trip to McConnell’s Mill State Park.
1. Tour McConnell’s Mill
The namesake of the park, the first gristmill on this site was built in 1852, and then rebuilt in 1868 after the first was destroyed by fire.
Thomas McConnell bought the mill in 1875, and improved it by replacing the waterwheel with water turbines and the grinding stones with cylindrical roller mills.
As one of the first roller mills in the country, it processed corn, oats, wheat, and buckwheat for local customers.
The mill operated until 1928, was conveyed to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1946, and officially became McConnell’s Mill State Park in October of 1957.
The McConnell’s Mill Heritage Festival, held every September, is a great time to tour the historic grist mill and see it in operation.
In 2022, the McConnell’s Mill Heritage Festival is being held on September 24th and 25th.
There is a parking area located next to McConnell’s Mill at GPS coordinates 40.95305, -80.17038.
There are several observation decks near the mill, including this one upstream that also gives you a picturesque side view of McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge.
And if you can’t make it to the McConnell’s Mill Heritage Festival, you can still see the mill in operation on select days in the summer months.
2. Visit McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge
McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1874 and is one of the longest Howe-style truss bridges in Pennsylvania.
A registered National Historic Landmark, the bridge is on state park land but is the property of Lawrence County.
McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge spans Slippery Rock Creek and is still open to traffic.
The bridge was extensively rehabilitated in 2016, and hopefully will continue to carry park traffic for many years to come.
3. Visit Alpha Falls
Alpha Falls is a 35 foot waterfall lies on a small tributary of Slippery Rock Creek (close to the grist mill and covered bridge) and usually requires a heavy downpour to get it flowing well.
It’s also an outstanding spot to photograph ice formations in the winter.
You can find a map / directions / GPS coordinates for Alpha Falls in my complete write-up about it HERE.
4. Visit Cleland Rock Scenic Vista
Cleland Rock Scenic Vista looks out over the Slippery Rock Gorge, which forms the heart of McConnell’s Mill State Park.
There is a parking lot located right next to the overlook at GPS coordinates 40.92705, -80.18537.
5. Hike to Hell’s Hollow Falls
Hell’s Hollow Falls is a picturesque 18 foot waterfall that lies at the end of a mostly flat half-mile hike.
You can find out how Hell’s Hollow Falls got its name, as well as see a map to the parking area and falls in my complete write-up about it HERE.
6. Hike to Grindstone Falls
Some folks call Grindstone Falls the “hidden” waterfall at McConnell’s Mill State Park, as it doesn’t appear on the official park map.
Grindstone Falls lies on Grindstone Run, another tributary of Slippery Rock Creek.
You’ll find a map, directions, and GPS coordinates for the parking area for Grindstone Falls in my complete write-up on the subject HERE.
Quaker Falls is a 50 foot-tall waterfall in the newly-created Quaker Falls Recreation Area in Lawrence County.
Buttermilk Falls is located in neighboring Beaver County, and is one of a handful of Pennsylvania waterfalls that you can stand BEHIND!
Moraine State Park is a 16,725-acre recreational area located in neighboring Butler County.
Big Run Falls in nearby New Castle is a 20 foot tall waterfall at the heart of an abandoned amusement park turned nature park.
Springfield Falls is a beautiful roadside waterfall in neighboring Mercer County.
Playthings Etc. is a stealth bomber-shaped toy store along Route 8 in Butler County, billed by the owners as “The World’s Coolest Toy Store”!
The Fountain of Youth really does exist, and you can find it in a public park just north of Pittsburgh!
Looking for even more waterfalls near Pittsburgh?
The be sure to check out 12 Must-See Waterfalls in Western Pennsylvania.
Or you can head east a bit take in the 10 Must-See Waterfalls at Ohiopyle State Park.
The Best Waterfalls Near Pittsburgh Road Trip is an epic 358 mile round-trip adventure of a lifetime!
Discover directions to HUNDREDS of waterfalls from all corners of the Keystone State in my Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide!
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