Exploring the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County

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A summertime view of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Somerset County, PA.

The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Somerset County is perhaps Pennsylvania’s most iconic covered bridge.

But even icons need a facelift once in a while!

The Pack Saddle Bridge being restored in May 2020
The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge during restoration in May 2020.

And in April/May of 2020, what is arguably the most beautiful covered bridge in all of PA underwent a rehabilitation project.

The Pack Saddle Bridge refurbishing project in May 2020.
The Pack Saddle Bridge refurbishing project in May 2020.

The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge had suffered a considerable amount of insect damage over the past few years.

Pack Saddle Bridge construction progress as of May 2020
Pack Saddle Bridge restoration project in May 2020

The fact that this is a bridge still very much in use for vehicular traffic made the repairs a matter of public safety.

Replacement beams at the Pack Saddle Bridge on Somerset County Pennsylvania
Replacement beams at the Pack Saddle Bridge on Somerset County Pennsylvania

Thankfully, the repairs were made with the original aesthetics and historical authenticity in mind as well.

The Pack Saddle Bridge undergoing refurbishing in May 2020
The Pack Saddle Bridge undergoing refurbishing in May 2020

Of course photos of the beloved waterfall beneath the Pack Saddle Bridge looked a little strange in the interim.

Waterfall at the Pack Saddle Bridge near Fairhope PA May 2020
Waterfall at the Pack Saddle Bridge near Fairhope PA May 2020

Although I admit as a photographer, having the chance to document such an historic event was exciting.

Waterfall beneath the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County PA May 2020
Waterfall beneath the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County PA May 2020

Repairs to the Pack Saddle Bridge were finished ahead of schedule and it is now back in service.

And soon this idyllic setting, nestled down in the Brush Creek valley near Fairhope, will once again bustle with visitors.

Fall foliage starting to turn in the Laurel Highlands at the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Fall foliage starting to turn in the Laurel Highlands at the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Waterfalls at the Pack Saddle Bridge

If you have never been to the Pack Saddle Bridge, there is one thing that sets it apart from all others in Pennsylvania.

Waterfalls!

The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge - quite possibly the most beautiful covered bridge in Pennsylvania.
Waterfalls beneath the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Somerset County.

Frothy and surging when Brush Creek is swollen by heavy rain.

Summer downpours in the Laurel Highlands mean huge flow on Brush Creek and the waterfalls beneath the Pack Saddle Bridge.
Summer downpours in the Laurel Highlands mean huge flow on Brush Creek and the waterfalls beneath the Pack Saddle Bridge.

Sluggish and COLD in the Laurel Highlands winter!

The partially frozen waterfalls on Brush Creek beneath the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge.
The partially frozen waterfalls on Brush Creek beneath the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge.

Sometimes seeming to literally grind to a halt in February, although the current is always moving beneath the ice and snow.

A hard winter freeze at the Pack Saddle Bridge in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
A hard winter freeze at the Pack Saddle Bridge in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Fishing here below the waterfalls at the Pack Saddle Bridge is a rite of passage for locals.

A lone fisherman on Brush Creek below the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Somerset County, PA.
A lone fisherman on Brush Creek below the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Somerset County, PA.

The Pack Saddle Bridge is also a tremendously popular setting for senior portraits and engagement photos.

The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge is an extremely popular spot for senior portraits and engagement photos.
The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge is an extremely popular spot for senior portraits and engagement photos.

Even the view from upstream is almost Currier and Ives perfect.

A wintertime view f the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge near Fairhope, Somerset County, PA.
A wintertime view of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge near Fairhope, Somerset County, PA.

There really is no bad angle to photograph the Pack Saddle Bridge from.

When asking "What is the best covered bridge in Pennsylvania" it's hard not to put the Pack Saddle Bridge near the top of the list.
When asking “What is the most scenic covered bridge in Pennsylvania” it’s hard not to put the Pack Saddle Bridge near the top of the list.

But it’s the downstream view, with the bridge framed by sky, hemlocks, and waterfalls, that sets the Pack Saddle Bridge apart from every other covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

On a snowy winter day the red sides of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge jump out like in no other season.
On a snowy winter day the red sides of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge jump out like in no other season.

How to Find the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge

Most visitors to the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge arrive by turning off of Route 31/Glades Pike, travelling 5.5 miles on Glen Savage Road, then turning right onto Pine Valley Road and descending the hill roughly 1/3 of a mile to the bridge (just follow the sign indicating a bridge ahead).

A map showing the location of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Fairhope Township, Somerset County, PA.
A map showing the location of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge in Fairhope Township, Somerset County, PA.

GPS coordinates for the Pack Saddle Bridge are 39.867592, -78.817354.

A late springtime view of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge and the waterfalls on Brush Creek beneath it.
A late springtime view of the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge and the waterfalls on Brush Creek beneath it.

An informational monument is located near the eastern side of the bridge.

Monument at the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County Pennsylvania
Monument at the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The Pack Saddle Bridge Mystique

For nearly 150 years (since 1870) the Pack Saddle Bridge has been both a necessity for travel in the area, as well as a source of pride and identity in the Laurel Highlands.

Whether the unknown builder/builders intentionally laid this bridge out with aesthetics in mind (in addition to the practical necessity of getting across Brush Creek) we’ll never know.

But certainly all who have stopped to gaze upon the bridge, or cast a line beneath it, or snap a photo of it owe a debt of gratitude to the builders.

The waters of Brush Creek tumble over rocks beneath the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge, as they have for nearly 150 years.
The waters of Brush Creek tumble over rocks beneath the Pack Saddle Covered Bridge, as they have for nearly 150 years.

The Pack Saddle Covered Bridge – perhaps Pennsylvania’s most beautiful covered bridge.

Put it on your PA Bucket List!


Looking for more Somerset County Covered Bridges?

Barronvale Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in Somerset County, at 162 feet.

A late summer/early autumn view of Barronvale Covered Bridge and Laurel Hill Creek in Somerset County, PA
A late summer/early autumn view of Barronvale Covered Bridge and Laurel Hill Creek in Somerset County, PA

Lower Humbert Covered Bridge is the southernmost covered bridge in Somerset County.

Autumn at Lower Humbert Covered Bridge

Glessner Covered Bridge is on the outskirts of Shanksville, near the Flight 93 Memorial.

The Glessner Covered Bridge near Shanksville Pennsylvania
The Glessner Covered Bridge near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Kings Covered Bridge is a great spot for a creekside picnic, with a covered pavillion right next to the bridge.

An autumn reflection of Kings Covered Bridge.
An autumn reflection of Kings Covered Bridge.

Nearby Attractions

If waterfalls are your thing, be sure to check out my guide to the 20 must-see waterfalls in the Laurel Highlands.

Selfie at Lower Jonathan Run Falls, Ohiopyle State Park

If scenic vistas are your thing, be sure to check out Beam Rocks Overlook in the Forbes State Forest, Somerset County.

An October morning at Beam Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.
An October morning at Beam Rocks in the Forbes State Forest.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Rusty,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts about Pack Saddle! I’ve been there many times and it is indeed my favorite of Somerset County covered bridges.

    I love to photograph it and have descended the steep sides to get the waterfalls from below. I just wonder how you photograph from the other side which is where you must’ve been for the shots of high water … torrents as you explain. I’ve never shot from that side. Your photograph actually looks like you put yourself in a dangerous spot? In any case, thanks for the white up and the new website!

    • Simply walk around the white fence and you’ll see a trail leading to the spot where I sat for those photos. Not dangerous at all – well above the stream. Probably hundreds if not thousands of people have sat in that same spot for senior portraits, engagement photos, etc. If you have a wide angle lens that is the best choice from that angle, if you want to get the entire bridge and most of the falls in the shot. Thanks for checking out the site!

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