Exploring Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County

Trough Creek in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania.

Trough Creek State Park is a spectacular 541-acre gorge formed by Great Trough Creek as it slices through Terrace Mountain on its way towards Raystown Lake.

The view from above Raystown Lake at Hawn's Overlook.
The view from above Raystown Lake at Hawn’s Overlook.

Constructed between 1933 and 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the land that makes up Trough Creek State Park was once home to a grist mill, iron furnaces, a railroad, and timbering operations.

Now it is home to miles of hiking trails, several waterfalls and scenic overlooks, and additional geologic and man-made curiosities that make visiting Trough Creek State Park a MUST if traveling through Huntingdon County!

Trough Creek State Park sign.
Trough Creek State Park directional sign in Huntingdon County.

The purpose of this write-up is to share with you the best things to see and do at Trough Creek State Park, so that if and when you visit, you’ll know what not to miss!


The Best Things to See and Do at Trough Creek State Park

Suspension Bridge sign at Trough Creek State Park.
Sign to attractions at Trough Creek State Park.

The first three attractions I’ll mention are all conveniently located near one another, and you can consult the official park map for more detailed directions.


The Suspension Bridge over Great Trough Creek

Looking like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, the suspension bridge over Great Trough Creek carries hikers from a parking area along Trough Creek Drive towards Rainbow Falls and Balanced Rock.

The suspension bridge over Trough Creek.
The suspension bridge over Great Trough Creek.

Although it is only 10-15 feet above the creek, there is a good bit of bounce and sway to the bridge as you cross it, so be forewarned if this kind of movement makes you squeamish!

Winter at the suspension bridge over Trough Creek State Park.
Winter at the suspension bridge over Great Trough Creek.

Rainbow Falls

One of the most iconic symbols of Trough Creek State Park is Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls at Trough Creek State Park in early winter.
Rainbow Falls at Trough Creek State Park in early winter.

A popular spot year-round, this waterfall does require a good hard rain to really get it going, but if you happen to visit after just such an even, you’re in for quite a show!

Fall foliage at Rainbow Falls in Pennsylvania
Fall foliage at Rainbow Falls in Pennsylvania

Rainbow Falls is located midway between the suspension bridge and the next attraction I’ll mention, Balanced Rock.

Map to Rainbow Falls in Pennsylvania
Map to Rainbow Falls in Pennsylvania

Balanced Rock

A fascinating geologic anomaly caused by thousands of years of erosion, Balanced Rock seems to defy gravity as it hangs above the Trough Creek Gorge.

Rusty Glessner at Balanced Rock in Tough Creek State Park.
The author at Balanced Rock.

Once part of a cliff, Balanced Rock is the last remnant of that layer of bedrock, while the rest of that cliff slid into the gorge created by Great Trough Creek.

History of Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania
History of Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County.

When viewed from the Trough Creek Drive, Balanced Rock seems to levitate above the trees below!

View of Balanced Rock from parking area at Trough Creek State Park.
View of Balanced Rock from parking area at Trough Creek State Park.

While there is certainly a bit of hiking/stair climbing involved to reach Balanced Rock, it’s well worth the effort.

Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania
Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Rainbow Falls Overlook

Located high on the cliff above Rainbow Falls, Rainbow Falls Overlook features a northeasterly view of Horse Knob, and is located at GPS coordinates 40.32162, -78.13125.

Rainbow Falls Overlook along the Ledges Trail at Trough Creek State Park.
Rainbow Falls Overlook along the Ledges Trail at Trough Creek State Park.

Both Rainbow Falls Overlook and the next overlook I’ll mention are located along the Ledges Trail (see map below).

Directions to the Ledges Trail Overlook and Rainbow Falls Overlook at Trough Creek State Park.
Map to the Ledges Trail Overlook and Rainbow Falls Overlook at Trough Creek State Park.

Ledges Trail Overlook

The Ledges Trail Overlook offers an unobstructed southern view of Round Mountain in the distance.

The Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County at Trough Creek State Park.
The author at the Ledges Trail Overlook at Trough Creek State Park.

The Ledges Trail Overlook is located at GPS cooordinates 40.31953, -78.13003.

The Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County PA
The Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County.

Copperas Rocks

Another creation of erosion, Copperas Rocks juts out over Great Trough Creek live a massive stone awning.

Stream-level view of Copperas Rocks at Trough Creek State Park
Stream-level view of Copperas Rocks at Trough Creek State Park

The power of water to carve away seemingly impenetrable stone is described in an informational plaque located near Copperas Rocks.

Origin of Copperas Rocks at at Trough Creek State Park.
Origin of Copperas Rocks at at Trough Creek State Park.

Every winter, fabulous icicles dangle from Copperas Rocks, high above Great Trough Creek.

Winter at Copperas Rocks in Huntingdon County.
Winter at Copperas Rocks in Huntingdon County.

Copperas Rocks is named for the crystallized ferrous sulfate that forms on the rocks, crystals that were used to dye cloth by early settlers in the area.

Origin of the Copperas Rock name.
Origin of the Copperas Rock name.

A nearby picnic area and the large pool below it make Copperas Rocks a popular summertime spot at Trough Creek State Park.

Fall foliage at Copperas Rocks at Trough Creek State Park.
Copperas Rocks in October at Trough Creek State Park.

The Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park

The Ice Mine is yet another geologic anomaly at Trough Creek State Park.

The Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.
The Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.

While there isn’t a whole lot to see other than a small cave/hole at the bottom of a stairwell (too small to enter but large enough to stick you hand/arm in), feeling the 50 degree air inside the “mine” on a 90 degree day in the summer is certainly an interesting experience!

History of the Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.
History of the Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.

A rectangular structure along Trough Creek Drive protects the Ice Mine from the elements.

Shelter over the Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.
Shelter over the Ice Mine at Trough Creek State Park.

Great Trough Creek

Great Trough Creek itself is an impressive attraction as it winds serpent-like through the entire park, with many places to pull-off for a picnic on its banks, or just to take in the scenery.

Great Trough Creek at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County PA
Great Trough Creek at Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County PA

Other Attractions at Trough Creek State Park

As I mentioned at the outset, there are literally MILES of trails at Trough Creek State Park, many connecting to others in the surrounding Rothrock State Forest.

Trail sign at Trough Creek State Park.
Trails at Trough Creek State Park.

There are also numerous small waterfalls along Abbot Run.

Upper Rainbow Falls on Abbot Run in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania
Abbot Run at Trough Creek State Park.

The fall foliage viewing is fantastic at Trough Creek State Park!

Fall foliage at Trough Creek State Park.
Fall foliage at Trough Creek State Park.

In short – there is something for any nature lover to enjoy at Trough Creek State Park, and there are some sights unlike any you may have ever encountered anywhere else!

Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park.
Balanced Rock at Trough Creek State Park.

Nearby Attractions

The 12 Best Scenic Overlooks in Huntingdon County will introduce you to some of the finest scenic overlooks in the surrounding area.

Exploring Indian Lookout in the Rothrock State Forest.
The author at Indian Lookout in Huntingdon County.

Hiking the 1000 Steps in Huntingdon County will introduce you to perhaps the most famous hike in all of Huntingdon County.

The 1000 Steps Trailhead along Route 22 in Huntingdon County.
The 1000 Steps Trailhead along Route 22 in Huntingdon County.

The East Broad Top Railroad offers scenic train rides, shop tours, and visits to the “roundhouse” where their fleet of six historic steam engines live.

The East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

Exploring Saint Mary’s Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County will introduce youto the lone remaining covered bridge in Huntingdon County.

Saint Mary's Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County, PA
Saint Mary’s Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County, PA

The 11 Best Things to Do in Huntingdon County PA will introduce you to even more recreational opportunities in the area!

Sunrise at Whipple Dam State Park.
Sunrise at Whipple Dam State Park in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

2 COMMENTS

    • If you’re referring to the submerged railway, it’s on the western end of the lake. Part of that same railway is now the road bed for Trough Creek Drive at Trough Creek State Park.

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