Hiking the Bradford Falls Trail in Bradford County

Downstream view of Bradford Falls on State Game Lands 36.

The Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County is a 1.6 mile out-and-back hike to three incredible waterfalls and one real-life “bat cave”, all situated in a rugged forest area rich in mining and logging history.

Laquin Falls along the Bradford Falls Trail is named for the former lumber town of Laquin.
Laquin Falls along the Bradford Falls Trail is named for the former lumber town of Laquin.

As with any hike on State Game Lands, be sure to observe the PA Game Commission’s blaze orange clothing requirements relevant to the time of year you are visiting.

state Game Lands 36 sign in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
State Game Lands 36 sign in Bradford County.

And while this is a relatively short hike, it’s rather strenuous with over 600 feet of elevation gain from beginning to end, and features rocky and slippery terrain in many places along the trail.

So dress and plan accordingly!


How to Find the Bradford Falls Trail

The Bradford Falls trail head is located along Schrader Creek Road in Bradford County, the closest town of note being the village of Leroy eight miles to the north and west.

The single-lane bridge over Falls Creek along Schrader Creek Road in Bradford County.
The single-lane bridge over Falls Creek along Schrader Creek Road in Bradford County.

If navigating by GPS (which I recommend), use coordinates 41.64131, -76.59343 to find the Bradford Falls Trail parking lot, next to the single-lane bridge over Falls Creek along Schrader Creek Road.

The Bradford Falls Trail parking lot next to the bridge over Falls Creek.
The Bradford Falls Trail parking lot next to the bridge over Falls Creek along Schrader Creek Road.

A rather “colorful” (and unofficial) trail register is located at the back of the parking area.

Trail register at the Bradford Falls Trail parking lot.
Trail register at the Bradford Falls Trail parking lot.

The person who takes a pull off of this bottle will never have to prove their bravery in any other way ever again!

The colorful contents of the Bradford Falls Trail registry box at the parking area.
The colorful contents of the unofficial Bradford Falls trail registry box at the parking area.

The Bradford Falls Trail itself begins 150 yards to the west of the parking lot, where an old forest road intersects with Schrader Creek Road.

The start of the Bradford Falls Trail at its intersection with Schrader Creek Road.
The start of the Bradford Falls Trail at its intersection with Schrader Creek Road.

Hiking the Bradford Falls Trail

The first part of the hike utilizes the unblazed old forest road as it steadily progresses uphill towards the waterfalls.

A map of the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County, PA.
A map of the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County, PA.

At approximately 0.4 miles into the hike, you’ll cross of a small, unnamed tributary of Falls Creek.

The wet crossing of a small unnamed stream along the Bradford Falls Trail.
The wet crossing of a small unnamed stream along the Bradford Falls Trail.

Just beyond this small stream crossing, you’ll enter a clearing in the forest, where the remnants of human activity in the form of scrap metal, stone retaining walls, and piles of coal are evident.

At the back right corner of the clearing (when facing uphill), you’ll leave the forest road and bear right past a stacked stone wall, following a fairly obvious user trail downhill towards Falls Creek.

A stacked-stone wall landmark near the midpoint of the Bradford Falls Trail in Bradford County.
A stacked-stone wall landmark near the midpoint of the Bradford Falls Trail.

Carefully make your way downhill towards the Falls Creek, where the trail proceeds to hug the left bank of the stream as you make your way upstream.

The Bradford Falls Trail as it hugs the bank along Falls Creek below Bradford Falls.
The Bradford Falls Trail as it hugs the left bank along Falls Creek below Bradford Falls.

Approximately 0.6 miles into your hike, you’ll encounter some magnificent cascades as the upper half of Bradford Falls come into view.

Cascade below Bradford Falls on Falls Creek in Bradford County.
Cascade below Bradford Falls on Falls Creek in Bradford County.

Bradford Falls

Bradford Falls is nearly 70 feet tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Pennsylvania!

Bradford Falls running high after heavy spring rains.
Bradford Falls running high after heavy spring rains.

On the day these photos were taken, Bradford Falls was surging with flow from heavy spring rains the day before, meaning the only good photo ops without getting drenched in spray were from well downstream.

Approaching the 70 foot-tall Bradford Falls on State Game Lands 36.
Approaching the 70 foot-tall Bradford Falls on State Game Lands 36.

Be sure to check out the video at the end of this write-up to see and hear Bradford Falls in all its glory!


Barclay Falls

Immediately above Bradford Falls is another 30 foot-tall beauty known as Barclay Falls.

Downstream view of Barclay Falls on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County Pennsylvania.
Downstream view of Barclay Falls on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County.

The easiest way to get to Barclay Falls is to backtrack downstream a hundred yards or so from Bradford Falls,and then make your way uphill in the direction of the old forest road, veering right, up and around Bradford Falls before veering back down to stream-level below Barclay Falls.

Standing below Barclay Falls means you are also literally standing at the top of Bradford Falls, so use caution, but enjoy the view!

View from the top of Bradford Falls, looking south towards Schrader Creek Road.
View from the top of Bradford Falls, looking south towards Schrader Creek Road.

From the base of Barclay Falls, backtrack up the slope you just descended and pick up the old forest road again.

If you want to, it’s easy to quickly pop down to the top of Barclay Falls to experience a view similar to the one from the top of Bradford Falls.

View from the top of Barclay Falls along Falls Creek in Bradford County.
View from the top of Barclay Falls along Falls Creek in Bradford County.

Back on the forest road, follow it uphill another 0.1 miles, until you encounter a low stone wall across the road.

Stone wall marking the northern end of the Bradford Falls Trail.
Stone wall marking the northern end of the Bradford Falls Trail.

The stone wall marks the top of the Bradford Falls Trail.

To your right will be Laquin Falls, to your left will be the “bat cave“.


Laquin Falls

Laquin Falls is a 15 foot-tall waterfall named after a lumbertown that existed nearby in the early 1900s.

Laquin Falls along Falls Creek in Bradford County, PA
Laquin Falls along Falls Creek in Bradford County.

Aside from the three main waterfalls mentioned here, the entire length of Falls Creek is flush with picturesque cascades, so don’t be afraid to explore other stretches of the stream as well.

Falls Creek along the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36.
Falls Creek along the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36.

The Bat Cave Along the Bradford Falls Trail

Near the top of the Bradford Falls Trail, an old mine shaft has been repurposed into a bat habitat.

The bat cave along the Bradford Falls Trail near the northern end of the trail.
The bat cave along the Bradford Falls Trail near the northern end of the trail.

As mentioned earlier, this entire area was a hotbed of coal mining activity in the late 1800s, which was followed by years of extensive lumbering activity in the early 1900s that left the forest decimated, until the Civilian Conservation Corps began reforestation efforts here during the Great Depression.

Peering into the bat cave along the Bradford Falls Trail.
Peering into the bat cave along the Bradford Falls Trail.

So it’s nice to see some of these scars on the forest are now being put to good use as critical wildlife habitat.

Signs posted near the entrance to the bat cave along Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County, PA.
Signs posted near the entrance to the bat cave along Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County, PA.

Please heed the posted signs and do not enter the cave or disturb the bats!


The Return Hike

When you’ve had your fill of sights and sounds along the Bradford Falls Trail, simply follow the forest road all the way back downhill to Schrader Creek Road where you parked.

The old forest road that composes much of the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36.
The old forest road that composes much of the Bradford Falls Trail on State Game Lands 36.

Still not convinced you need to hike the Bradford Falls Trail?

Then check out this video!


Nearby Attractions

Holcomb Falls is a gorgeous roadside waterfall located approximately 7 miles north of the Bradford Falls Trail, near the village of Leroy.

Springtime at Holcomb Falls in Bradford County Pennsylvania.
Springtime at Holcomb Falls in Bradford County.

Deep Hollow Falls is another easy-to-reach waterfall on State Game Lands 36 in Bradford County.

The author at Deep Hollow Falls in Bradford County PA
The author at Deep Hollow Falls in Bradford County

Thomas Run Falls is yet another outstanding Bradford County waterfall, located on State Game Lands 12 near the ghost town of Laquin.

The mossy, rocky gorge around Thomas Run Falls on State Game Lands 12 in Bradford County.
The mossy, rocky gorge around Thomas Run Falls on State Game Lands 12 in Bradford County.

The McIntyre Wild Area is home to more than a dozen exceptional waterfalls, all located off-trail and south of Bradford Falls in a remote section of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Two photographers enjoying the scenery at Hounds Run Falls in the Loyalsock State Forest.
Two photographers enjoying the scenery at Hounds Run Falls in the Loyalsock State Forest.

The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide is your source for directions to HUNDREDS of waterfalls across the Keystone State!

The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfall Guide created by Rusty Glessner
The Ultimate Pennsylvania Waterfalls Guide by Rusty Glessner.

Did you enjoy this article?

If so, be sure to like and follow PA Bucket List on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to stay up-to-date on my latest write-ups.

Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media!


Pennsylvania’s Best Travel Blog!

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

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here