Hiking in Forbes State Forest

Cole Run Trail, Forbes State Forest
Length: 3 Mile Loop (take the road to finish)
Sights: Cole Run Falls, Blue Hole
Level: Moderate Hiking Trail

I had heard so much about the legendary Blue Hole that I just needed to see it. Little did I know that I had spent an obscene amount of time just 15-minutes away from it through out the summer months a few years back. Well, things happen for a reason, and I finally discovered Blue Hole and the lovely Cole Run Trail this weekend.

First up, I ran straight into Cole Run Falls, as it’s set right beyond the first trailhead. It’s definitely gorgeous and needs to be placed higher up on my Top 10 List, now that I’ve visited.

Cole Run 1

Cole Run 2

Daisy set off on the rest of the hike, and found it surprisingly empty for a sunny Saturday, late morning. I saw 2 couples in 3 miles. Driving through Ohiopyle was completely overcrowded, so this was a nice surprise. Well, halfway through, I had no idea where Blue Hole was once I got to the turn in the hike.

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I retraced my steps a couple times, to no avail. The map was not helping… and thankfully my new Blue Sube, on E (my forgetful self didn’t even look at the gas tank as I drove out there) still had 60 miles before it died. I’d drive to Blue Hole later.

To make this a loop, I walked Cole Run Road for less than a quarter of a mile back. Along the way, I was informed that walking the loop from the front was worse, and it was easier to do it the way of the trail head I just climbed out of (it was a lot of rocks, on a nice incline for a long while). Duly noted, lady!

Well, after I hopped in the Sube there was just enough service to GPS my sorry self to Blue Hole. Aaand I took a bunch of snaps of the thing and went home. Making a mental note to document before I jump in later.

 

Top 10 Waterfalls in Ohiopyle & (A Bit) Beyond

Let me start off by saying there are SO. MANY. WATERFALLS. in southwestern Pennsylvania! So much so that I initially ended my top 10 list with 16 falls (after an estimated 25 not making the cut) and realized I needed to take the driving radius down a notch. So yes, I know I have left out many. Please leave your favorites that I have forgotten in the comments for others to see (and for me to find out)!

Ohiopyle State Park

Obviously my favorite State Park gets its own section. You can probably get them all in, in one day if you like to speed hike and avoid stopping for a beer or two at the Pub.

1. Cucumber Falls ✓ – Ohiopyle State Park, PA – Meadow Run Trail

One of Ohiopyle’s main attractions, 30′ Cucumber Falls is the perfect spot for those that want the beauty of waterfall watching without the hike to go with it. Just park and climb down some well maintained steps to the base.

2. Cascades ✓ – Ohiopyle State Park, PA – Meadow Run Trail

The Cascades are located along my favorite trail, Meadow Run. It’s about a 3-mile point to point trail of easy to moderate hiking. You can get to Cucumber Falls this way as well, and you’ll pass the slides on your way. I do, however, enjoy the loop trail for after-work fun.

3. Ohiopyle Falls ✓ – Ohiopyle State Park, PA – Town of Ohiopyle

The big-kahuna focal point of Ohiopyle State Park. If you’ve never seen it, you will immediately if you’re entering town via 381 South from Route 40. Grab some ice cream from Falls Market and go enjoy the view. Oh, kayakers take on this massive waterfall, too.

4. Jonathan Run Falls ✓ – Ohiopyle State Park, PA – Jonathan Run Trail

The upper and lower falls along Jonathan Run Trail are hands down my favorite, and in my opinion the prettiest. Both are off trail. Getting to the upper falls (pictured first) is the easiest to access while the lower waterfall is a bit daunting. There are two more separate falls near Jonathan Run, in which you can see them all in 1 hike [Learn More].

5. Sugar Run Falls ✓ – Great Allegheny Passage

Waterfall | Christina Skis | Instagram

One of those waterfalls is just past mile marker 75 on the Great Allegheny Passage. On your left going towards Connellsville, there will be a sign and trail head for Mitchell Field. Go a few feet up that and you’ll arrive at Sugar Run Falls. Not to be mistaken with the assumption that it’s on Sugar Run Trail, I tried that move last year – it’s not. If you’re going by Jonathan Run way, hike through to the end and make a left onto the GAP trail, the trail head will come quickly on your left.

(A Little Bit) Beyond

I’ll admit, I’ve been to only 2 sites of the last five falls on the list, but my hype was so real while doing research, I just had to add them. Putting them on my bucket list for this summer.

6. Blackwater Falls ✓ – Blackwater Falls State Park, WV

We came here in the fall, hoping to be in the middle of peak leaf-peeping season, but were just a bit too late. Even so, the place was beautiful, Blackwater Falls was big and there’s plenty of hiking, water features and views of the gorge.  I’ll be back with better timing. Bonus:  View of Elakala Falls. You won’t be disappointed in Canaan Valley, WV.

7. Tolliver Falls ✓ – Swallow Falls State Park, MD

Canyon Loop Trail is a classic 1.5 mile loop hike that takes you pretty much immediately to the 53′ Muddy Creek Falls (not pictured), the tallest in Maryland. Swallow Falls comes next as a fun hike guides you through the park. The pretty Tolliver Falls is smaller and out of the way, but just as picturesque, along this trail. I would recommend going in the early morning, as this is one of the most crowded trails I’ve ever hiked. Well worth it, though!

8. Cole Run Falls & Blue Hole – Forbes State Forest, PA – Cole Run Trail
I have heard of the mysterious “Blue Hole” for so long that I am determined to find it. Are there two different “Blue Holes?” I found info for 2 different locations. I’ll let you know. I know some of you have been there and are probably laughing at my ignorance… Off-Trail Bonus:  Cave Falls & Barronvale Covered Bridge [Learn More]

9. Buttermilk Falls – Buttermilk Falls Natural Area, New Florence, PA
Never heard of this until I decided to write this post. Why haven’t I been here before? I have no comment for myself. Fun Fact: this 45′ waterfall is the tallest in western PA. See you soon, Buttermilk! [Learn More]

10. Jackson Falls – Roaring Run, Apollo, PA – Rock Furnace Trail
This is not mapped. Only Flat Run Falls is located on Roaring Run Natural Area’s Map. Trying to find this is going to be the most questionable for me because it is the least popular – definitely not going to be a solo trip, but it makes me want to find it even more. Has anyone been here and found these off-trail falls? [Learn More]

New falls and already experienced sites, I love every second exploring the beauty that nature has given us. Who doesn’t love a waterfall? Go out and find some.

 

I can’t believe I took these.

I am not one to toot my own horn. I always am my biggest critic. Today, for once in a blue moon, I am proud of myself. I took something I was interested in, learned it, and practiced. I am a beginner, beginner, beginner, but every time I take my camera out, there is some sort of improvement in my shots. You can see it, even within a week…

I am learning to find the right angles, light, editing, everything. Any suggestions for photography classes in the area or good blogs for tips and tricks are very much welcome.

I climbed down a cliff to get to this next waterfall. Literally, I was using roots as handholds and footholds at one point to climb back out. So that’s another thing I’m proud of. I am normally scared shitless on a new hike. I took Jonathan Run Trail to get here. Right at the intersect of this trail and Kentuck, shortly past the merging of Sugar Run, both of these falls are one after the other, sunk down into the woods, hidden from the main trail’s view.

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If you try and do this, please wear the right shoes and go with plenty of sunlight left. But, it’s totally worth it. This is my new favorite spot in Ohiopyle, although it is quite off the beaten path.

P.S. If I had gone up Sugar Run, apparently there is a third waterfall, “Fetcher Run Falls,” probably more commonly known as Sugar Run Falls. You’ll probably get that on my Instagram next week.