Pennsylvania Waterfalls: Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls in Raccoon Creek State Park
Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County is one of the largest state parks in Pennsylvania. While the park is home to miles of hiking trails, an amazing wildflower reserve, and a beautiful lake, one of my favorite spots is the beautiful Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls.
Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls is located in the middle of this beautiful state park with the trailhead for the hike just off of Route 18. While it’s not as close to downtown Pittsburgh as Fall Run Falls, this corner of Raccoon Creek State Park is located only about 30 miles west of the city and is located just a few miles from Pittsburgh International Airport. It’s also one of the closest waterfalls to Pittsburgh.
The spring located adjacent to the falls used to be the focal point of Frankfort House Hotel and Resort. First built in the mid-1800s, wealthy visitors would come to the resort to drink from its springs that supposedly cured everything from indigestion to kidney disorders.
The resort would be upgraded a few times before eventually closing after a devastating fire in the late 1920s. The on-site dance hall remained, however, and was used as a social hall and performance venue for several more decades.
The land on which the resort stood was eventually purchased by the state in the 1960s to expand Raccoon Creek State Park, which had opened in 1945.
Today, visitors to the area can take a short hike to see part of the ruins of the hotel, the mineral springs, and this beautiful waterfall.
The Mineral Springs Trail takes visitors from the parking area on Route 18 back to the U-shaped grotto where the falls and spring are located.
Traveling clockwise around this one-mile loop trail, the trail follows along the banks of the creek. If you visit during the spring, this trail may be covered in wildflowers, with both purple and white trillium being common here.
While not long, the hike along the creek is very scenic.
In only about five minutes, you’ll come to the grotto where both Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls and the spring itself are located.
Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls is only about 8-10 feet in height, but it is quite beautiful to watch the water plunge from the stone chute above onto the rocks below. The area around the falls is wide open, and while it can be slippery, it’s possible to walk up to and even around the falls.
Just to the right of the falls is the mineral springs. The high iron content in the water has left orange streaks along the stone walls from where the spring erupts. While some do drink this water, it’s worth noting that it’s not monitored for cleanliness and thus is not considered potable.
After finishing at the falls and the spring, continue to follow the trail back out of the grotto and up the hill away from the creek.
Once you reach the top, the ruins of one of the resort’s buildings is located directly ahead.
From this point, you have two options for returning to your car. Turning to your right will take you down an old access road and straight down the hill to your car.
However, I always opt for the more scenic route, so I continued straight past the old foundation and back into the woods. This is part of the Mineral Springs Loop and follows the trail north for a short distance, before doubling back and heading south back towards the parking area.
The middle part of this trail is a bit unexciting, but once it descends down the hill, the trail follows a beautiful stream back to the parking area.
Overall, the hike to Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls is one of the best short hikes in the Pittsburgh area. While the waterfall might not be as big as some in the region, it is a beautiful spot along a very scenic trail that’s filled with history.
That makes it a great destination in my book.
How to Get to Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls
The parking area for the falls is located along Route 18 at the following coordinates: 40.497843, -80.427756.
From this parking area, follow the small trail that goes along the creek until it reaches the grotto with Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls. The hike to the falls should take less than 10 minutes.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]
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See map below for other area attractions.[webdirectory-map height=500 ajax_loading=1 start_latitude=40.498453 start_longitude=-80.431147 start_zoom=12 show_readmore_button=0]
Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited, written about, and photographed all 67 counties in the state. He has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.