South-central Pennsylvania isn’t an area known for waterfalls. In fact, between the banks of the Susquehanna River in York County and the Laurel Highlands, there are only a small handful of waterfalls. However, there are a few that are worth the time to see, and Caledonia Falls in Caledonia State Park is one of these.
Caledonia State Park is located in parts of Franklin County and Adams County, and abuts Michaux State Forest. The second oldest state park still in existence (Mount Alto State Park is the oldest), Caledonia State Park was designated in 1903 to protect the site of an old iron furnace owned by U.S. Representative and noted abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens.
Stevens’ iron furnace was burned down during the Confederates’ invasion of Pennsylvania is the days leading up to the nearby Battle of Gettysburg. After the battle, the grounds were used as a makeshift hospital and the furnace was rebuilt.
Today, the park is known not only for its industrial ruins but also for its hiking trails, which include a portion of the Appalachian Trail (which is only a short distance south of the halfway point sign on the trail). However, for those that love Pennsylvania’s waterfalls, Caledonia Falls is an unexpected treat.
I say unexpected because the waterfall is barely marked on the park map and quite easy to overlook. Fortunately, the waterfall’s location directly along Pine Grove Road makes it visible to almost anyone visiting the park.
It’s hard to tell exactly how much of the waterfall is natural and how much is man-made. Conococheague Creek flows through a small pond, before traveling through the old mill race for the nearby iron furnace. Just after this stone channel, Caledonia Falls drops roughly 10 feet before entering a pipe below the roadway.
Caledonia Falls is a cascade waterfall with water running down the rocks as it drops. As the water drops, it fans out, creating a wide waterfall that even has a tree in the middle of it. While it might not be large, these features combine to create a unique and beautiful waterfall that’s worth taking the time to see if you’re traveling through the area.
How to Get to Caledonia Falls
The closest parking area to the waterfall is a large lot off of Pine Grove Road directly next to Route 30. The remains of Caledonia Furnace can be seen next to this lot. The lot can be found at the following coordinates: 39.906763, -77.478035.
To get to this waterfall, there are two options. The shortest is to walk along Pine Grove Road away from Route 30 for a very short distance. This will bring you to the base of the falls. While there is a fairly wide median along the road, use extreme caution if you opt to take this route as the road is quite busy.
You can also walk behind the furnace and up the hill to join the Thaddeus Stevens Historic Trail.
This trail is about 3/4 of a mile long and passes many remnants of the park’s historical significance. The walk to the top of Caledonia Falls is quite easy but requires walking a few feet off of the trail to see the falls. This route will take you to the top of the falls.
One option is to take the trail to the top of the falls, make your way down the falls on the worn paths next to it, and return to your car via the road.
Caledonia Falls can be found at the following coordinates: 39.907567, -77.478243.
And for even more waterfalls, check out our page full of tons of great waterfalls in Pennsylvania. You can also check out the Appalachian Trail Museum, Black-Coffey Caverns, Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum, and the Covered Bridges of Franklin County.