Just half a mile from the Ohio border, Quaker Falls near New Castle, PA might be the westernmost waterfall in Pennsylvania.
Located along Falling Spring Creek, a tributary of the Mahoning River, this area used to be known for a small community called Quakertown, since several of the first residents were Quakers. I’ve heard that there are a few ruins and gravestones in the surrounding woods but didn’t come across anything myself other than the ruins of a gunpowder factory that sits just off of the parking lot.
While Quaker Falls, which is also known as Quakertown Falls, is located less than 100 yards from the road, its location in a deep, forested gorge makes it impossible to see from your car. In fact, until a park was recently created here, I’m sure most drivers went right by without any knowledge of the beauty that sat just feet from the road.
The waterfall itself is approximately 50 feet tall and falls in two drops, with a large shelf in the middle of the drop. This shelf gives it a look that reminds me of Buttermilk Falls in Indiana County and Round Island Run Falls in Clinton County but is otherwise a relatively unique look for the waterfalls in Pennsylvania.
The waterfall also has a beautiful plunge pool beneath it that is often a very interesting shade of green. I have no idea if this is a natural coloration to the water from plants or the result of industrial runoff, but it definitely adds another unique and beautiful touch to the falls.
When I first visited Quaker Falls in 2015, the land was owned by a local utility company, though visiting was unofficially allowed. However, shortly after my visit, the waterfall and the land surrounding it were closed to the public.
Fortunately, after several years of planning and construction, Lawrence County opened the Quaker Falls Recreation Area in October 2021, ensuring that the public would be able to visit this beautiful waterfall any time they wanted. I was hoping that this waterfall would open sooner so that I could have included it in my book, “Waterfalls of Pennsylvania”, but I’ll just have to save it for a future edition.
I finally had a chance to revisit this beautiful spot in late 2022, seven years after my first visit, and was incredibly impressed by the work done here.
While you previously had to park along the road to see this spot, there is now a parking lot with room for about 10 cars. If this is full, there does appear to still be room for a few cars along the road. Just note that both parking areas are gravel, so they are unlikely to be maintained in the winter.
The turn-off into this parking area is a bit easy to miss while driving down Route 224 (West State Street), so make sure you are paying attention as you get close.
The turn-off for the parking area can be found at the following coordinates: 41.021615, -80.511235. If you prefer an address, you can use the one for the tavern near the entrance on the opposite side of the road: 5095 W State St, Edinburg, PA 16116. (But note that this address isn’t exact.)
Directly next to the parking area is a gravel path that leads to both sides of the rim above the waterfall, as well as a bridge across Falling Spring Creek.
Along this path, there are signs that offer a bit of information related to the history and ecology of the site, which are very well done and worth taking a few minutes to read.
From the path, there are nice views of Quaker Falls, especially from the parking lot side of the creek, though they are definitely better in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees.
Sadly, there is no specific viewing platform, which is really my only main criticism of the site. It’s also not possible to see more than the very top of the waterfall from the few benches that dot the trail, though they still provide a nice place to sit while listening to the sound of Quaker Falls.
There is no official trail to the bottom of the waterfall. However, there are several user-created paths that lead very steeply to the bottom of the gorge. The signs around the area say ‘Unimproved Trails Ahead. Proceed at Your Own Risk”, so it seems that you are allowed to hike down to the base without breaking any rules.
The best trails that I have found to get down to the bottom of Quaker Falls are on the opposite side of the creek from the parking area but note that this is not an easy descent (and you will have to also come back up this steep slope). However, if you can negotiate the somewhat difficult hike and climbing around some of the fallen trees near the waterfall’s base, this one is well worth the trouble to see.
During my first visit, after checking out the waterfall from the base, I decided to venture downstream to see if there was anything else worth seeing. There is no map of the park, but from looking at property records for the county, I believe that the land below the waterfall is public land. That being said, if you do head downstream from the main waterfall please respect any private property signs that you might see.
Working my way downstream was challenging at times, thanks to debris along the creek, but I followed the creek for several hundred yards. In the end, I didn’t see anything of note, though it was a very beautiful hike and well worth the effort simply to see the beauty of the area.
Overall, Quaker Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls to visit in the Pittsburgh area, and I’m so happy that it’s reopened to the public after being closed for several years. If you love PA waterfalls, definitely add this spot to your list of places to visit.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]