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How to Get to Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls in Clinton County, PA

I’ve been to a lot of waterfalls in Pennsylvania and around the world, but I don’t think I’ve ever visited a set of waterfalls quite like Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls in Clinton County.

Located a short distance off I-80 near Loganton, PA, these two waterfalls face each other, creating one of the most unusual hollows you’ll find anywhere. In fact, I can’t think of anywhere in Pennsylvania where two waterfalls come together in such a way.

Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls dropping into the same hollow in Clinton County PA
Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls drop into the same hollow.

Another thing that makes this area so unique is that the two waterfalls are different types and have different levels of water flow since they are on two different creeks. However, they are both roughly the same height, at around 20 feet tall.

While reaching the top of these waterfalls isn’t difficult or a long hike, things are made tricky because of some surrounding private property. Fortunately, if you follow the directions below, you can see these waterfalls while staying on public land the entire time.

Parking for Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls

Parking area for Rosecrans Falls in Clinton County Pennsylvania
Parking along the road but make sure to not block either gate.

To visit these two waterfalls you’ll want to park on the side of the road at the intersection of Spruce Run Road and Nittany Ridge Road at the following coordinates: 41.074226, -77.328539.

Both of these roads are gravel roads, but, as of the summer of 2022, they are in excellent condition and there is no issue getting any type of vehicle down here. That being said, I would hesitate to visit in a non-four-wheeled-drive vehicle during the winter months as the road might not be well maintained.

When parking, make sure that you don’t block the road or either of the two gates here to be respectful of locals using the roads.

[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.] 

Hiking to Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls

Gravel Road in Clinton County PA
Walk down this road towards the trailhead.

There are several ways that you could reach Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls, but there is only one relatively short way that stays entirely on public land. In this case, it’s land owned by the Lock Haven City Authority, and it is open for visitors to hike on. This land is also open for hunting, so wearing orange during hunting seasons is recommended.

It’s worth noting that this land is protected as part of the William H. Ohl Reservoir, which is part of the region’s drinking water, so make sure to respect this land and keep it clean.

To start your hike, do not take either gated road. Instead, you want to hike away from the yellow-gated road with the green information sign. This will have you walking north on Nittany Ridge Road. If you came from I-80, this is continuing away from the road you drove in on.

Trailhead for the hike to Rosecrans Falls near Lock Haven PA
The unmarked trailhead for the hike to the waterfalls.

About 200 feet down the road, you’ll cross over a small creek. Don’t worry if it’s not running well. During my second visit, this water near the road was shallow and nearly stagnant and yet the waterfall was still flowing reasonably well.

Just after you cross the stream, you should notice an obvious but unmarked trail heading into the woods to your right. This is the trail that you want to follow downstream to the waterfalls. As long as you keep this stream on your right, you will be on public land the entire way.

There is no need to cross the stream at any point of the hike to the base of the waterfalls. That being said, once you reach the bottom of the hollow, you may struggle to keep your feet dry if you want to explore the area at the base of the waterfalls, so keep that in mind when selecting your shoes.

Trail to Rosecrans Falls in PA
The trail is unmarked but easy to follow and quite scenic. (Note that this is looking upstream, which is why it appears I’m on the wrong side of the stream.)

This trail remains unmarked for its entire length, but it’s very well defined and simply follows the stream, so it’s not really possible to get lost.

This hike is quite pleasant and you only lose about 40 feet of elevation, so it’s an easy hike. All told, from the parking area to the top of Rosecrans falls is 0.3 miles according to my GPS.

The view from the top of Rosecrans Falls in Clinton County PA
The view from the top of Rosecrans Falls.

While getting to the top of the waterfall is easy, getting to the base of the waterfalls is a bit tricky. If you turn left at the top of Rosecrans Falls, you will see a variety of options for getting down to the creek over the next 200 or so feet.

Generally speaking, things appear to get a bit easier the further downstream you go, but there is no super easy way to get down to the base here, though it’s also not overly difficult if you take your time and don’t mind using your hands a bit. However, those with limited mobility or hiking with younger children might have difficulty here.

Trail to the bottom of Rosecrans Falls in Pennsylvania
There is no easy way to the bottom of the hollow, but it’s not overly difficult if you take your time.

Ultimately, take whatever path down to the base of the hollow seems to best to you on that given day. If you can’t make it down to the bottom, the view from the top of Rosecrans Falls is still quite magnificent and you can see both waterfalls from this spot.

Again, it’s worth noting that the opposite side of the stream you are hiking on is private property, so don’t cross the stream and try to head down on that side.

A side view of Rosecrans Falls near McElhattan Reservoir
A side view of Rosecrans Falls.

Once you are down to creek level, the true beauty of this spot fully comes into focus.

Facing the waterfalls from downstream, McElhattan Falls will be on your left. This waterfall is directly downstream of the reservoir and flows along McElhattan Creek. It should be noted that this waterfall lies entirely on private property and should only be observed from a distance.

McElhattan Falls in Clinton County PA
Looking at McElhattan Falls from a distance.

Depending on the flow of the water, this waterfall can either have a series of steps or appear to be more of a cascading waterfall. There is a fallen tree stretching across this waterfall that seems to have been there for a very long time given that it’s still in roughly the same spot that it was when I first visited this spot in 2015.

Opposite McElhattan Falls, you find Rosecrans Falls (which is on public property). Here, water cascades over near vertical steps to a shallow pool below.

Rocks in front of Rosecrans Falls in Clinton County PA
Rosecrans Falls is a stunning waterfall.

This is actually my favorite of the two waterfalls, and it is quite a stunning sight. Since this waterfall is on public property, you can get as close to it as you’d like, so make sure to take some time to enjoy this spot.

Once you’ve had your fill of this spot, simply retrace your steps to return to your car.

Rosecrans Falls in Loganton, Pennsylvania.
Rosecrans Falls with higher flow during my first visit to the area.

Overall, Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls combine together to create one of the most stunning spots I’ve come across in PA. And, as long as you are sure to be careful and avoid the nearby private property, this is a fun and easy spot to explore that’s definitely worth adding to your list of spots to explore in the Susquehanna Region of PA.

Looking for more great spots to visit nearby? Check out the Capitol Columns, the Piper Aviation Museum, Logan Mills Covered Bridge, and Yost Run Falls.

See map below for other area attractions.

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More nearby places worth exploring

Find more things to do in the Susquehanna Region

2 thoughts on “How to Get to Rosecrans Falls and McElhattan Falls in Clinton County, PA”

  1. I was just there today at To Rosecran falls.
    Beautiful snowy background and flowing quite nicely!
    Thanks for the perfect directions and pics!
    Awesome writeup as well.

    Reply

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