If you’re planning to visit this corner of Huntingdon County, here are a few of my top things to do in the park, as well as a recommended two-mile hike along Trough Creek that will allow you to see many of the its top sites.
Rainbow Falls is the only waterfall in and around Raystown Lake. Located on the Balanced Rock Trail, roughly a quarter-mile from the road, Rainbow Falls is one of the highlights of any visit to Trough Creek State Park.
Unfortunately, this 15-20 foot waterfall on Abbott Run is often just a trickle. To see the waterfall in its full majesty, which I have sadly not yet had the opportunity to experience, visit after a heavy rainstorm or during the spring thaw.
However, even if Rainbow Falls is just a trickle, it’s still one of the park’s most scenic spots.
The shortest route to Rainbow Falls will take you over Great Trough Creek on the Suspension Bridge. This beautiful bridge provides a scenic way to get across the creek and is also a lot of fun to traverse. That’s because it moves as you walk, allowing visitors to enjoy swaying on the bridge or even jumping up and down.
This bridge is definitely one of the most unique aspects of Trough Creek State Park.
Probably the most well-known and impressive feature of Trough Creek State Park is Balanced Rock. This rock, which hangs off the ledge and looks like it could fall at any minute, has been sitting in its position for all of the area’s recorded history.
Without a doubt, this is an impressive natural phenomenon, and there is also a great view of the forested park from the rock.
For those that don’t want to climb the short, but somewhat steep distance to Balanced Rock can see it from the road through the valley near the start of the Balanced Rock Trail.
Copperas Rock is a large overhang along the Great Trough Creek. What makes it unique and gives it its name is its unique yellow color. These rocks look almost as if they are filled with copper or even gold. However, the color is actually caused by the weathering of the iron in the rocks.
These rocks are located directly adjacent to the road with a nice picnic area nearby making it the perfect area to stop for a rest while visiting the park.
Overlook on the Ledges Trail
While Trough Creek State Park is known for its natural beauty, overlooks aren’t one of the things that many come searching for. However, along the Ledges Trail, there is one fantastic overlook that’s worth checking out.
While it’s not on the park map, the overlook is located just a short distance from Rainbow Falls. As the trail reaches the hillside, a small overlook with inlaid stones offers a fantastic view of the valley and hillsides around the Great Trough Creek.
The hike up is short and steep, but the view makes the effort worthwhile.
While it’s not as well-known or large as the Coudersport Ice Mine in northern Pennsylvania, the ice mine in Trough Creek State Park is still worth seeing.
Cut while prospectors were looking for new mines, the ice mine is not a mine at all. Instead, it’s a hole in the ground where cold air escapes the mountain. This creates a natural phenomenon where ice forms during the summer months and melts as winter approaches.
The ice mine can be seen by going down a short set of stairs that have been built under a wooden roof.
Located in a separate area of the park from most of the other attractions, Paradise Furnace is a fantastic remnant of the industry that once dominated the landscape in this corner of Pennsylvania.
Paradise Furnace dates back to the 1830s and was used to produce iron. Today, it is crumbling, but still standing. While it might not be as impressive as some of the other iron furnaces around the state, it’s still a neat reminder of the park’s industrial past.
Recommended Hike in Trough Creek State Park
While Trough Creek State Park is beautiful, the park only features 12 miles of trails. During my most recent visit, I completed a scenic two-mile hike that took me past many of the park’s top spots.
Start at the parking area next to Copperas Rock and enjoy the beauty of this area. From here, cross the road and pick up the Copperas Rock Trail. In just a few yards, the Rhododendron Trail heads off to the right. Take this trail as it meanders along Great Trough Creek.
When you get the Suspension Bridge, make sure to walk across the bridge to get the full effect of this unique bridge.
Once you’ve finished enjoying the bridge, continue along the trail you were on (which changes names to the Balanced Rock Trail). After a short walk, you will come to Rainbow Falls. After Rainbow Falls, the trail climbs a steep set of stairs and switchbacks to Balanced Rock.
From Balanced Rock, return the way you came. About halfway down the hill, before you reach Rainbow Falls, the Abbot Run Trail will head off to your right. Take this trail a short distance up this scenic creek.
After a short distance, the Ledges Trail will climb off to your left. Take this trail up the hillside to the great overlook. From the overlook, continue along the ridgeline until you see the Copperas Trail on your left. Take this trail down the hillside until you reach your car.
This great two-mile hike in Trough Creek State Park offers the chance to explore the beauty of this area and see five of the highlights of the park.
Of course, there are 10 more miles of trails in the park that can be explored. Some of these allow mountain biking as well, but if you are looking for biking trails, you’d be better served heading to the Allegrippis Trails on the opposite banks of Raystown Lake.
For more information on Trough Creek State Park, visit the park’s official website.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, I enjoyed my stay at Lake Raystown Resort, which is just around the corner from the park. Another nice option is Lake Raystown Family Camping Resort. There are also plenty of great hotels in and around Huntingdon (Affiliate Link).
See map for other area attractions.
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