Of all the waterfalls I’ve visited in Pennsylvania, Cole Run Falls is one of the most photogenic. And, when you combine that with the peacefulness of the location and the nearby Barronvale Covered Bridge, it makes a visit even more wonderful.
Cole Run Falls is located in one of the 20 parcels of land that make up Forbes State Forest. Stretching over all three counties of the Laurel Highlands, Forbes State Forest contains some of the most beautiful and undisturbed patches of land in the region, including the tallest mountain in Pennsylvania.
It’s a decent drive to visit Cole Run Falls, but since the falls are just a few steps from the parking area, it’s really easy to visit
At only around 15 feet tall, there are definitely higher waterfalls in PA. However, what makes Cole Run Falls so beautiful isn’t its height. Instead, it’s the nearly 90° turn that it makes right after the main falls and the dense underbrush that surrounds it. This ensures that even when the water levels drop in the late summer and fall that the waterfall will still be beautiful and worth visiting.
Once you’re done gazing at the waterfall, you have two choices for other activities in the area.
If you are looking for a nice hike, Cole Run Trail is a great choice. The hike is three miles long, which includes a mile along Cole Run Road to get back to your car. The trail follows along Blue Hole Creek and passes the Blue Hole, which is a deep area of the creek where the water appears blue. Of course, you can also drive to the Blue Hole if you prefer.
Also along the trail is another small waterfall known as Cave Falls because of the narrow cave opening next to the waterfall.
Finding Cave Falls is a bit tricky, and requires a steep decent off trail to an area below the falls, crossing the Cole Run, and then heading back upstream along the far bank. However, if you manage to make it to this waterfall, you’re in for a very secluded treat. While there, make sure to note the cave opening, as well as the red clay that turns parts of the stream into a strange orange color (Check out the bottom left corner of the photo below).
Giving directions here is hard, but it is located just a few hundred yards down Cole Run from Cole Run Falls. If you’re feeling adventurous, head downstream to find this small waterfall.
Another option is to visit the beautiful Barronvale Covered Bridge. Spanning Laurel Hill Creek just outside the bounds of Forbes State Forest, the bridge is one of the more remote and picturesque that you’ll find in Pennsylvania.
At over 160 feet long, it’s also one of the longest bridges in the state and the longest covered bridge in Somerset County. For more information about this bridge and several others that are nearby, check out my piece about the southern Somerset County covered bridges.
There is a bit of conflicting information on when the bridge was built. While you’ll notice a sign above the bridge that lists a date of 1830, I’ve also seen information that states 1902. However, regardless of when it was built, it’s one of the most nicely restored covered bridges in Pennsylvania.
Visiting Cole Run Falls and Barronvale Covered Bridge
Cole Run Falls is located down several miles of dirt roads and is located in one of the more remote areas of the Laurel Highlands. However, with directions, visiting Cole Run Falls is not difficult. The parking area for Cole Run Falls is located at the following coordintes: 39.973026, -79.284091.
After parking in the lot for Cole Run Trail, you’ll only have to walk about 100 feet to reach the falls. Instead of heading to the right at the first sign for the trail, continue straight passed the sign and you’ll reach the falls in about 50 more feet. There is no trail to the bottom of Cole Run Falls, but it’s not difficult to reach the bottom.
To visit Barronvale Covered Bridge from Cole Run Falls, get back in your car. If you are facing the road, with your back to Cole Run Falls, head to the right (southeast) on Cole Run Road. When your road dead ends, turn right on Gary Road. Drive for a few miles until that road ends, and turn left on Fall Run Road.
After a few miles, that road will end, and you should be able to see the covered bridge to your left along Covered Bridge Road. If you have a GPS unit, you can find Barronvale Covered Bridge at the following coordinates: 39.953000, -79.270167.
There are also several other covered bridges nearby. Check out my article about the covered bridges of Somerset County for more information on them.
You can also check out my map below or the map for this section of Forbes State Forest, both of which have markings for both Cole Run Falls and Barronvale Covered Bridge.
Want to see more of Pennsylvania’s best waterfalls? Check out our Pennsylvania Waterfalls page! You can also explore more of the area’s beauty at Kooser State Park, Adams Falls, Jones Mill Run Dam, and the Overlook Tower at Laurel Hill State Park.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]