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How to Get to Cole Run Falls and the Barronvale Covered Bridge in Forbes State Forest

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.

Visiting Cole Run Falls in the Laurel Highlands.
Another look at Cole Run Falls.

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.

Cole Run Falls in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
During times of low water, unique features, such as this swirl, can be seen at Cole Run Falls.

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.

Blue Hole in Forbes State Forest, Somerset County, PA
The Blue Hole in Forbes State Forest.

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).

Cave Falls in Forbes State Forest
Cave Falls is a small waterfall a few hundred yards downstream from Cole Run Falls.

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.

The beautiful Barronvale Covered Bridge near Cole Run Falls in Somerset County, Laurel Highlands.
The beautiful Barronvale Covered Bridge near Cole Run Falls.

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

Where is Cole Run Falls in Forbes State Forest?
Cole Run Falls during the summer.

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.

Another Look at Somerset County's Barronvale Covered Bridge.
Another Look at Somerset County’s Barronvale Covered Bridge.

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.]

See map for other area attractions.

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6 thoughts on “How to Get to Cole Run Falls and the Barronvale Covered Bridge in Forbes State Forest”

  1. Growing up, my family had a summer place at Kings Mountain. My teenage years were spent riding my motorcycle to Blue Hole and Cole run falls. This article just brought so many great many memories flooding back.

    A little known fact is about 1/2 mile down the stream, they found the remains of a confederate camp they believe was from soldiers who deserted Gettysburg.

  2. Blue Hole is a favorite of mine.swim there often. 2 covered bridge close by.just a beautiful pristine area. Somerset County has 10 covered bridges,waterfalls,overlooks,beautiful farmland,ski resorts,hunting,hiking,fishing-anything you want to do.and great eateries!

  3. Hi there, thanks so much for this site. I can tell it’s been a labor of love. I lived in PA for a while and I miss it every day. I love what you have compiled here for the world to see all the great places that Pennsylvania has to see. I’ve been adding places to tripadvisor lists so I can go back to them. And if one of your locations isn’t listed then I request tripadvisor to add it. I just wanted to thank you, and to let you know that I got tripadvisor to list this waterfall and link back to you. If you look up Cole Run Falls in PA on tripadvisor you’ll see. Thanks again for all your wonderful travel listings and hopefully I will see more of these places one day.


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