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Pennsylvania Waterfalls: How to Get to Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls

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Note: As of late June 2017, I have received reports that there are now “No Trespassing” signs at this waterfall. However, I have not personally confirmed this. Please respect private property where posted. If you have any further information on this, please contact me.

Other nearby accessible waterfalls include Yoder Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and Hinkston Run Falls.

Most waterfalls that I visit in Pennsylvania are located a good distance outside of the closest town. However, with Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls, reaching them is quite simple as they are located right in the middle of the small town of Paint, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Despite being in the middle of a town, there is little to tell you that the falls are there. In fact, there is no signage whatsoever about the waterfalls, even though they are located just down a short, but steep hill from the town’s main street and within spiting distance of the main highway through town.

However, the in-town location of the waterfalls isn’t the only thing that makes them special. What makes these waterfalls unique is that, despite being on different streams, there are two waterfalls within 50 yards of each other. That’s right, just downstream of Paint Falls, Little Paint Creek tumbles its way down Little Paint Falls.

Visiting Paint falls in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
A large pipe runs alongside Paint Falls.

Unfortunately, the beauty of Paint Falls (which is also known as Sandy Falls in some sources) is seriously marred by the remnants of area’s industry past. On the other hand, the flow of the creek usually creates a nice cascade, and the 12-foot height and 30-foot width are nothing to scoff at.

A quick look at the falls and the dark red color of the rocks will tell you that the creek has been severely damaged by mine runoff. Even worse, a large pipe runs along the far side of the creek, marring the view of the waterfall. To top it off, there is a decent amount of trash near the waterfall.

Paint Falls in Paint, Pennsylvania.
A closer look at the left side of Paint Falls.

Fortunately, the abandoned trailer which used to sit next to the falls has been removed since my first visit. It also appears that there was a bit less trash in the area during my second visit in November 2016. 

Paint’s second waterfall, Little Paint Falls is more scenic than the first, but easy to miss. Located just past the railroad bridge, Little Paint Falls is just a few feet above where Little Paint Creek flows into Paint Creek. The waterfall is roughly the same height as Paint Falls, but only about 15 feet wide.

Pennsylvania Waterfalls: Paint Falls in Paint, PA
Little Paint Falls is more scenic than Paint Falls.

The awkward angle of the land and the surrounding brush make it a bit difficult to get a good view of the falls without getting your feet wet. While this waterfall isn’t marred by as many red rocks or a large drainage pipe, there is still evidence of main drainage on this creek.

It’s unfortunate that both of these waterfalls have been changed so much by mine runoff over the years. If the borough invested a bit of time and money into cleaning up the area and making it a nice park, it would definitely be one of the region’s best local parks and a draw to downtown Paint.

Visiting Little Paint Falls in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Little Paint Falls with heavier flow in the spring.

For now, these two waterfalls will remain hidden in plain sight. And, while they are far from the most beautiful waterfalls in Pennsylvania, their accessible location makes them worth visiting for travelers to the area.

How to Get to Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls

Paint Falls in Somerset County, Pennsylvania
If you crop out the pipe on the right side, Paint Falls can look quite scenic.

As stated above, both waterfalls are located in a small gorge right in downtown Paint, Pennsylvania. The parking area for the waterfalls is only 2.5 miles off of Route 219, about halfway between Somerset and Ebensburg, and about 15 minutes from downtown Johnstown.

Parking is located behind the Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church (which may now be vacant) located at 717 Main Street, Windber, PA 15963. Find a spot at the back of the lot, near a gated access road that runs steeply downhill towards the railroad bridge.

How to get to Paint Falls near Johnstown, PA
The path down to Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls.

Note: As of late June 2017, I have received reports that there are now “No Trespassing” signs at this waterfall. However, I have no personally confirmed this. Please respect private property where posted. If you have any further information on this, please contact me.

It’s worth noting that I have no idea what the ownership situation of the land and parking area is. There were no signs about parking or trespassing when I visited in April 2014 and again in November 2016, but it’s best to use your own discretion when visiting. And, of course, always respect private property during your travels.

Once you’ve parked your car, walk past the gate and walk down the steep hill to the bottom.

How to get to Little Paint Falls near Windber, Pennsylvania
A side view of Little Paint Falls.

At the bottom of the hill, you are within a few yards of both waterfalls. To see Little Paint Falls, keep heading straight, going underneath the large railroad bridge above you. The waterfall will be on your right just after the bridge.

Paint Falls is located to the left at the bottom of the hill. Walk through the clearing and the waterfall will be right there in front of you.

Want to see more waterfalls in Pennsylvania? Visit our Pennsylvania Waterfalls page to see visit recaps and recommendations for dozens of waterfalls around the state.

Article updated on December 7, 2016 with additional information and photos.

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14 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Waterfalls: How to Get to Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls”

  1. It may not be scenic, I will grant you that, but I wouldn’t call it ugly! I do agree, it should have something to make it easier to find, even a sign like at Buttermilk Falls Homewood, but it seems that our culture would rather leave one of mother natures finest handy works left to fade into the landscape. MANY of the waterfalls I have been to have nothin to say they are there except for an unmarked trail & parking spot. Solomon’s Falls near Wilkes-Barr is a very good example as well!

    • I definitely think the area is worth visiting, but some waterfall has to be the ugliest in Pennsylvania. 🙂 I think if it got cleaned up a bit, it could be decent. Little Paint Falls is much better and is the one I’d go back to visit.

      • Just attempted to visit the Paint Falls access as described in article but that gate is locked with one sign posted – “Security Cameras in Use” and another sign on the ground at the gate “Posted – Private Property, No Trespassing”

  2. A better discussion on waterfalls in this area would have been a discussion on George Hetzel and The Scalp Level Painters. There are beautiful sights and locations in this area. That is not a scenic overlook area. It’s pretty hard for every area to be cleaned up and reclaimed in this day and age. This entry in your journey was not necessary.

    • Victoria, Thanks for mentioning George Hetzel. I’d never heard of him before, but enjoyed looking at his work. It even looks like he has a painting of this waterfall. It’s a shame that it has been marred so much by industry, and it would be nice if the area around the waterfall was cleaned up a bit. However, I included it because it’s a worthwhile stop for anyone who is in the area and enjoys waterfalls. I’m sorry that you don’t agree, but I feel that it’s well-worth noting for anyone that might be interested in checking out these waterfalls.

  3. Check out Jacobs Creek Falls, situated along Jacobs Creek , bisecting Westmoreland & Fayette County between Chaintown (East Huntingdon Township) and the area of Banning/Jacobs Creek where Jacobs Creek enters the Yough River.

  4. This comment is for Rob Ferguson–concerning Jacobs Creek Falls. I think I tried to find it one day–and could not. Can you provide more specific driving /parking /walking directions ??

  5. Today June 25, 2017 i went to find Paint Falls and Little Paint Falls. There are now No Trespassing/Private Property signs on one side of the gate and Surveillance camera in use sign on the other side. And fencing all around. Unfortunately those falls are now off limits.

    • Thanks for the update, Winnie. I’m sorry to hear that. I will put a note up above, but don’t like to remove articles without a second confirmation, or confirmation by myself. If anyone else has seen this, please let me know.

      • I should have taken pictures of the area for you. Sorry. Simple Alternatives Funeral Home is now located in the church.
        Maybe some local folks will be able to find another route to the falls.

      • Thanks again for the update. I trust you, of course, but it’s just my policy to have multiple reports of something like this, unless I see it myself or hear directly from the property owner.

  6. Just a question, they can not own the water. As I always understood if you hiked in threw the lower area of the creek, as long as your in the water they can not do much? the lower 7miles of the creek to stoney creek river offers three swimming holes and many falls larger and small. I have seen remnenats of fires from camping but still can not find out if the undevelopped park always for wilderness parking

    • In Pennsylvania, the owner of the land owns the stream — including the water and the stream bottom. A fisherman wading or paddling down the middle of the stream is trespassing. The only exception to this is on “navigable waterways.”

      “Navigable” doesn’t mean if you can float a barge, pontoon boat, canoe, or inner tube on it. In Pennsylvania, “navigable” is a legal term. Streams and rivers that are navigable must be declared navigable by law. If it’s been declared navigable then the whole length of the stream is navigable even up to the point it is a little spring coming out of the ground. If the navigable stream is a result from 2 streams coming together, then it’s navigable up to the point where they come together.

  7. I was reading an account recently, of the journey of one of my ancestors who went from Greeneville, TN area to Highland County in south-central Ohio, in 1801, through the wilderness. It said they “over-wintered at the Falls of Paint”. I am trying to find out where this might have been…..and the falls on the Paint River in Somerset Co., PA are the only ones that turn up in a search. Seems a strange way to get into Ohio when one leaves from eastern Tennessee. Any thoughts on any other “Falls of Paint” besides these in PA? Thanks…..


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