Let’s talk about getting wild. No, not hitting the South Side or dancing in the aisle during a Bucs game. We’re talking about soaking up some nature, and hiking – hiking is where it’s at. We know the feeling: When you’ve had it with the hustle and bustle, the open trail starts calling. And to us, none call harder than McConnells Mill State Park.
You didn’t misread that. All the natural beauty and roaring wild is part of the Slippery Rock Gorge area. It’s basically 2,546 acres of leafy, watery, bouldery funland. And the hiking is unmatched.
Created by the draining of glacial lakes a long, long time ago, we’re left with steep cliffs to peer over (watch your step!), gigantic boulders lying about, and a swift-moving Slippery Rock Creek cutting down the middle. So when you’re ready for an epic hike, pull up your socks and double knot the laces on your boots for nine miles of trails across the rugged gorge.
There are high points and low points to the trails. That’s a very literal statement because they’re all awesome. What we mean is that if you take the Alpha Pass Trail, you’ll get a beautiful scenic vista view from the top of the gorge. And if you take the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail (an uneven, difficult 6.2 miles), you’ll wind your way to the very bottom of the gorge.
But you want a rush? Go chasing waterfalls. Split off from the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail for the Hells Hollow Trail…which leads to the divine Hells Hollow Falls. You’ll come away with no less than different five photos with three different filters.
Yes, the hiking is ridiculous. So why not take a 40-minute drive up 79-North to Lawrence County? It’s an easy picnic and a better day trip. But it’s not just stomping through nature with some granola in your pocket that sets McConnells Mill State Park apart.
We’re just gonna do a roll call: Fishing – here. Bouldering and rappelling (for experienced climbers) – here! Hunting – present! Whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing – Class II and Class IV rapids reporting for duty. Historical sightseeing – absolutely. Swimming – NO. Stop. You can’t. The river’s too fast (go to neighboring Moraine State Park for a beach.)
If you’re not sold yet (how?), we’ll tell you that McConnells Mill State Park is open every single day of the year. Your new favorite hike awaits.
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