McConnells Mill State Park

McConnells Mill State Park, in Lawrence County, encompasses 2,546 acres of the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Created by the draining of glacial lakes thousands of years ago, the gorge has steep sides and the valley floor is littered with huge boulders and is a national natural landmark. A gristmill built in the 1800s is open for tours. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round.

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Hiking   -  Picnicking   -  Climbing and Rappelling   -  Whitewater Boating   -  Fishing   -  Hunting   -  Education  

Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. Contact the Moraine State Park office for facility seasons and hours.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Picnicking: The Kildoo Picnic Area is adjacent to the parking area at the northern end of the gorge near the Old Mill. A steep trail leads down to the Old Mill. Charcoal grills and restrooms are available. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Located in the Kildoo Picnic Area, the ADA accessible Kildoo Pavilion can accommodate up to 40 people. It can be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. If unreserved, the pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A playfield is across the road from the Kildoo Picnic Area. This field may be used for softball and other activities during the summer and for sledding during the winter months.

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No Swimming! Slippery Rock Creek is a very swift and dangerous whitewater creek. Many people have drowned in this dangerous creek. Nearby Moraine State Park has two swimming beaches.

Danger - White Water - Slippery Rocks Visitors entering McConnells Mill State Park should be aware of the natural hazards and steep terrain of the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. This area contains smooth rocks that are often damp and slippery, and varying degrees of whitewater conditions, including deep pools, rapids and swift currents. Adults should be aware of these features and exercise caution to protect themselves and children from accidents. Numerous accidents here have resulted in injury and death.


A fly fisherman wades in the creek at at McConnells Mill State Park, Pennsylvania.Fishing: Fishing is permitted anywhere along Slippery Rock Creek with the exception of the dam structures. The best fishing is for trout and bass. Trout are stocked several times throughout the season. There is a fly fishing only, catch and release area by Armstrong Bridge.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hunting and Firearms: Many acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are grouse, deer, turkey, rabbit and squirrel.

Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.

Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s vehicle or enclosed trailer. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.

Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.

Pets: Pets are permitted in the park and must be controlled and attended at all times and on a leash. Please pick up pet wastes and dispose of them properly.

Climbing and Rappelling: Two climbing and rappelling areas are available to properly equipped and experienced climbers. The Rim Road Climbing Area is across the creek from the Old Mill. The more advanced and rugged area is in the vicinity of Breakneck Bridge.

Numerous accidents have occurred in this area resulting in serious injuries. Please exercise extreme caution when climbing or hiking in these areas. Rappelling is prohibited from the bridges, rock areas along park roads, or any other areas outside of the two designated climbing areas.

A hiker is shaded by trees on a hiking trail at McConnells Mill State Park, Pennsylvania.Hiking: 9 miles of trails
Rugged trails traverse the gorge. Please wear appropriate clothing, including boots. For your safety and to protect the resource, please stay on the trails.

Alpha Pass: 1.5-mile, blue blazes, moderate hiking
This trail is at the northern end of McConnells Mill State Park and is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. This trail begins at the Alpha Pass scenic vista and follows the east bank of Slippery Rock Creek. There is an exit to the Point Parking Area or the trail follows the creek to the Old Mill.

Hells Hollow: 0.5-mile, easy hiking
This trail begins at the Hells Hollow parking lot and follows and twice crosses Hell Run on its way to a limekiln and Hells Hollow Falls. Although the main trail is smooth and level, the section by the waterfall can be slippery.

Kildoo: 2-mile loop, moderate hiking
Kildoo trail is south of the Old Mill and begins at either end of the covered bridge. This trail is a delightful walk along Slippery Rock Creek. The first 400 yards of the trail on the east bank of the creek is paved for the self-guiding interpretive/nature trail. The trail continues on rocky terrain to Eckert Bridge where hikers cross Slippery Rock Creek and hike up the west side of the creek to the covered bridge. The western section of the trail has blue blazes and is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Slippery Rock Gorge: 6.2 miles, blue blazes, moderate to difficult hiking
Part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, Slippery Rock Gorge Trail begins jointly with Hells Hollow Trail at the Hells Hollow parking lot. The Gorge Trail splits off just before the second footbridge. The first two miles of the trail follows the upper Hell Run Valley. The rest of the trail follows the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge north for just over four miles to Eckert Bridge. At about the 3.5-mile point, the trail descends into the deepest part of the gorge. This broad alluvial flood plain is known as Walnut Flats. The trail then becomes more difficult, traversing very steep terrain. At the 5-mile point, the trail crosses uplands then drops back down to creek level and follows along the creek bank to Eckert Bridge.

Hikers should allow a minimum of six hours to hike to Eckert Bridge and back. This is not a loop trail. If you only plan a one-way trip, please set up a shuttle.

For a Safe Hike

  • Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
  • Stay on the trail. If you hike off of the trail, you might get lost or damage the fragile habitat.
  • Carry drinking water. DO NOT drink from streams, springs or lakes without properly treating the water first!
  • Carry the proper safety equipment, like a first aid kit, whistle and a poncho.
  • Check the weather before you hike. It is not safe to hike in thunderstorms or when heavy snow is expected.
  • If you leave your purse, wallet or valuables in your vehicle, be sure to lock them in the trunk or other hidden location in your vehicle.

Whitewater Boating

Water rushes past weathered rocks in Slippery Rock Creek at McConnells Mill State Park, Pennsylvania.Slippery Rock Creek is a Class II to IV river, depending on water level. Spring and fall are the best times for boating. Boaters generally start from Rose Point (US 422 bridge), outside of the park boundary, and boat to Eckert Bridge, covering 2.5 miles with a portage around the dam at the Old Mill. It is illegal to “run” the dam. Boaters must stay at least 50 feet from the boil at the base of the dam. An additional 3.5 miles of whitewater from Eckert Bridge to Harris Bridge can extend the run for boaters to 6 miles. Rafts, canoes and kayaks are not available for rent in the park.

Non-powered boats launched in a state park must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

All whitewater boaters on Slippery Rock Creek must learn to recognize natural dangers and understand that injury and death are a possibility when boating Slippery Rock Creek.

Only those properly equipped, trained and experienced should consider whitewater boating. Whitewater boating is permitted in rubber rafts, whitewater canoes and kayaks. Rafts must be at least eight feet long and have at least two air chambers in the gunnels with a minimum outside diameter tube of 14 inches. Non-inflatable canoes and kayaks must be of a design intended for whitewater use. Boating must be in accordance with the American Whitewater Affiliation Safety Code. All boaters enter the water at their own risk. Inner tubes and air mattresses are prohibited.

All boaters must wear U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices at all times. Helmets are strongly recommended.

For complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the

Visit the Safety Code of American Whitewater for useful safety information.

International Scale of River Difficulty

The classes below are the American version of the rating system used throughout the world. This system is not exact. Rivers do not always fit easily into one category and there may be regional interpretations. This information is from American Whitewater.

Class I: Easy - Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice - Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers.

Class III: Intermediate - Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges is often required. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can occur.

Class IV: Advanced - Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. May be large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. Rapids require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Self-rescue is difficult.

Historical and Environmental Education and Interpretation

A park naturalist is available several days a week on a seasonal basis to conduct guided hikes, night programs and school group activities. Please contact Moraine State Park for more information or to schedule a program.

Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.

Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.

The Old Mill

The 19th century gristmill is the centerpiece of McConnells Mill State Park. The historic gristmill at McConnells Mill State Park is open Memorial Day through late September on Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Park at the Kildoo Picnic Area and hike down the stone stairs to the mill. Limited parking, for people with disabilities, may be available beside the mill.

Interpretive tours of the historic mill, given by staff or volunteer docents, are available at 1:00 and 2:00 PM. Interpretive tours for groups may be scheduled by calling the Moraine Park office 724 368-8811.

Trail of Geology

The natural character of McConnells Mill State Park, the scenic gorge, waterfalls, rugged hiking trails and whitewater creek, are all directly caused by the geology of the area. The bedrock formed over 300 million years ago as layers of sand, mud and peat in what was a coastal area. After becoming rock, these different layers were lifted to the surface in several mountain-building events. The different strengths of these rocks cause them to erode differently, helping to make the varied landscape of the park. The gorge and the dramatic topography of the park were created by glaciers over the past two million years.

To learn more about the geology of the park, pick up a copy of the Trail of Geology brochure at the park office, or visit the interactive web site. This driving tour brochure corresponds to numbered posts throughout the park and surrounding area.

Heritage Festival

McConnells Mill Heritage Festival is held on the last full weekend in September. The festival celebrates the operational era of the Old Mill (1852-1928). Visitors can witness artisans and crafts people making art and try old-time games and crafts. Other activities include mill tours, corn grinding demonstrations, musical entertainment, a Civil War encampment and food vendors.

Access for People with Disabilities

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.