McConnells Mill State Park

Quick Facts

McConnells Mill State Park

Pennsylvania

(724) 368-8091

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

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 steeps sides and the valley floor is littered with huge boulders. 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. In 1852, Daniel Kennedy built the first gristmill on Slippery Rock Creek. Fire destroyed the mill so he rebuilt it in 1868. Thomas McConnell bought the mill in 1875, and improved it by replacing the waterwheel with water turbines and the grinding stones with rolling mills. One of the first rolling mills in the country, it processed corn, oats, wheat and buckwheat for local customers. Sagging profits and antiquated equipment closed the mill in 1928.

In 1946, the mill and surrounding property was conveyed from Thomas H. Hartman to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and later to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the wish that it be preserved for future generations. McConnells Mill State Park was formally dedicated in October of 1957. McConnells Mill Covered Bridge is one of two covered bridges in Lawrence County. It was built in 1874 and is of Howe Truss design, located on state park land. McConnells Mill State Park also draws visitors to the exciting hiking trails, such as Slippery Rock Gorge Trail, and whitewater rafting. The perfect natural playground, this state park offers an array of outdoor recreational activities.

Map of McConnells Mill (PA)

Latitude, Longitude: 40.934525, -80.182686

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Activities

  • Boating

    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.

  • Climbing

    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.

  • 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.

  • Hiking

    McConnells Mill State Park has 9 miles of rugged trails that traverse the gorge.

  • Historic Sites

    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. McConnells Mill Heritage Festival is an annual event 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.

  • Hunting

    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.

  • 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. There are no pavilions in the park but the picnic area has many shaded tables. Charcoal grills and restrooms are available. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Directions

Driving

The park is about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, via I-79, near the intersection of PA 19 and US 422.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(724) 368-8091

Links