Spread across 2,546 acres in Portersville, McConnells Mill State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s most historic state parks.
Incorporating the stunning Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, which has been designated a National Natural Landmark, its landscape includes a valley floor, with steep walls that accommodate plenty of massive boulders.
While several scenic overlooks and cascading waterfalls provide huge natural drawcards in which to explore, this PA state park is also renowned for its historic gristmill which dates back to the 1800s.
There is no camping here, but plenty in the surrounding area, so if you are into hiking, fishing, hunting and picnicking, there is no reason not to visit the place.
Visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time at the park. Here are a few things you can do while there.
Swimming at McConnells Mill State Park
Swimming is not allowed at the park as the current of the creek is very fast and dangerous.
If you want to swim, you should head on over to Moraine State Park, which is not far from McConnells, and has two swimming beaches.
Fishing at McConnells Mill State Park
The park is a lovely place to go fishing.
Apart from at the damn structures, you can cast a line anywhere in and around the Slippery Rock Creek.
Trout and bass reside here in abundance, so you should have no problem catching either.
If you would prefer, you can partake in fly fishing at the catch and release area, which is located down by Armstrong Bridge.
Hiking at McConnells Mill State Park
Hiking is a popular activity at the park and there are over 11 miles of trails waiting to be explored.
A number of rugged trails run through the park, as well as traversing the gorge.
Here is a small selection of some of the trails you will find at McConnells Mill State Park:
- trail 1 – Hells Hollow Trail. Length: 0.5 mile Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 2 – Alpha Pass Trail. Length: 1.5 miles Degree of Difficulty: moderate
- trail 3 – Slippery Rock Gorge Trail. Length: 6.2 miles Degree of Difficulty: challenging
Picnicking at McConnells Mill State Park
As the park is so picturesque, lots of families choose to picnic here.
By and large, this happens at the Kildoo Picnic Area which is situated towards the gorge’s northern end close to the historic gristmill.
From the gristmill, a steel trail descends down to the picnic area. Once there you will find plenty of tables, grills, charcoal and restrooms.
Please note, alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be consumed here, or at any state park in Pennsylvania.
Whitewater Boating at McConnells Mill State Park
Whitewater boating is a favored activity at the park. It takes place at the Slippery Rock Creek which has been designated as a Class II to IV river – depending on how high the water level is.
Spring and fall are generally accepted as being the best time for this activity. You will have to bring your own whitewater craft as there are none available to hire in the park.
Be aware, if you do engage in this pastime, you will be doing so at your own risk.
Climbing and Rappelling at McConnells Mill State Park
If you are into climbing and rappelling, there are a couple of areas at the park that are available for experienced and properly equipped climbers to tackle.
From the Old Mill, The Rim Road Climbing Area is situated across the creek. This is the area where most people choose to climb.
The far more rugged and advanced Breakneck Bridge should only be attempted by those who have several years of climbing experience.
Please note, rappelling is not permitted from any of the bridges, or the rocky areas that run along the park roads.
The Historic Gristmill at McConnells Mill State Park
One of the park’s main drawcards is the historic 19th century gristmill that lies within it.
Open from Memorial Day all the way through to late September, you can choose to go on one of the many interpretive tours of it that are run by staff or volunteers.
Birding at McConnells Mill State Park
As the creek corridor serves as a resting and rearing area for migratory waterfowl, birding is a popular activity at the park.
If this is something you would like to partake in, some of the raptor species you should see include bald eagle, osprey and numerous types of hawk. All of which regularly use the creek as a food source.
Nature & Wildlife
The park boasts a diverse landscape that ranges from open grassland and dense woodland to thick forest and the impressive Slippery Rock Creek Gorge.
Across this varying terrain, the park supports many different wildlife species. This includes small mammals like raccoon, squirrel, mink and chipmunk, as well as larger types like black bear, deer and turkey.
You are also likely to come across several breeds of reptiles and amphibians. Some of which include frogs, terrestrial salamanders, lizards, mudpuppies and snakes – who all tend to dwell near the park’s creek and streams.
Hunting at McConnells Mill State Park
When the hunting season is on, the park opens up a wide section of itself specifically for this practice.
Within this section you will be able to hunt and trap, as well as train your dogs.
Common game species which you can catch include deer, grouse, rabbit, squirrel and turkey.
Please note, the hunting of groundhogs is forbidden. While dog training is only allowed between the period of Labor Day to March 31st.
While hunting, be aware that the rules and regulations of both the DCNR and Pennsylvania Game Commission apply.
Pets at McConnells Mill State Park
Pets are allowed in the park, although they must be kept under control, cleaned up after, and leashed at all times.
Some restrictions might apply, so if you intend on bringing your dog to the park it is worth contacting the park’s main office to ascertain what they are.
Camping at McConnells Mill State Park
Unfortunately there are no campgrounds within the park itself.
However, situated close to it is the Breakneck Campground, which is where many people who visit McConnells choose to stay.
This campground offers a range of accommodation options including primitive sites for RVs and tents, as well as popup and camper sites.
It also has a collection of hillside huts, scenic decks and rustic cabins available to hire too.
Amenities at this scenic campground include modern bathrooms and hot showers. There is also 24 hour staffing to assist you in case you need anything. While a sand volleyball court, and firewood for purchase, as also available.
McConnells Mill State Park
1761 McConnells Mill Rd,
Portersville, PA 16051
Here is a short YouTube video with some aerial footage of McConnells Mill State Park: