McConnell’s Mill State Park

Location: New Castle, Pennsylvania

Webpage: Pennsylvania State Park

General Description: The original grist mill on Slippery Rock Creek was built by Daniel Kennedy in 1852.  In 1868 this mill burned down, but was completely replaced.  It was sold to Thomas McConnell in 1875 who replaced the water wheel with a water turbine and the millstones with rolling mills.  Today this grist mill is still in operation and along with the covered bridge that crosses the creek at the mill, forms the centerpiece for the park.  There are several hiking paths in the park, including a short hike to a waterfall and limestone kiln, a moderate 2 mile loop trail along the creek, and the gorge trail that traverses the 2,546 acre park.  Whitewater kayaking is a common use of the creek during high water in the spring and two climbing/rappelling areas.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) McConnell’s grist mill is in excellent condition and is used to demonstrate an 1800 rolling mill.  Unfortunately, the mill is operated only over the weekends during the summer, so was closed during the week when we visited.  Of course, this meant we were able to force our large truck into their very small parking lot at the mill, which made the hiking trails conveniently located without having to hike 0.5 mile down from the larger parking lot at the picnic area.

Mill2

2) The covered bridge at the mill is also an historic structure that have lasted for over 100 years spanning the creek.  It is still in excellent condition and can support single lane car traffic.

CoveredBridge2

3) The Kildoo Trail is a 2 mile loop trail that travels downstream where it crosses the creek and back upstream on the other side.  This is a moderate trail with a number of opportunities to view the many rapids and cascades on the creek.  Being late summer during a minor drought meant the water level was fairly low, too low for kayaking, but still some nice views.  The trail is moderate in difficulty with constant up and down along the creek bank climbing over rocks and roots on the trail.

SipperyRockCreek

4) The Hells Hollow Trail is an easy 0.5 mile trail leading hikers to a restored limestone kiln and on to Hells Hollow Falls along Hells Hollow Run.  We did not visit this trail.

5) The Slippery Rock Gorge Trail is a difficult to moderate trail that is part of the North Country Trail System.  This trail follows Slippery Rock Creek from where it enters the park and through the gorge to its exit in an alluvial plain.  We did not visit this trail.