Best Places to Run in Western PA: McConnells Mill

We recently uploaded a new video to our Wolf Creek Race Management Youtube channel highlighting McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County from a running perspective. This is the second video in a series of reviews of the best running destinations in Western Pennsylvania. We will be releasing a new video on a new park or trail each week.

McConnells Mill State Park is most famous for its 19th Century historic gristmill and red covered bridge over Slippery Rock Creek. The park is also known for the large boulders, exposed rock, and waterfalls created by drainage from glacial lakes thousands of years ago. Today the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge is a National Natural Landmark. This makes the park one of the most scenic destinations in Pennslyvania.

On any visit to the park, one can’t help but notice the rugged terrain and steep hills and cliffs. These features make the park a top destination in Western Pennsylvania for hikers and rock climbers. I believe that just about anywhere you can hike you can run. The Kildoo Trail along Slippery Rock Creek is rocky and technical but completely runnable, however, if I want to run a good singletrack trail, I would go to Moraine State Park and run on the Glacier Ridge Trail.

The best place to run at McConnells Mill State Park is not on trails but on the roads. Probably at least 75% of the times I run at McConnells Mill, I will run the same 10 mile loop shown on my Strava activity below. This route is one of the best in Western Pennsylvania as it is both very scenic and challenging. This loop begins and ends at the Kildoo parking lot and actually goes through the covered bridge about a mile into the run. Cleland Rock is another scenic location and is roughly 6 miles into the route. There you can view the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge below. The gravel road to the lookout is where the final shot in the video was filmed. The route overall is challenging in terms of elevation. There is over 1,300 feet of climbing over the course of 10 miles which I would consider very hilly. Any time you have a route that climbs over 100 feet per mile it is a challenge. There is one section in the middle of this loop that climbs for an entire mile before leveling off.

While McConnells Mill may not have many easy running options like some larger State Parks, this 10 mile route alone is worth the trip for any runners wanting to explore of of the most scenic destinations in Western Pennsylvania.