Roaring Run Watershed, Kiski Township

Our first visit to Roaring Run took place in July of 2010, prior to the formation of our blog.  Last November, we returned to explore the area further.

Not to be confused with the Roaring Run Natural Area near Champion, the Roaring Run Watershed in Kiski Township includes both Roaring Run and Rattling Run. The watershed’s 652-acres are filled with lush waterfalls, huge boulders and tree-covered hills.

A mere 1.5 miles, the Rock Furnace Trail is the perfect hike for a hot summer day. Most of the area’s attractions are showcased along this heavily shaded trail. Despite temperatures in the lower nineties, we found ourselves remarkably cool.

Across from Camel Rock, a large rock precariously perched on the hillside, lie the remains of the Biddle Iron Furnace. The rock furnace was in operation from 1825-1850.

It’s worth noting that the furnace tends to be overgrown with vegetation during the summer months.

A 72-foot cable suspension bridge crosses over Roaring Run.

For those who can’t resist the urge to cool off under the mist of a waterfall, a spur off the Rock Furnace Trail leads to Rattling Run, home to a trio of waterfalls known as Jackson’s Falls.

The lower falls are easily accessible. All it takes is a short scramble through a rocky stream.

Getting to the middle falls is more of a challenge. We couldn’t figure out how to reach the waterfall without getting too close to the edge of the cliff. To complicate things further, the view is often obstructed by leaves during the warmer months.

Our best photos were taken during our second visit in November.

Although the upper falls are only a short distance away, we missed them on our first visit.

Although it isn’t always present, the odor of gas can sometimes be detected. It was especially strong on our return. Perhaps this is due to the blast mining that took place nearly two centuries ago?

During our spontaneous second visit to Roaring Run, we found ourselves hiking the Roaring Run Trail to catch a glimpse of Flat Run Falls.

A rails-to-trails project, the Roaring Run Trail was used for a canal towpath until 1850, when the site became the corridor for a railway known as the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal, which carried coal from the Leechburg Coal mining station.

Spanning only 5 miles, the Roaring Run Trail is short in length but rich in scenery.

Beginning at Canal Road, the trail parallels the Kiskimenatas River to the southeast.

Trains are often spotted across the river.

Remnants such as stone survey markers and bridge abutments can be found. At the 1.5 mile mark, look for stone remnants of Canal Lock 15. During low water, remnants of a dam, destroyed by a flood in 1866, are visible.

Well into the 20th century, the Kiskimenatas River Valley was heavily mined for coal. This mining left ugly scars on the once beautiful landscape. The Kiskimenatas River became polluted with acidic mineral laden groundwater, which discharged from these mines.

The Roaring Run Trail passes by the site of the Trux Mine discharge, considered to be one of the worst abandoned mine water discharges in Pennsylvania.

Although efforts have been made to remediate the damage, contaminated water continues to flow into the Kiskimenatas River.

The trail passes by the ruins of the Leechburg Coal mining station.

Flat Run Falls is a small but scenic woodland waterfall surrounded by a canopy of rhododendron. The waterfall is partly obstructed by a large, flat rock.

Had we planned this trip in advance, we probably would have chosen to take our bikes with us. Little did we know we were in for an 8 mile round-trip hike!

Plans are underway to extend the Roaring Run Trail to connect to the West Penn Trail, resulting in a joint trail system of over 25 miles.

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