Pittsburgh was under the effect of a January thaw. Nearly all of the snowfall had melted and temperatures were soaring into the 60s! Eager to escape our winter dormancy, we set off to explore new terrain in Forbes State Forest. While temperatures were comfortable in the Laurel Highlands, the forest remained submerged under a blanket of snow.
Travel through Forbes State Forest can be impeded throughout the winter months due to lack of maintenance. Our original plans were to hike 3 to 4 miles through the forest to explore the area known as Blue Hole. Sadly, we made the unfortunate discovery that all roads leading to Blue Hole were layered with ice. Not to be deterred, we managed to park near the top of Cole Run Road without completely obstructing the path.
The recent snow melt triggered the flow of this small seasonal waterfall.
A short, albeit precarious 1/2 mile ramble down the ice led to Cole Run Falls, a charming woodland waterfall surrounded by a cluster of rhododendron.
Tom’s Stoop overlooks the brink of the falls.
A thick layer of ice made for hazardous footing. The Cole Run Falls Trail was especially perilous due to its steep slope.
Depending on which way you enter this portion of Forbes State Forest, you may pass by one of two unusual sights: a donkey farm or the Forest Headquarters, where a large collection of totem poles reign supreme.
The nearby Barronvale Covered Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and provides a charming historical side trip.
Although the bridge’s name plate shows the date of construction as 1830, the Statewide Covered Bridge Assessments lists it as 1846. To compound matters further, the World Guide to Covered Bridges states that is was erected in 1902.
Nevertheless, if you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out!