Swatara Falls, Pennsylvania

Swatara Falls in August 2013

Swatara Falls seems to be a waterfall that can be difficult to find information about. I found some information about it in a book about Pennsylvania waterfalls, but really didn’t find a whole lot of other content online. So now I’m here to record my experience in finding Swatara Falls!

My relatives live about 1.5 hours from the falls, so I asked my uncle to take me to the area. The drive was pretty uneventful until we got to the falls. Even then, the drive wasn’t difficult, just a little bit more complicated than it needed to be. The directions I had were slightly confusing, so I ended up thinking that I needed to follow the gravel “roads” on the same side as the parking lot. My uncle drove down one of these “roads”, and I wouldn’t suggest driving down anything but the main road.

After getting confused for about 40 minutes, we finally confirmed that the waterfall seemed to be on the other side of the road from the parking lot. The directions we had didn’t say to cross the road! Cross the road! After that, we wandered around a little bit more, and then finally found the trail. (I’ll expand on this more in the directions below.) After finally finding the falls, it was just 20 minutes or so to the falls. The hike is about 0.8 miles one-way, and it wasn’t particularly difficult. The beginning portion is slightly steep, but should be easily traversed for most people.

Swatara Falls is about 25′ tall, and is a very enjoyable waterfall. It was still flowing at the end of August, so you’ll likely be able to see it year-round. In the spring, you’re probably going to see a more powerful waterfall. Swatara Falls is relatively distant from other falls, but I think it might be worth it to search out this waterfall on a nice, sunny day (though for photographs, overcast might be better).

Directions:

  1. We were coming from Harrisburg, heading northeast along I-81. From I-81, take exit 112 toward Hegins/PA-25.
  2. If you were heading north, turn right onto PA-25 (heading east).
  3. Drive for just over 1.5 miles to a “parking area” on your right. You will know you’re in the right place if you see a bunch of trash (unless it’s been cleaned up). There is a gap in the parking area, and either will work, though the first one you see is closer to the trail.
  4. You need to cross the road (PA-25) at some point in time. Cross the road, and then there are two options. Option 1:  Across from the parking area is a trail. If you take this trail, and it splits to the left or right after just a short distance (maybe 0.1 miles), but doesn’t have an option to continue straight, then take the trail to your left. Hike along this for 0.1 miles or so. Option 2: You can also walk west down PA-25 for about 0.1 miles to the next trail, which leads to a straighter option.
  5. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you come upon a five-way trail intersection. If you took Option 1, you will turn right and continue down the trail. With Option 2, just continue straight.
  6. Follow the rather wide trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 22′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Swatara Falls?

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6 thoughts on “Swatara Falls, Pennsylvania

  1. I hiked to the waterfall today (11/16/13) with my two daughters. Thanks to your directions and discriptions of the area we had absolutely no trouble finding it. Thanks. Nice hike and the area was beautiful even in November.

  2. My daughter and I made it to the falls on Sunday, thanks to your directions. Even in ankle deep snow we could follow the path very well. It’s beautiful in the winter, btw. Looking forward to going back in the spring!

  3. Awesome! I hadn’t heard of this one before. I will definitely make a point to get there in the next few weeks. I get over that way often kayaking, so I am usually in the area. Thanks for the great directions!

  4. I went there in mid July of 2015, and these directions worked! Though, it was overgrown with plants and trees, the trails were easy to find.The hike is a little longer and make sure you bring the proper attire and bug spray is a must! The actual waterfall is a lot bigger than in many pictures, so if you’re in the area or just driving by it, it’s totally worth the hike to see it.

    • Glad to hear the directions worked! Surprised the trail was somewhat overgrown. When my uncle and I visited, it was a rather wide trail and it may have been recently groomed at the time…And I think there were a number of intersecting trails, so it could possibly end up being longer. It only took about 20 minutes to hike in one direction. And I agree, I won’t go anywhere in Pennsylvania without bug spray, more because I seem to find ticks on me every time I don’t use it there.

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