Rocks & Waterfalls – Buttermilk Falls
July 10 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Welcome to Rocks & Waterfalls!
This trip will explore Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County, PA and is co-led by Earth Science Excursions, LLC.
Buttermilk Falls is a gem, one of the most beautiful small but tall waterfalls in southwestern Pennsylvania. Unlike most waterfalls, here it can be possible to see and hear the waterfall from behind; an amazing experience that fills the senses.
A short walk from the parking area to the waterfall passes multiple levels of a long-abandoned quarry of the Homewood Sandstone. This is the type locality of the Homewood, which also holds up waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park. Homewood Sandstone blocks from this quarry were used to construct the imposing Western Penitentiary and other buildings near Pittsburgh. Massive sandstone within an ancient channel sets up the waterfall at Buttermilk Falls.
The ancient channel and well-exposed cross bedding in the sandstone were created by a river system 310 million years ago. These features of the rock will allow us to interpret the direction in which the ancient river flowed.
Buttermilk Falls and steep cascades of the stream below form a knickpoint related to the glacial history of the Beaver Valley and the region. Geologic observations at Buttermilk Falls and nearby will help participants build first-hand knowledge of the Pleistocene glacial history of southwestern Pennsylvania.
We will be walking for a total of about one-half mile, up and down a path that climbs a total of perhaps 100 feet. There are steps on the path in places. We must stay at least ten feet away from cliffs beside the path. There may be mud, and in cold weather there may be snow and ice. We will be away from the vehicles for an hour. The vehicles will be driving and parking on pavement and gravel.
Maneuvering around large rocks to enter the areas behind and on the other side of the waterfall requires good balance, agility and flexibility especially if the weather has been cold and the rocks are coated with ice. Going behind the waterfall is optional, not required.
Allergy alert for spring and summer: We will be in natural habitats of snakes and insects.
Buttermilk Falls Natural Area has no restroom facilities.
- Comfortable boots for walking on uneven ground and depending on conditions on ice, in mud or snow. We will want to look at rocks next to the stream, and It will help if your boots are able to withstand a few inches of water. This is a popular park with a narrow trail.
- Face coverings ARE required.
- Sturdy walking stick.
- Check the weather forecast; please wear weather-appropriate clothing that can get dirty and that will allow you to be comfortable in the outdoors for an hour or so.
- In season there is poison ivy along trails we will be walking so wear high socks and long pants.
Smart phone, camera. Identification guides; notebook or sketch pad and pencil.