As August is in full swing and the temperatures steadily reach into the 80s, the kids can get a bit cranky when the humidity rises as well.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining a bit about the heat. In fact, I am enjoying the flip flop weather immensely and will be sad when we return to the weather which contains the “s” word that shall not be named. But, if you are looking to beat the heat, pack the family and a picnic for an air conditioned car ride to a fantastic swimming hole located at the end of a quick but beautiful stroll in the shade to a cascading waterfall.
Before the big box stores started selling the quick setup large pools, the local swimming hole was a great summer gathering place. Bring a bit of nostalgia and a few stories of your own childhood years with you to tell the kids.
Buttermilk Falls is located in Beaver County (Route 18 and 1st Avenue, Homewood Borough, Beaver Falls, PA 15010). The name Buttermilk Falls was reportedly given by a group of Civil War soldiers and their wives in 1870 as they made a toast with glasses filled with buttermilk.
While buttermilk would not have been my first choice for a beverage, it does make for a neat story. The falls are often called Homewood Falls due to their location as well as there being several other “Buttermilk Falls” in the state.
The 20-foot sandstone rock formation sends water and sometimes people over the edge into the pool below. Let me be very clear; I am not condoning nor encouraging jumping from the top, but I did witness this happening. I just wanted to give a warning to swimmers to keep an eye on the top just to be sure no one happens to be jumping in the area you are swimming.
From a small parking lot located just off the main road on the left there is a short but scenic walk up to the base of the falls. This is the much easier way to access the bottom portion as well as the swimming hole.
You will walk through the former quarry that supplied the stone for the Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh as well as the roads and tunnels that are in the area. If the lower parking lot happens to be full or you want to see an overlook view of the falls, continue up the road just a bit until you come to a church on your left. There is another parking lot that is graciously provided by the church and nearby is a great vantage point for pictures.
There are very steep pathways leading down to the bottom from this area, but I was not looking to twist an ankle in my flip flops. I suggest just walking down the road to the lower access to reach the bottom of the falls area.
Both the top and the bottom of the falls are worth the effort, even if you are not swimming. The top gives a great view and photo opportunity, but the bottom area allows you to actually walk behind the falls. Several rocks have carvings on them, and many of the dates go back to the early 1900s.
It is amazing that such a seemingly untouched area of nature has not been overly developed. You can even take a blanket and spread out on one of the many large rocks near the base for a quick snack with the roaring of the waterfall for a romantic backdrop if you happen to go with your sweetie.
You will likely be sharing your romance with the excited squeals of children splashing and playing, since it is a popular local watering hole, but I was told that it is a popular place to “pop the question” if that is your motive for the trip.
While you are in the area you can also check out Brady’s Run Park (121 Bradys Run Road, Beaver Falls, PA), which offers picnic facilities, biking and hiking trails and a playground for the kids.
You can also visit the Air Heritage Museum (1043, 35 Piper St.) also in Beaver Falls. The museum is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It houses a great display of aviation and World War II memorabilia.
Whatever you chose to do on your journey, remember that not all who wander are lost.