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12.21.2016

Buttermilk Falls North, Cowanshannock Trail, Armstrong County

Just north of Kittanning, the Cowanshannock Creek reaches the Allegheny River. This creek is a great place for all sorts of recreation. The creek is a major tributary to the Allegheny River and it flows from Indiana County and into Armstrong County. At its mouth is a great little boat launch, probably one of the best I have seen along this area of the river. Launching a boat into a flowing river can sometimes be a tricky proposition. The mouth of the Cowanshannock serves as a nice little harbor of sorts for boat launching. What drew me to the creek was the fabled Buttermilk Falls. While I would not necessarily qualify the "falls" as a waterfall, I highly recommend visiting this place to see what is rated as Class IV rapids. I would not recommend rafting or kayaking this section without some experience, and without having scouted the area first, because there are a ton of obstructions and things caught up in the creek bed, in addition to giant boulders. This is a place you want to scout before doing anything on the water. A nice trail runs along the creek from an old rail line and for me, that is what made this worth a visit.
Coordinates to Parking Area: 40.849568, -79.507758

Bernard C. Snyder Picnic Area, Cowanshannock Trail, Canfield Holmes Sanctuary
The mouth of the Cowanshannock, a great boat launch into the Allegheny River, a great picnic spot, and a fun hiking destination

Some relics just up from the mouth of the the Cowanshannock. Any ideas one what these were a part of? 
Whatever these relics are, they have sat in abandonment for several decades, considering how mature these trees are that have grown through them.
The head of the Cowanshannock Trail. This was built upon old railroad grade, though this must have definitely been a pretty tough grade for a train to traverse, likely leading to its closure in the first place.

The view down to the Cowanshannock Creek
Down to creek level. This is a stunning waterway, right in line with other whitewater creeks like the Slippery Rock Creek through McConnells Mill State Park. Simply beautiful. 
The giant boulders are awesome
I love these trees that have funky growth patterns. This tree looks like one of those old trail marking trees that were trained to grow in a different manner, to help guide people along a trail, similar to blazes on a tree, or rock cairns. I wonder why this tree has such a funky growth pattern. 
You can see that there are some really awesome rapids through this section of the creek.
You can see how challenging this area of rapids would be to traverse though. I would not recommend attempting this section unless you are very experienced and have surveyed the creek area first. 
Back up on the climb of the trail. Here is a large bend within the creek. 

A nice little waterfall runs down the side of the gorge. As far as I am aware of, this is a set of unnamed falls.
I really love this set of falls, even though they were not the namesake falls
Slowing it down a bit!
Back down to the creek. The further you go up the creek, the more intense the rapids become. I can't believe how this area of creek seems to be often overlooked. Stunning scenery. Be sure to head to this place in Armstrong County if you would like a nice hike along a whitewater creek that is roughly two miles round trip. 

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