Fall Run Park is a delightful little park in Shaler Township, located off of (guesses, anyone?) Fall Run Road. From the parking lot (which is located just past a small jungle gym and a soccer field), a gentle trail leads over numerous bridges (appositely mirroring its mother city’s plethora of said structures) to a waterfall. The waterfall, the park’s primary attraction, is a genuinely impressive spectacle (at least for this region; no humble half-hearted trickle is Fall Run’s cascade). It may not rival Angel Falls in any manner, but that’s part of the beauty of this park; because it’s relatively unknown, crowds are at a minimum.
The trail is about a mile long and can be walked in less than twenty minutes (one way). Part of the joy of the park is its setting in something of a ravine; although the hills that surround the trail are, in truth, not particularly mountainous, one still gets the sensation of being shrunken by the surrounding heights. The waterfall is located about 2/3s of the way in, and in order to finish out the trail, a climb up a steep set of stairs is required at this point, although the best view of the waterfall itself is located at the base of the stairwell. Beware: the stones at the bottom of the stairs are often far more slippy (sic) than the stairs themselves are.
After the waterfall and a half dozen more bridges, the trail somewhat unceremoniously ends at a parking lot that almost no one uses because the only way to access it is by wandering deep into a complicated residential plan, and I would assume that anyone who lived in that area and was interested in visiting Fall Run would simply walk down the hill to the parking lot, but I could be wrong (witness the masses of people who will spend fifteen minutes circling a shopping mall parking lot waiting for that perfect space to open up near the crosswalk and the cart return, bypassing dozens of perfectly good spots whose only flaws are their terrifying distances from the front door).
Benches are at a minimum throughout the trail, so if you like to bring a bagged lunch or a book out into the wild (or what passes for the wild in this region), using one of the boulders in the creek as a bench/table seems to be a popular option, an excellent example of resourcefulness at work, and besides, scrambling through ditches and over boulders is a useful way of exploring all that “child within” stuff.
Directions: From Pittsburgh, head north on Rt. 8; the turn for Fall Run Road will be on the right a mile or so after the turn for Saxonburg Boulevard. From Butler, head south on Rt. 8; the turn will be on the left. The intersection for Fall Run Road is across a massive Harley-Davidson store (on the left heading north, on the right heading south) and is a three-way intersection with a traffic light. Once on Fall Run Road, make the first left after the bridge and then follow the road past the soccer field to the parking lot.