Blackwater Falls State Park is located about two miles (3 km) southwest of Davis. It protects 2,358 acres (954 ha) of red spruce and eastern hemlock upland forest. (Other important tree species in the park include yellow birch, American beech, red maple and black cherry.)
The "Great Falls" of Blackwater River Connoquenessing sandstone of the Middle Pottsville Formation. The Falls are usually cited as the highest above-ground falls (there are higher cave falls) in the state. A rocky prominence near the center of the Falls divides its waters into a distinctive formation, rendering its images instantly recognizable. In winter, the Falls often ice over completely. A broad trail descends about 320 feet (98 m) from the Falls parking lot to a wooden walkway and overlook, while a much steeper trail extends beyond to the basin below the Falls. On the opposite (east) side of the river, a longer trail ("Gentle Trail") also accesses the Falls from a higher vantage point.drop about 62 feet (19 m) at the head of Blackwater Canyon. The major ledge is composed of
A nature trail (wheelchair-accessible) near the park lodge leads to the more distant Lindy Point overlook, affording an excellent view south into the Canyon. There are several other smaller falls within the park. These chutes, cascades, and overhanging ledges on Falls Run (multi-ledge drop, 30 feet), Shay Run (Elakala Falls; 40 feet), and Pendleton Run (Pendleton Falls; 20 feet (6.1 m) plus cascades above and below) are accessible by trail.
The name of the first white explorer to stumble upon Blackwater Falls is not known. There was an oral tradition that it was the early hunter/explorer of the Potomac and Youghiogheny River watersheds Meshach Browning (1781–1859), but while this is plausible there is no documentary evidence for it. :596
Travel writer Philip Pendleton Kennedy described the Blackwater Canyon for a popular readership in 1853, but somehow managed to miss the Falls. The same year however, his companion and cousin, the illustrator David Hunter Strother (“Porte Crayon”), published “The Virginia Canaan” about his adventures in the Blackwater Country and the Falls entered the literature for the first time. Strother also published a more lengthy description of his June 1852 visit in an article called “The Mountains”. The Dobbin House was built near the Falls in 1858 and provided a popular lodge for visitors to the Falls during the 1860s and ‘70s.:596–597 A published account of a May 1879 visit to the Falls by recreationalists further popularized the site.