Nine State Parks Near State College

If you’re a Penn State visitor or student, explore these nine awesome state parks near State College!

The beautiful stonework makes the Greenwood Furnace spillway a work of art as well as functional

State College, PA is known best for being the home of Penn State, but did you know it’s close to NINE state parks? These state parks have a ton to offer every type of visitor – from hikers to bikers to swimmers or anglers. There is something for everyone at each one of these parks!

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're out exploring! Pack out all trash, leave wildlife alone, and generally leave it better than you found it - for more information visit the Leave No Trace Center.

State Parks Near State College, PA

Click the hyperlink to jump to a description of each of the parks!

Read on for more details about each of these parks!

Looking to visit more Pennsylvania State Parks? Check out my post listing all of my PA State Park guides for tips on visiting some of my favorites!

State Parks 30 Minutes from State College

Bald Eagle State Park

At 5,400 acres, this is the largest park close to State College. The park has a ton of options for all visitors – boating (unlimited horsepower), swimming, and hunting. Bald Eagle offers many options for visitors to stay overnight. The park has camping cottages, rustic campsites, full hookups and even two yurts! It’s about thirty minutes away from State College.

Black Moshannon State Park

Black Moshannon is about thirty minutes northwest of State College. The park’s name comes from a combination of the Iroquis word “moss-hanne” (meaning moose stream) with black referring to the color of the lake water. The park offers boating and boat rentals, four miles of mountain bike trails, 24 miles of hiking trails, swimming, and hunting. To explore the bog, visitors can take the wheelchair accessible half-mile Bog Trail or opt for the more challenging 7.7-mile Moss-Hanne trail.

woman on boardwalk overlooking bog
Bog Trail had a lovely boardwalk

Greenwood Furnace State Park

Greenwood Furnace is thirty minutes from State College. This historic state park highlights the industry present in the area through the early 20th century. The historic town, including an old furnace and blacksmith’s shop, is a great place to explore the past. The 400+ acre park also features a lake, hiking trails, and a campground. Visit nearby Whipple Dam State Park and Rothrock State Forest to complete your visit!

Just after sunrise at Greenwood Furnace

Whipple Dam State Park

Located 12 miles (about twenty minutes) south of State College, Whipple Dam is a great park for families with young children. The lake has a small swimming area and there is an easy 3-mile trail that circumnavigates the lake. It’s also only a quick and easy fifteen minute drive from Greenwood Furnace State Park.

Whipple Dam swimming area before it filled with tons of families!
Don't forget to bring your ten essentials for day hiking when visiting these parks!

State Parks Under an Hour From State College

Penn-Roosevelt State Park

At 41 acres, Penn-Roosevelt is one of the smaller parks in the system. This park offers camping (tents only) cross-country skiing, and an equestrian trail. While this park has no hiking, it can be used as a base camp for hikers who want to explore nearby Rothrock State Forest. Penn-Roosevelt is just over thirty minutes from State College.

Reed’s Gap

Reed’s Gap is located in New Lancaster, PA and is just over forty minutes from State College. The park features a beautiful forest surrounding the Honey Creek, which runs through the park. This would be a good park for young kids who like to explore a creek and have a picnic as there were tons of beautiful picnic spots. The first time I visited, I wasn’t super impressed because I was just there to hike. However, the second time I visited, I camped there and LOVED it. It’s one of my favorite parks to camp at.

Honey Creek at Reed’s Gap State Park

Poe Paddy State Park

Poe Paddy is located just over fifty minutes from State College (though the drive might be longer due to being mostly on gravel roads). The park is located at the confluence of Big Poe Creek and Penns Creek. The park is popular for camping and trout fishing.

Morning reflection at Poe Paddy State Park

Poe Valley State Park

Larger than Poe Paddy, Poe Valley’s main feature is its 25-acre lake, which is popular for kayaking and fishing. Poe Valley is surrounded by Bald Eagle State Forest and most of the hiking trails cross over into the state forest. This park is just under fifty minutes from State College.

Summer sunrise at Poe Valley State Park

Canoe Creek State Park

At fifty minutes away from State College, Canoe Creek is the furthest park on this list . Despite being named after a creek, Canoe Creek’s main feature is the 155-acre lake that is popular for fishing and kayaking. Canoe Creek has many places to camp and hike and is located in Hollidaysburg, PA.

Canoe Creek Lake during a lovely summer evening
Want to visit more state parks when you're exploring Pennsylvania? Check out these posts!
  -  State Parks Near Lancaster
  -  State Parks Near Harrisburg
  -  State Parks Near Pittsburgh
  -  State Parks Near Philadelphia

For more information on each of these state parks, visit the PA DCNR website to explore parks by region!

Updated November 26, 2023

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