Visiting Every Pennsylvania State Park

This post is about visiting all 121 Pennsylvania State Parks and it’s a work in progress! If you’re looking for a specific park, scroll through the lists to see if I’ve visited it yet.

Why Did I Decide to Visit Every PA State Park?

I am a goal oriented person. I like planning and checklists and marking off those checklists once I’ve completed every task. Going on random hikes didn’t get me into hiking – completing the Full on CVNP2 Challenge, a 115-mile hiking challenge in Cuyahoga Valley National Park got me into hiking. (For more about that, visit my post about the challenge!)

After moving to Pittsburgh, I wanted to set some new goals. There wasn’t a Full on CVNP equivalent here, so what could I create for my task oriented, type A, planner self that was challenging, yet possible?

The thought came to me as I was driving from Pittsburgh to Lancaster to visit family.

What if I visited all 121 Pennsylvania state parks?

Was it even possible to get all 121? If I had really been thinking, I should have started this when I lived in Philadelphia as getting from Pittsburgh to the parks in the northeastern part of the state was going to require some serious planning.

But I like planning, and I like goals, and I love Pennsylvania, so I decided to visit every single Pennsylvania State Park.

On that first trip from Pittsburgh to Lancaster to Philly and back home, I was able to knock out three parks. Then two weekends later we planned a trip up north that hit up three more. While I don’t plan to use all of my weekends to visit PA state parks, I think that I’ll be done with about half of them in a year.

It’s certainly a marathon and not a sprint. But I plan to visit every single one of them and walk at least half a mile in each (driving through doesn’t count!). Follow me on my journey to visit all 121 Pennsylvania state parks!

Updated Park Count

This post is a work in progress! Keep checking back as I add more parks and park guides. Note: updated as of August 4, 2022

  • Visited: 20 – Bendigo, Canoe Creek, Cook Forest, Clear Creek, Elk, Kinzua Bridge, Laurel Ridge, Marsh Creek, Moraine, McConnells Mill, Oil Creek, Poe Paddy, Poe Valley, Point, Raccoon Creek, Reed’s Gap, Ridley Creek, Shawnee, Whipple Dam and Yellow Creek
  • Up Next: Hillman, Penn-Roosevelt, Presque Isle, Ohiopyle

For more information on each park and to check hours, accessibility, and amenities at each park, visit the PA DNCR website.

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're exploring the wonderful trails of Pennsylvania!

List of Pennsylvania State Parks by Region

Below is a list of the state parks I’ve visited, by region, with quick summaries, pictures, and links to guides for each park!

Western PA

Allegheny Island State Park

Allegheny Island is only accessible by boat, making it one of the most unique state parks in all of Pennsylvania. The 50-acre park consists of two islands and seven shoals in the Allegheny River. Since it’s only accessible by water, it’s one of the most underdeveloped state parks in Pennsylvania.

Cook Forest State Park

Located in northwestern PA, Cook Forest State Park is an outdoor mecca. You want camping? You got it. Hiking? You got it. Canoeing or kayaking? You got it! Cook Forest is known for its old growth forest and is my personal favorite state park in Pennsylvania. Learn more about my favorite sights in Cook Forest here!

Henry Run Falls is worth the hike!

Clear Creek State Park

Only 11 miles from Cook Forest, Clear Creek is another gem of a park in northwestern PA. The park offers camping, hiking, and fishing on the Clarion.

Hillman State Park

Hillman is located just over thirty minutes west of Pittsburgh. The park offers over 34 miles of multi-use trails. This park is an active state game land – so plan your visit accordingly! One of the most unique features of Hillman is that it contains a radio controlled model airport.

Laurel Ridge State Park

Laurel Ridge State Park is the home of Western PA’s main backpacking trail – the Laurel Highlands Trail. This 70 mile trail is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic trail and is extremely well marked. Eight overnight shelter areas offer tent sites as well as Adirondack style shelters.

An overlook off of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Laurel Ridge

McConnells Mill State Park

Close to Pittsburgh, McConnells Mill is named after its namesake Mill. For more about visiting McConnells Mill State Park, click here!

Fall in McConnells Mill State Park

Moraine State Park

The jewel of Moraine State Park is the 3,225 acre Lake Arthur, with 42 miles of shoreline. The park offers boat launches for private boats, boat rentals, swimming areas, and beach areas. Despite being centered on water sports, Moraine also has a ton of great hiking including 17 miles of the North Country Trail.

Oil Creek State Park

If you like waterfalls and history, this is your park! The scenic Oil Creek runs through the park, having carved steep hillsides that are perfect for waterfalls. History buffs will love the historic train station and the park’s history as an oil boom town.

Walking over the footbridge at Pioneer Falls in Oil Creek State Park

Point State Park

Located in downtown (or “dahntahn”, as the locals call it) Pittsburgh, Point State Park is an urban park at the confluence of the Monongahaela and Allegheny rivers. Featuring a tall fountain, this is a great place to take a lunchtime stroll if you’re visiting Pittsburgh.

Point State Park is named after the point of confluence.

Racoon Creek State Park

Raccoon Creek is about forty minutes west of Pittsburgh. The park has 27 miles of hiking-only trails and 11 miles of multi-use trails. It also features the 101-acre Raccoon Lake and a wildflower reserve that contains one of the most bio-diverse and unique strands of wildflowers in Pennsylvania.

Yellow Creek State Park

Yellow Creek is just under ninety minutes east of Pittsburgh. Park goers can enjoy the beaches and picnic areas along the shore of Yellow Creek Lake. The lake is popular with boaters and fisherman during all seasons.

Yellow Creek is named after the yellow-ish sand on the bottom of the creek

Eastern PA State Parks

Ridley Creek State Park

Close to Philadelphia, this park is one of the best PA State Parks. It gets crowded, so go early in busy season! For more info on trails in Ridley Creek State Park, click here.

Looking at the Ridley Creek in Ridley Creek State Park

Marsh Creek State Park

Less than an hour from both Lancaster and Philadelphia, Marsh Creek State Park boasts a lake popular for boating and fishing. While not the best park for hiking, Marsh Creek is still great for families and can get very crowded in the summer. For more info on Marsh Creek, click here.

Picnic area off the Red Trail in Marsh Creek State Park

Southern PA State Parks

Canoe Creek State Park

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.

Greenwood Furnace State Park

Historic Greenwood Furnace 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!

Shawnee State Park

Located 10 miles outside of Bedford, Shawnee State Park features a 450 acre lake for boating, swimming, and fishing as well as hiking trails and a disc golf course.

A cold day at Shawnee State Park

Whipple Dam State Park

Located 12 miles 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 one 3-mile trail that circumnavigates the lake.

Northern PA State Parks

Kinzua Bridge State Park

One of the most unique state parks I’ve ever visited, Kinzua Bridge features a skywalk looking over the collapsed towers of the former Kinzua Viaduct. For more on visiting this park, click here!

A view of the eleven Kinzua Viaduct towers that were shredded in a 2003 tornado

Elk State Park

Elk State Park is located in the northern mountains of the state and features one of the largest lakes of all the state parks. East Branch Lake is 1,160 acres and allows unlimited horsepower boats, which makes it great for water-skiing. For more about the park, click here.

The lake at Elk State Park

Bendigo State Park

Bendigo is one of the smaller state parks at only 100 acres. The once polluted East Branch of the Clarion River runs through it and provides excellent trout fishing. To read more about Bendigo, click here!

A snowy day in late April at Bendigo State Park

Poe Paddy State Park

Poe Paddy State Park is located at the confluence of Big Poe Creek and Penns Creek. The park is popular for camping and trout fishing.

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.

Reed’s Gap State Park

Reed’s Gap is located in New Lancaster, PA. The park features a beautiful forest surrounding the Honey Creek, which runs through the park.

Ok, but what are the BEST Pennsylvania State Parks to visit? Below is a list my favorite Pennsylvania State Parks (so far!)

Cook Forest State Park
Kinzua Bridge State Park
McConnells Mill State Park

List of PA State Parks in Alphabetical Order

Below is a list of the state parks I’ve visited, in alphabetical order, with links to guides for each park!

  1. Bendigo State Park
  2. Cook Forest State Park
  3. Canoe Creek State Park
  4. Clear Creek State Park
  5. Elk State Park
  6. Kinzua Bridge State Park
  7. Laurel Ridge State Park
  8. Marsh Creek State Park
  9. McConnells Mill State Park
  10. Moraine State Park
  11. Oil Creek State Park
  12. Poe Paddy State Park
  13. Poe Valley State Park
  14. Point State Park
  15. Raccoon Creek State Park
  16. Reed’s Gap State Park
  17. Ridley Creek State Park
  18. Shawnee State Park
  19. Whipple Dam State Park
  20. Yellow Creek State Park

Keep checking back on this post as I visit more and update each guide! Which state park is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Post Updated September 5, 2022

Leave a Comment