Visiting Every Pennsylvania State Park

This post is about visiting all 124 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 124 Pennsylvania state parks?

Was it even possible to get all of them? 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 couple of years.

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 the 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 November 13, 2023.

  • Visited: 35 – Bendigo, Big Boyd, Black Moshannon, Canoe Creek, Cook Forest, Cowan’s Gap, Clear Creek, Elk, Evansburg, Fort Washington, French Creek, Hillman, Keystone, Kinzua Bridge, Kooser, Laurel Hill, Laurel Mountain, Laurel Ridge, Laurel Summit, Linn Run, Laurel Ridge, Marsh Creek, Moraine, McConnells Mill, Ohiopyle, Oil Creek, Nolde Forest, Norristown Farm Park, Poe Paddy, Poe Valley, Point, Raccoon Creek, Reed’s Gap, Ridley Creek, Ryerson Station, Shawnee, Whipple Dam and Yellow Creek
  • Up Next: Penn-Roosevelt, Presque Isle, Pine Grove Furnace

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 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.

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. Clear Creek is very close to one of my favorite Western PA overlooks – Beartown Rocks!

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.

Kooser State Park

Kooser is located in the Laurel Highlands and is a small, but beautiful park. The park has a lake with a spillway and has about three miles of trails. Park users can also rent cabins.

Kooser Lake in winter

Laurel Mountain State Park

Laurel Mountain is unique because it’s a park dedicated entirely to skiing. The park features family-friendly slopes and a ski lodge.

Laurel Hill State Park

Located in Somerset County, Laurel Hill is over 4,000 acres featuring a lake and numerous campsites. The park has many miles of trails for hiking, cross country skiing, biking, and snowmobiling.

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

Laurel Summit State Park

Laurel Summit is a small park in the Laurel Highlands that is best known for being a location for multiple Forbes State Forest trailheads. Some of the main trails to access from Laurel Summit are Wolf Rocks, Spruce Bog, and the Laurel Highlands Trail.

Linn Run

A small park in the Laurel Highlands, Linn Run is a hidden gem. Linn Run only has a few miles of hiking trails but the park is worth the visit to see Adams Run Falls, a waterfall that’s beautiful in all seasons.

Adams Falls in winter

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.

Ohiopyle State Park

Ohioyle is one of the best parks in the state park system! It offers a ton of hiking, but is more known for rafting, kayaking, and other activities on the Youghiogheny River, which flows through the park. Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous architectural masterpiece, is located nearby.

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.

Raccoon 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
Located in or visiting Pittsburgh? Check out my post on state parks near Pittsburgh!

Eastern PA State Parks

French Creek State Park

A little over an hour away from Philadelphia, French Creek is a quiet respite from the bustle of the city. It’s a great place to look at beautiful fall foliage and is home to two lakes. The park also surrounds Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, which is worth a visit to see the historic industrial town! For more info on hiking French Creek, click here!

French Creek is lovely in the fall!

Ridley Creek State Park

This state park is home to twelve miles of hiking trails and is lovely in all seasons. Since Ridley Creek is the closest park to Philadelphia, it can get crowded, so go early in busy season! For more info on trails in Ridley Creek State Park, click here.

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
For more parks, check out my post on State Parks near Philadelphia!

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.

Looking for parks near you? Check out my post on nine state parks near State College or seven state parks near Lancaster!

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. While this park isn’t great for hiking, it’s a great spot to tent camp (no RVs allowed!)

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
Laurel Ridge 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!

If you’re looking for a full list of parks by region, check out my comprehensive list of Pennsylvania State Parks!

  1. Bendigo State Park
  2. Big Boyd State Park
  3. Black Moshannon State Park
  4. Cook Forest State Park
  5. Canoe Creek State Park
  6. Clear Creek State Park
  7. Cowan’s Gap State Park
  8. Elk State Park
  9. Evansburg State Park
  10. French Creek State Park
  11. Fort Washington State Park
  12. Hillman State Park
  13. Keystone State Park
  14. Kinzua Bridge State Park
  15. Kooser State Park
  16. Laurel Hill State Park
  17. Laurel Mountain State Park
  18. Laurel Ridge State Park
  19. Laurel Summit State Park
  20. Linn Run State Park
  21. Marsh Creek State Park
  22. McConnells Mill State Park
  23. Moraine State Park
  24. Ohiopyle State Park
  25. Oil Creek State Park
  26. Nolde Forest
  27. Norristown Farm Park
  28. Poe Paddy State Park
  29. Poe Valley State Park
  30. Point State Park
  31. Raccoon Creek State Park
  32. Reed’s Gap State Park
  33. Ridley Creek State Park
  34. Ryerson Station State Park
  35. Shawnee State Park
  36. Whipple Dam State Park
  37. 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 March 16, 2023

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