20 Pennsylvania State Parks

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There are a whopping 124 state parks in Pennsylvania all with something different to discover. From the beautiful waterfalls of Ricketts Glen State Park to the rich history of Gettysburg National Military Park there’s a park for every interest. Check out these Pennsylvania state parks the next time you visit the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania State Parks

20 State Parks In Pennsylvania

1- Ricketts Glen State Park

Waterfalls and fall colours
Ricketts Glen is one of the Pennsylvania state parks that is stunning to explore in the fall.

Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most scenic state parks in Pennsylvania.

The park is large at 13,193 acres and it is actually spread across three counties: Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia.

There’s so much to do at this park but if you only do one thing it should be hiking the Falls Trail System.

Along the trail you will be able to discover glens and see cascading waterfalls, including 22 named falls.

Ganoga Falls is the tallest at 94 feet.

There’s plenty more to do at the park, including having a swim at the beach at Lake Jean.

The lake is also suitable for boating and there are rentals available during summer.

You can stay overnight at their campground.

If you plan on visiting in winter there are snowmobile, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

The park is around 30 miles north of Bloomsburg on the PA 487.

Ricketts Glen State Park is at 695 PA-487, Benton, PA 17814.

2- Independence National Historical Park

Independence Hall In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Independence National Historical Park is one of the best state parks in Pennsylvania for history lovers.

This historical state park is in downtown Philadelphia, around 15 minutes’ walk from Philadelphia City Hall.

Independence National Historical Park (INHP) is often known as the birthplace of American democracy.

Within INHP there’s the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Centre, Congress Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Independence Visitor Centre.

Most of these attractions are free to visit, making for a fun, informative and free day out.

There’s plenty of history to remind yourself about or learn for the first time.

Independence Hall was where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence back in 1776.

The framework for the U.S. Constitution was also worked on at this site.

It’s best to start your day at the visitor centre in order to gather information and make the most out of your time at this Philadelphia historical park.  

Independence National Historical Park is at Philadelphia, PA 19106.

3- French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park is in eastern Pennsylvania around one hour’s drive from downtown Philadelphia. 

If you are searching for an outdoor oasis look no further than French Creek.

The park sits in the Schuylkill Highlands and its 7,730 acres is the largest block adjoining forest between Washington D.C. and New York City!

Hiking, fishing, camping and biking among the forest, wetlands and fields of French Creek is what draws visitors. 

The park’s campground is open from March to the first week of January and offers all the necessary amenities like showers and restrooms.

The campground has 60 sites with electric hook-ups and some full-hook-up services.

For something more luxurious there are 10 furnished cabins, three camping cottages and yurt.

French Creek State Park is at 843 Park Rd, Elverson, PA 19520.

4- Hickory Run State Park

rocks at Hickory Run State Park Pennsylvania
For a rocky landscape, one of the interesting state parks in Pennsylvania is Hickory Run State Park.

Hickory Run State Park is just a two-hour drive from New York’s Manhattan and 1 hour 35 minutes from Philadelphia.

This park sits in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains so the surrounding scenery is just as wonderful as the park itself.

This park is all about getting outside, including hiking on the more than 40 miles of trail networks.

One of the most interesting walks is across Boulder Field, which is a landscape that has remained unchanged for around 20,000 years.

The severe lack of vegetation and the presence of tons of boulders makes this a strange and unique place to visit.

You can also check out Hawk Falls, the Stametz Dam, Lehigh Gorge and Sand Spring Lake.

Hickory Run State Park is at 3613 PA-534, White Haven, PA 18661. 

5- Raccoon Creek State Park

Raccoon Creek State Park is in western Pennsylvania, just 35 minutes’ drive outside of Pittsburgh.

This is the state’s largest and most frequented state park and its 7,572 acres include the 101-acre Raccoon Lake.

One of the most beautiful parts of the park is the 300-acre wildflower reserve.

You can discover your favourite part of the park by heading out on the 40 miles of hiking trails.

The Forest Trail and Lake Trail are two of the most popular trails in the park.

By far one of the park’s most popular attractions is the Frankfort Mineral Springs Waterfall.

It’s a quaint and cute little waterfall.

There are camping facilities at Raccoon Creek State Park, including 172 modern tent campsites, as well as modern cabins and Lakeside Lodge.

Raccoon Creek State Park is at 3000 PA-18, Hookstown, PA 15050.

 6- Ohiopyle State Park

Bridge In Ohiopyle
Ohiopyle State Park is one of the interesting state parks are in Pennsylvania

Ohiopyle State Park is in southern Pennsylvania around 1 hour 15 minutes’ drive from Pittsburgh.

The park is the gateway to the Laurel Highlands and covers an impressive 20,500 acres.

As the park is so close to Pittsburgh, it’s a popular spot for day trippers and millions of people visit each year.

The Youghiogheny River Gorge runs through the park.

Nicknamed the Yough, this river offers visitors some of the best whitewater boating.

You can also visit the Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center.

The center has a number of exhibits about the local wildlife and you can find out about all the recreational facilities the park has to offer.

Ohiopyle State Park is at 124 Main St, Ohiopyle, PA 15470.

7- Canoe Creek State Park

river and reeds in canoe creek
Canoe Creek State Park, Pennsylvania.

Canoe Creek State Park is 102 miles east of Pittsburgh.

There’s so much to do in this state park that it’s a good job there’s overnight accommodation to extend your stay.

There are modern cabins within walking distance of the swimming area and they can be rented year-round.

At the centre of this 961-acre park is the 155-acre Canoe Creek Lake that is a popular fishing spot throughout the year.

Anglers at the lake can expect to catch bass, trout, perch, catfish, crappies, panfish and chain pickerel. 

Visitors love bringing picnics and swimming at the beach.

The park also runs a number of educational programs that are fun for all ages.

Canoe Creek State Park is at 205 Canoe Creek Rd, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.  

8- Leonard Harrison State Park

Leonard Harrison State Park is also known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania’!

This state park is in central northern Pennsylvania just 20 minutes’ drive outside of Wellsboro on the eastern rim of the canyon.

This park offers some of the best views of the canyon and if you want to head to the other side of the canyon, you will find Colton Point State Park.

Leonard Harrison State Park is also the location of Turkey Path, one of the best hiking trails in Pine Creek Gorge. 

The overlook area makes for some incredible photographs.

Sometimes you will be lucky to see the lingering mist in the gorge as well as perfect clear blue skies. 

Leonard Harrison State Park is at 4797 PA-660, Wellsboro, PA 16901.

9- Hyner View State Park

Close to the banks of the West Branch Susquehanna River, Hyner View State Park is a wonderful central Pennsylvania state park.

If you are looking for a state park in Pennsylvania with an iconic, picturesque view look no further than Hyner View State Park.

This was actually the first scenic overlook in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

When visiting this scenic vista chances are you will be able to watch hang gliders seemingly floating in the sky.

This overlook offers sensational views of the West Branch Susquehanna River.

While the view is gorgeous year-round, of course you cannot beat the autumnal colours.

Hyner View State Park is at 86 Hyner Park Road, North Bend, PA 17760. 

10- Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg Battlefield
Gettysburg National Military Park is one of the most famous state parks in Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg National Military Park is outside Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania.

This is an amazing park to visit if you are interested in American history.

The Battle of Gettysburg (1863) marked a turning point in the Civil War when the Union overcame the Confederates led by General Robert E. Lee. 

This marked the end of the second invasion of the north.

It is recommended to start your visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park at the Museum and Visitor Center.

If you want to learn more about Gettysburg then there are plenty of ranger led programs and educational courses to enrol in at the park.

Gettysburg National Military Park is at Gettysburg, PA 17325.

11- Lehigh Gorge State Park

River and trees reflected in the water at Lehigh Gorge
The trees reflected in the water at Lehigh Gorge State Park Pennsylvania.

Lehigh Gorge State Park is just over two hours from New York City and under two hours from Philadelphia. 

The Lehigh River carved out the gorge and one of the best ways to see the spectacle is to hike the Lehigh Gorge Trail.

There is also an interesting abandoned railroad that runs by the river offering excellent hiking, biking, photography and sightseeing opportunities here.

Lehigh Gorge State Park is also an excellent place to spend a couple of nights with family or friends.

The Lehigh Gorge Family Campground has been operating for more than 40 years and is located along the Lehigh River.

The campground has a playground, pavilion, horseshoe pits and a stocked pond.

Lehigh Gorge State Park is at S Lehigh Gorge Dr, Weatherly, PA 18255.

12- Cook Forest State Park 

green trees and river in cook forest
Another of the state parks in Pennsylvania to visit is Cook Forest State Park.

Drive 1 hour 50 minutes northeast of Pittsburgh and you will discover the beauty of Cook Forest State Park.

If you fancy being surrounded by dense forest and losing yourself in nature, this is a wonderful state park.

You will be surrounded by the old growth forest, towering white pines and hemlock trees.

The park encompasses 13 miles of Clarion River, which is an excellent spot for canoeing, tubing and kayaking.

If you are searching for amazing lookout points then head to the Fire Tower Road which is just 1.5 miles off Route 36.

Seneca Point Overlook offers lovely views of Clarion River Valley.

You can also hike up the 80-foot Historic Fire Tower which on a clear day allows you to enjoy views up to 20 miles away.

Cook Forest State Park is at Leeper, PA 16233.  

13- Cherry Springs State Park

stars in the sky at Cherry Springs State Park Pennsylvania
For incredible night sky viewing, head to Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania.

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the most remote parks in Pennsylvania and it’s only 20 minutes outside of Coudersport. 

Stargazers flock to Cherry Springs State Park because of the incredible views of the Milky Way.

There is a Night Sky Public Viewing Area at the park that is for short stay stargazing (a few hours or less).

If you want to stay for longer you will need to register to stay at the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field.

You can also try your luck at spotting the constellations by staying at Cherry Springs Rustic Campground. 

The park was named after the black cherry trees found throughout the area.

You can explore this state park as well as the nearby Susquehannock State Forest along the Susquehannock Trail which passes nearby. 

Cherry Springs State Park is at 4639 Cherry Springs Rd, Coudersport, PA 16915.

14- Worlds End State Park

fall colours at Worlds End State Park
Nature paints a palette of fall at Worlds End State Park in Pennsylvania.

Worlds End State Park is located on one of the meanders in Loyalsock Creek south of Forksville in Sullivan County. 

This Pennsylvania state park is surrounded by the Loyalsock State Forest and the Endless Mountains.

From scenic vistas to waterfalls there’s plenty to see in the park. 

You can hike the High Rock Trail which embarrasses the ruggedness of Worlds End State Park.

High Rock Falls is just 1/3 of a mile from the High Rock Trailhead; High Rock Vista which looks out over Loyalsock Creek.

One of the most highly anticipated overlooks in the park is Loyalsock Canyon Vista.

It’s easy to access as you can drive straight to it.

Worlds End State Park is at 82 Cabin Bridge Rd, Forksville, PA 18616.

15- Nockamixon State Park

Nockamixon State Park is 35 minutes from Allentown and 1 hour 15 minutes from Philadelphia, making the ideal day trip spot from either city.

This park is surrounded by rolling hills and three creeks feed the 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon.

You won’t just find boaters and anglers on the lake but also migrating waterfowl.

Other activities at Nockamixon include picnics, swimming at the pool, disc golf, biking and hiking.

There are around 25 miles of trails that horse riders, hikers and mountain bikers are allowed to use. 

While there is no camping allowed in the park there are 10 cabins to rent.

Nockamixon State Park is at 1542 Mountain View Dr, Quakertown, PA 18951.  

16- Trough Creek State Park

Next to the winding, snake-like Raystown Lake is Trough Creek State Park.

The park is 2 ½ hours from Pittsburgh and 3 ½ hours from Philadelphia.

Trough Creek State Park is a 541 acre park that showcases a scenic gorge that was formed by Great Trough Creek that cut through Terrace Mountain.

Hiking is on the agenda with a visit to Trough Creek State Park.

Some of the trails lead you to Balanced Rock and Rainbow Falls.

There’s a campground at Trough Creek State Park with 29 sites that is open between mid-April and mid-December.

Trough Creek State Park is at 16362 Little Valley Rd, James Creek, PA 16657.  

17- Promised Land State Park  

Promised Land State Park is in eastern Pennsylvania on the Pocono Plateau.

The park stands at 1,800 feet above sea level and is surrounded by the Delaware State Forest. 

The park has two lakes, Promised Land Lake and Lower Lake, both of which are used for recreational fun.

You can go fishing and boating on the lake.

Common fish at the lake include largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, sunfish, catfish, and muskellunge.

The lower lake also offers trout fishing, including brook, brown and rainbow trout.

Promised Land State Park is at 100 Lower Lake Rd, Greentown, PA 18426.  

18- Valley Forge National Historical Park

The National Memorial Arch At Valley Forge National Historical
Valley Forge National Historical Park is one of the state parks in Pennsylvania to visit. Pictured here is the National Memorial Arch.

Valley Forge National Historical Park is next to the Schuylkill River in eastern Pennsylvania.

This historical park marks the point of the Continental Army’s encampment site which was used during the winter of 1777 and 1778.

Whether you are specifically interested in the American Revolutionary War or just American history in general this is a wonderful state park to visit. 

The park is set in 3,500 acres of woodlands and meadows and there are monuments dedicated to the Revolutionary War dotted around the park. 

You can take a tour of the encampment by either driving the 10 mile loop (which has nine tour stops) or walking to parts of the park. 

Valley Forge National Historical Park is at 1400 N Outer Line Dr, King of Prussia, PA 19406.

19- Kinzua Bridge State Park

Kinzua Bridge State Park Pennsylvania
One of the unusual Pennsylvania state parks to visit is Kinzua Bridge State Park.

Kinzua Bridge State Park is in northern Pennsylvania close to the Allegheny National Forest.

At the centre of this McKean County state park is the reinvented Kinzua Viaduct.

This viaduct was once the tallest and longest railroad in the world at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high.

The viaduct was partly destroyed by a tornado back in 2003.

By 2011 the viaduct was turned into a pedestrian walkway and visitors can now walk 600 feet along the bridge.

There are picnic spots along the trail to the bridge and you can also fish for brook trout on Kinzua Creek.

You can also head out along the Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway which is used for hiking and biking.

Kinzua Bridge State Park is at 296 Viaduct Rd, Mt Jewett, PA 16740.

20- Presque Isle State Park

In the northwest corner of Pennsylvania on Lake Erie you will find Presque Isle State Park.

The park is around 1 hour 45 minutes’ drive from Cleveland, Ohio and just less than two hours’ drive north of Pittsburgh. 

Presque Isle State Park is a sandy peninsula and the only sea-like shore that Pennsylvania has.

This park is a popular place for people looking to go boating, fish, swim, hike, bike and in-line skate.

The park is a wonderful spot for bird watching as it’s a migratory area.

The park is home to more of the state’s endangered, threatened and rare species than in any other place of comparable size in the state. 

Presque Isle State Park is at 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!