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The 10 Best State Parks in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State parks

Pennsylvania is a beautiful state full of natural resources. However, after the Civil War, people began noticing that what was once a lush and beautiful area had little resemblance to its former glory after the mining industry began. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, their organization was founded in 1886 to replace the loss. Twelve years later, the first project to save Valley Forge, George Washington's encampment, began with a group of private citizens. During the early 1900s, people began traveling more and needed somewhere to stay during their travels. Since hotels didn't exist except for the upper class, the Forestry department started setting up campgrounds throughout the state parks. The second state park was created during the 1920s, Pennsylvania State Park at Erie. Despite ups and downs in the Pennsylvania Park system, between 2009 and 2011, the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks was recognized; winning the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration who partners with the National Recreation and Park Association. In 1893, Pennsylvania had one state park. Now, there are 121. These are the top ten best State Parks in Pennsylvania.

10. Nockamixon

The park is almost 6000 acres and is located in Bucks County near Philadelphia. Three different creeks run into the 1450 acre Lake; Thickon Creek, Three Mile Run, and Haycock. It is also a place to see migrating waterfowl and a great place for boating and fishing. Additionally, there are multiple cabins available and a swimming pool, disc golfing course, and trails for hiking and biking.

9. Marsh Creek

This park is located in North Central Chester county and has 1784 acres, 535 acres is Marsh Creek Lake. One of the things the park offers is a lot of environmental education programs. People who visit the park can take guided walks and learn how they can preserve the park's natural resources and history. According to All Trails, another draw to the park is are the trails. IN fact, there are seven different trails geared for hiking as well as running.

8. Cherry Hill

If you want to see the night sky, this Pennsylvania park is the best place to see them. Not only is this park a great place for novice stargazers it also attracts many astronomy students. Sometimes, the Aurora Borealis as well as Venus are visible in the sky. In fact, it's known as one of the best places to study astronomy on the East Coast. The park is one of the smallest in Pennsylvania, less than 100 acres. The area was named after the black cherry trees that used to grow in the area.

7. Worlds End

This park has a fascinating history. There were two horse trails that early pioneers used to cross Muncy Creek to Loyalstock Creek at Forksville. Today, the Pioneer Road Trail and the Worlds End Road follow the same path. Many people think the Worlds End Vista where the two trails meet is how the park got its name. Thankfully, the park has been restored since the early twentieth century, when logging was a predominant industry. During that time, sawmills cut down trees that floated down creeks, leaving only stumps that caused many forest fires. The Department of Forests and Waters started restoring the park in 1929.

6. Lehigh Gorge

Some of the most beautiful features in this park ate the steep gorge with a river running through it and waterfalls. Whitewater rafting is available, as well as biking trails. Additionally, there are is an abandoned railroad grade which is a great place to get some fantastic selfies. The park is 6107 acres and follows the Leighigh river from the Francis E. Walter dam to Jim Thorpe.

5. Cook Forest

Kayaking, tubing, and canoeing are some of the popular activities in this park since it features a thirteen-mile river. Besides water activities, a beautiful vista, Seneca Point Overlook, has a three hundred and sixty-five-degree view of the Clarion River Vallery. Hikers can take clime to the top of the Historic Fire Tower, which is 80 feet high, and nature enthusiasts can marvel at the native hemlock and white pine trees. One thing that makes this park a standout is the Sawmill Center for the Arts, a nonprofit with classes and demonstrations of crafts native to Pennsylvania during summer and fall. Cook Forrest State park is almost 9000 acres, including the 3136-acre Clarion River.

4. Leonard Harrison

This park is located on the edge of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is 585 acres. It's also one of the only parks in the state to offer a gift park. There are also many scenic trails like Turkey Path and Pine Creek Rail Trail, a sixty-two-mile trail great for hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing. Additionally, there are trails designed explicitly for horseback riding. However, it is not allowed on the limestone gravel trail.

3. Caledonia

Situated between Adams and Franklin counties in Caledonia State Park, which is 1125 acres located in the northernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the easternmost ride of the Allegheny Mountains. Two homes are available as rentals all year. Additionally, there are 184 camping spots located in two campgrounds available from April until December, when deer season begins.

2. Ricketts Glen

According to Trips to Discover, this park is one of the most beautiful in the state. It stretches through three different counties; Columbia, Sullivan, and Luzerne and are over 130000 acres. One of the most stunning features in Ganoga Falls is 94 tall. Additionally, there are twenty-one other waterfalls in the park which is located near Bloomsburg. Another reason why people flock to this park is the Falls Trail System as well as Lake Jean. Moreover, it's a great park all year round and features cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing in winter. In late June, nature enthusiasts can marvel at the mountain laurel bloom. It is also a park for hunting.

1. Pymatuning

This park is over 21000 acres, split into a series of smaller parks between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Additionally, it has three campgrounds, Pymatuning, Linesville, and Jamestown. There are also many cabins which can be reserved in advance. Swimming is another popular pastime in the park since there are four different beaches, Linesville, Tuttle, and two Jamestown. According to Pymatuning State Park, Pymatuning Lake is the best fishing area in the state that offers various fish, including catfish, and small and largemouth bass; make sure you have a fishing license.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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