It is one of my goals to try to visit every state park in Pennsylvania. I’ve made pretty good progress so far, but I think some the parks in the western part of the state will be a challenge due to distance. This May I was able to stop by Colonel Denning State Park and Fowlers Hollow State Park.
Colonel Denning State Park in Newville, PA is named after a William Denning, a sergeant in the Continental Army, who made wrought iron cannon for the Army. He was never actually a Colonel. His namesake park hosts hiking, camping, boating, skating, cross country skiing and a swim beach and all the usual picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.
I also made it to Fowlers Hollow State Park, a small state park in Blain, PA in the valley of Fowler Hollow Run. One can hike, fish, picnic, hunt, horseback ride, mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile at the park. There is also a small campground. Its trail system connects with the trails in the Tuscarora State Forest.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, that due the corona virus lock down, I haven’t been out much doing photography. I did manage to drive around my local community getting some photos of the spring flowers and flowering trees. I also checked up on two of my local state parks, which were well attended by people glad to get out of the house while maintaining a safe distance from others.
Socially distant dispersed outdoor recreational fun was had by all.
The Laurel Highlands has options for fans of skiing and winter sports. First on the list has to be the famous Seven Springs Resort in Champion, PA. This year round resort has skiing, snow tubing, golf, tennis, swimming, dining, bowling, miniature golf, alpine slide, biking, hiking, outdoor adventure park, stables, lodging …. Well, you get the idea.
Hidden Valley is tucked away off of Route 31. In addition to skiing, there is tubing, dining, pubs, golf, a spa and adjacent vacation home development.
Finally, Laurel Mountain Ski Area at Laurel Mountain State Park offers skiing and dining. Alas, it is not possible to visit during the off season.
Southwestern Pennsylvania is a great area for state parks. In my last post, I explored the state parks with “laurel” in their names (due to the fact they are on or around the long ridge line known as Laurel Mountain). Today we’ll add a few more in the area.
Starting in Bedford County, I exited the turnpike at Bedford and soon found myself a Shawnee State Park. This park has a large lake, campground, beach, disc golf, hiking, fishing and other amenities.
The following day I went to check out Kooser State Park. This one also has a lake with fishing, hiking and picnicking. There is also a very nice small cabin colony there.
On my way to Laurel Summit State Park, I passed through Linn Run State Park. This a beautiful, forested park follows along the course of Linn Run. It is adjacent to the Forbes State forest. It offers stream fishing, hiking, picnicking and has a beautiful cabin colony for overnight stays. Admas Falls on Linn Run is a favorite scenic spot and has a picnic table available.
I spent Labor Day weekend in the Laurel Highlands with a stay at the cabins in Laurel Hill State Park. I also set out to visit some of the other state parks in the area, as well as a few other locations. Let’s start off with a look at my home base for the weekend.
Laurel Hill State Park contains a lake with a beach, boating opportunities, hiking trails, fishing, picnicking, camping and all the summer time fun that accompanies those things. It is located in Somerset County and reasonably convenient to the turnpike. The park is near several other state parks and Forbes State Forrest.
Men working for the WPA and CCC began the process of building what was to become Laurel Hill State Park on July 1, 1935 at CCC camps SP-8-PA and SP-16-PA. There is statue in the park commemorating these workers.
The lake is beautiful and surrounded by steep hills on one side.
There is fishing on Laurel Hill Creek and Jones Mill Run.
I also stopped some of the other nearby parks. I had quite a time getting to some of them, mostly due to relying too heavily on google maps. I ended up on some really sketchy forest roads, and I’m not typically one to shy away from a forest road. If I had double checked google’s routes versus a map, I would have done much better. At least I a saw a turkey.
Laurel Summit State Park is a small park with picnicking and acts as a trail head for the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and other trails. It is best accessed via Linn Run State Park. This route provides paved roads for most of the trip up the mountain to the park.
Laurel Ridge State Park has multiple sections along the ridge of Laurel Mountain. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trails passes through its sections. It is otherwise mostly undeveloped except for backpacking shelters and one picnic pavilion. The best access points are directly on Route 30 or 31 if you want to say you’ve been there and aren’t hiking or wildlife watching.
Finally, I attempted to visit Laurel Mountain State Park, which houses a ski area. I was there many years ago and hoped to drive in and take a look. Unfortunately, the gates were closed in the off season.
I had promised my cousin that we would take a camping trip to Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pennsylvania over the July Fourth holiday. I decided to stick with the plans despite a weather forecast calling for high heat and humidity with the added bonus of regular thunderstorms popping up. I went back and forth between calling this post “The Camping Trip from Hell” and “Silver Linings.” Ultimately, I couldn’t decide if it was good or bad.
I’m more of a fair weather camping kind of girl, I don’t mind a little rain, as long as I can set up when it ‘s not raining and everything has a chance to dry before I pack up. I was frustrated because all my trips last year were affected by rain, despite being out only 1-2 nights each time. I didn’t get my wish for fair weather on this trip. Everything was wet and/or dirty prior to departure. Pennsylvania is getting record rain, and it kind of stinks. At least the corn is high.
The park itself did not disappoint. I went primarily to see if I could get a glimpse of the newly fledged bald eagles that hatched in an oak tree above Lake Marburg this Spring. They are quite the web cam stars. I did not see the fledglings, but I did get my first look at the parents in flight, having only previously seen them in the nest or resting in a nearby tree. The weather prevented much else in the way of activity.
Nonetheless, it was not a complete loss. On the way to Hanover, I stopped briefly at Samuel S. Lewis State Park. It looks like a great place for a picnic and has a nice scenic view of the Susquehanna valley. The website also recommends kite flying and sledding, and it seems really well suited for those activities.
I arrived at Codorus and immediately started to set up camp.
Here is a look at lovely Lake Marburg,
On the way home, via Lake Redman, I made a few stops. The first was to photograph this hay field that was harvested just the day before.
I also took a few pictures of some of the lovely farms of southern York County.
I spent the Labor Day weekend at Promised Land State Park in Pike County. I stayed in the CCC constructed Bear Wallow Cabin area. This is one of my favorite areas of the park, being close to the Wildlife Observation Station. The cabins also have a lot of rustic charm. The park is also a great jumping off point for side trips to Lake Wallenpaupack and other areas of the Poconos.
The lake in that ares offers some great sunset views.
The historic village of Promised Land, surrounded by the park, and nearby area have a unique character that draws visitors from three states. The large number of privately leased cabins in the park also seem unique among Pennsylvania state parks.
White baneberry, or Doll’s Eyes, is a distinctive and beautiful, if not slightly creepy looking, plant. This was growing around my cabin.
This is the view from the Fireline Trail at Hickory Run State Park of the Lehigh River and an old bridge support. This view from the rim of the Lehigh Gorge is a fairly accessible half mile walk from a road. It should also provide a nice sunset view.