5 Pristine Pennsylvania State Parks 124

Autumn waterfalls in park with colorful foliage. at Ricketts Glen State Park

The state of Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful areas in the whole country. This state is home to cities like Philadephia and Pittsburgh, and it also has some amazing natural geography, including a large section of the Appalachian Mountains.

You could spend years exploring all that Pennsylvania has to offer. However, I’m sure you don’t have years to explore. In that case, you should consider hitting some of the state parks. Pennsylvania’s state parks offer world-class scenic views, excellent hiking trails and plenty of activities. Here are five parks I recommend.

1. Ricketts Glen State Park

Autumn waterfalls in park with colorful foliage. at Ricketts Glen State Park
Image by rabbit75_ist (Getty)

You’ll have trouble finding more picturesque waterfalls than the ones found in Ricketts Glen State Park. Comprised of over 13,000 acres, this state park is home to the Falls Trail System. The trail system goes right along various waterfalls all of which are free-flowing and wild.

In addition to the amazing waterfalls in the park, you can also spend time swimming in or boating on Lake Jean. There’s also fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. Additionally, in the winter months, you can snowmobile, cross country ski, or go snowshoeing. Camping is available, but the campsites are not hookup sites and offer minimal amenities.

2. Ohiopyle State Park

An autumn landscape of a naturally formed water slide in Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania. Fallen leaves are scattered across the rocks, the stream rushes through the middle of the image.
Image by JZHunt (Getty)

Located on the southern side of the state, the Ohiopyle State Park offers over 20,000 acres of land to explore, and it’s only about an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh. This means you should probably hit both on your trip to the area. At the heart of the state park is the Youghiogheny River Gorge. It helps give this park not only a beautiful feature but a source of some of the best white water boating in the entire area.

Additional activities in the park include hiking, picnicking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding. When the weather turns cold, you can cross country ski, snowmobile, sled, and snowshoe. The park is an outdoor lovers dream, and you can find something wonderful to do there no matter the time of year. Camping is allowed at the park, and some campsites offer electric hookups, though many are primitive sites.

3. Presque Isle State Park

Presque Isle State Park
Image by zrfphoto (Getty)

Looking for that beach life, but want to visit Pennsylvania? That’s where the Presque Isle State Park comes into play. With idyllic beaches this state park is something you probably won’t expect from Pennsylvania. The sandy peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie offers over 3,000 acres of land to explore.

You can hike, swim, boat, fish, picnic, hunt, and bike around the state park to see various areas. In the winter many visitors try their hand at cross-country skiing or ice skating. If you’re coming from the west, you should hit up Cleveland, Ohio, on your way to the state park. The city is only about an hour and a half away and offers plenty to do and see. You can easily camp at Lampe Campground or Sara’s Campground, both of which are nearby.

4. Little Buffalo State Park

Little Buffalo State Park, Pennsylvania
Image by bilbowden (Getty)

Home to the Little Buffalo Creek and Holman Lake, Little Buffalo State Park is a great place for families to come and enjoy themselves. There are over 900 acres to explore. The park has a pool, hiking trails, covered bridges, and visitor centers that can help you get the most out of your experience.

There are also all kinds of activities to do at the park, including hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, wildlife watching, picnicking, hunting and more. As with many of the other parks on this list, Little Buffalo State Park is also active during the winter months offering a great location for snowshoeing, ice skating, and cross country skiing. You can camp right in the park and some of them are full-hookup sites while others only offer electric hookup.

5. Colton Point State Park

Pine Creek Gorge
Image by zrfphoto (Getty)

Want to see some amazing views of the Appalachian Mountains? If so, Colton Point State Park is for you. This 368-acre state park might be small in comparison with some of the other parks on this list, but it’s a park that packs a big punch. The park is home to the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. It offers breathtaking views and some of the best hiking trails in the region.

Colton Point State Park offers plenty of activities for you and your family to take part in, including hiking, picnicking, wildlife watching, fishing, and hunting. In the winter months, you can find snowmobiling is fairly common. The campsites are pretty basic and are offered on a first come first serve basis.


Do you have any state parks that you think should be added? Leave a comment below.

5 Pristine Pennsylvania State Parks

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