Located just a 20 minute drive from Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Islands State Park is the perfect place to head to if you want to escape the pace and pressures of big city life.
At just 50-acres in size, it is one of the smallest public recreational spaces in the Pennsylvania state parks system. However, as it can only be accessed by boat, it is also one of the most remote, peaceful and tranquil places you can visit too.
Taking the form of two alluvial islands, as well as seven shoals that lay within the Allegheny River, the park is wild, covered in thick vegetation and largely undeveloped. Which is a significant part of its overall charm and appeal.
Providing an important habitat for several species of wildlife, the park is an excellent area to explore by boat. Fishing and hunting are also popular activities too, while there are some paths you can hike along as well.
Unfortunately the park offers nothing in the way of camping opportunities, other than rustic organized group tenting. But with several other state park campgrounds within a 30 mile radius of Allegheny, there are plenty of suitable overnight accommodation options nearby, for those travelling in an RV or trailer.
Allegheny Islands State Park is open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset.
If you want to pay it a visit, here are some of the main activities you can do when you are there.
Boating at Allegheny Islands State Park
As previously mentioned, boating is the only way you can reach the Allegheny Islands State Park. With access being gained via a beach landing only.
The park is nestled along the Three Rivers Water Trail, which is a lush and picturesque, recreational waterway that was developed by a group called the Friends of the Riverfront.
The overall trail promotes various access points, as well as day use facilities and camping sites for boaters to enjoy.
To explore the waterway you will need to have a valid licence from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, as well as adhere to its laws and regulations.
Whilst at Allegheny, please note, there are no docks or launches to utilize.
Fishing at Allegheny Islands State Park
Given its hard-to-access location, fishing is a popular activity at the park.
Providing year-round opportunities to cast a line in picturesque surroundings, anglers from all over Pennsylvania come here to fish in its clear waters.
Due to the flowing currents, which run below the dam, and lock, at the eastern end of the lower island, you will find plenty of game fish and forage here.
Some of the species you can catch include rock bass, walleye, sauger, freshwater drum and small-mouthed bass.
Like with boating, if you want to fish at the park, you will need to follow the laws and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, as well as have a valid licence too.
Hiking at Allegheny Islands State Park
Sadly there are no developed hiking trails at Allegheny Islands State Park.
However, you will find several footpaths that you can explore whilst you are there.
Nature & Wildlife
For those who enjoy nature and wildlife the park provides plenty of opportunity to observe both in abundance.
Within the park, several species of plants can be found including the likes of aster, lily of the valley, cottonwood, silky dogwood, sycamore, maple, willow, ironweed, tall flower and cardinal flower.
Unfortunately, invasive plants like Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard and mile-a-minute are also prevalent on the island.
These habitats provide a secure home for a wide range of fauna including great blue heron, beaver, mallard, wood duck, raccoon, northern flicker, belted kingfisher and even the occasional deer.
In addition, you should also spot plenty of different species of swallowtail butterflies too.
Hunting at Allegheny Islands State Park
Throughout the year, during the established seasons for hunting, the park is open for hunting, trapping and the training of dogs.
The common game species you can hunt at Allegheny is waterfowl.
If you intend to train your dog, please note, this is only permitted between the day after Labor Day and the 31st March 31st, in specifically designated hunting areas only.
To hunt here, as with any state park in Pennsylvania, you will need to have a relevant state licence. You will also need to abide by the rules, regulations and laws of The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Pets at Allegheny Islands State Park
If you are wanting to bring your dog to the park it is worth contacting its main office to ascertain whether this is something you could feasibly do or not.
Camping at Allegheny Islands State Park
Unfortunately the only camping allowed at Allegheny Islands State Park is group tenting for qualified adult and youth groups, such as Venture Outdoors and the Boy Scouts.
In order for them to camp on the islands they need to receive written permission from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
If you intend to visit the park as part of a group like this, please be aware there are no facilities there at all. Also be sure to ‘follow Leave No Trace Principles’.
For those with RVs and trailers, or who are looking for tent campsites, there are a number of other state park campgrounds you can base yourself at within a 30 mile drive.
This includes the likes of Hillman State Park in Washington County, Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County and Point State Park in Allegheny County.
Allegheny Islands State Park
Cheswick, PA 15024
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Allegheny Islands State Park: