If you enjoy water based outdoor recreational activities then Elk State Park is the perfect place for you to head too.
Situated just over 2 hours from Buffalo and Erie, this attractive 3,192-acre Pennsylvania state park provides a lovely alternative to Lake Erie.
Centered around the 1,160-acre East Branch Clarion River Lake, a picturesque man-made waterway, the park is a haven for those who enjoy motorboating, kayaking, canoeing and SUP.
Fishing is a popular activity here too, with the several coldwater species of trout, as well as other breeds of fish stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
There is no camping available in the park, so many people come here on day trips. However, if you did want to enjoy this public recreational space over the course of a few days, there is plenty of camping accommodation available at nearby Allegheny National Forest and several state parks in the surrounding area.
Visitors to the park are able to enjoy peaceful surroundings and beautiful scenery. They can also take part in a range of outdoor recreational pursuits too.
This includes the following activities.
Boating at Elk State Park
With the spectacular 1,160-acre East Branch Clarion River Lake as their playground, the opportunity to enjoy a range of boating opportunities at the park draws visitors from all over Pennsylvania.
With no restriction on horsepower motors, the lake is regularly full of motorboats of varying shapes and sizes, many of them often towing waterskiers.
It is also a haven for those who enjoy kayaking, canoeing, SUP and rowboating too.
To help you get in the water, the lake has one boat launch situated on Instanter Drive. By the dam you will also find a boat launch, as provided by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
During the winter, iceboating is a popular activity that many people enjoy. Just be mindful to wrap up very warmly, and adhere to the proper safety regulations.
Swimming at Elk State Park
Unfortunately, swimming is not permitted at the park.
However, if you want to go for a dip during the warmer months of the year, there is a swimming pool you can use at Bendigo State Park.
This is located about 13 miles away from Elk State Park, on PA 1004.
Fishing at Elk State Park
Fishing is a very popular activity in the park as it provides anglers with plenty of opportunity to catch varied species of coldwater fish in very relaxed and tranquil surroundings.
This includes the likes of brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout, as well as walleye, smallmouth bass and muskellunge. All of which are stocked within the lake, by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
In addition, Middle Fork, Straight, and Crooked creeks are all stocked streams, particularly for native brook trout, as are Five Mile and Seven Mile.
To fish at the park you will need a valid fishing licence, and, of course, must abide by the laws and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission too.
During the winter, ice fishing takes place at the park as well. However, if you would like this you would have to monitor ice levels yourself, as they are not measured.
In general, 4 solid inches of ice should be ok to fish on. Though you might want to find somewhere with closer to 5-6 inches, just to be on the safer side.
Hiking at Elk State Park
If you are into hiking, Elk State Park unfortunately doesn’t have many opportunities to stretch your legs.
In fact the only trail at the park is the easy Maple Trail, which is an out-and-back walkway that only extends for half a mile.
That said, this family-friendly trail is worth tackling for the fantastic panoramic views of the East Branch Lake and the east Branch Dam it showcases after walking up a slight slope. If you traverse it all the way to its end, you will get to see idyllic views of Swamp Creek Bay as well.
Trailhead amenities here include several benches and modern restrooms.
Picnic tables at Elk State Park
The park offers pleasant opportunities for picnicking, with 12 tables being available at the Instanter Drive Boat Launch.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has a lovely picnic area, as well as a playground situated near its picturesque dam.
Hunting at Elk State Park
When the established seasons for hunting are on, some 3,151 acres of Elk State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs.
During this time you will be able to catch the likes of black bear, deer, squirrels and turkey.
Like in most other state parks in Pennsylvania, the hunting of groundhogs (aka woodchucks) is strictly prohibited.
Furthermore, dog training is only allowed to happen, within these designated hunting areas, between the period of the day after Labor Day and the 31st March.
At all times the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the DCNR must be adhered to. This includes having a valid licence in which to hunt.
Pets at Elk State Park
Pets are permitted in the park, so you can bring your dog with you.
However once there, they are only allowed within designated areas, and under certain conditions.
To clarify what these are, you might want to contact the park’s main office.
Camping at Elk State Park
Unfortunately there are no camping options at Elk State Park itself.
However, within 30 miles of the park you will find several campgrounds at various other state parks.
This includes the likes of Bendigo State Park in Elk County, Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County, Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County and Sinnemahoning State Park – which spans both Cameron and Potter Counties.
Between them, these campgrounds offer plenty of accommodation options for RVs, trailers and tents, which range from full hookups, to those which are basic.
They also have a selection of cabins, yurts, lodges and organized group tent camping that you can stay at if you wish.
Elk State Park
Wilcox, PA 15870