Covering some 2,338-acres, Gifford Pinchot State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s most acclaimed public recreational areas.
Located in Lewisberry within easy reach of Wilmington, Philadelphia and Trenton, the park enjoys a stunning landscape that incorporates wooded hillsides and farm fields. Both of which provide nature lovers with a spectacular backdrop in which to enjoy the great outdoors.
Centered around the magnificent Pinchot Lake, the park is a haven for those who enjoy boating and fishing, while hiking is another popular activity here too.
Boasting one of the largest campgrounds in America’s state park system, it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway and digital detox.
This PA state park gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy its spectacular scenery in a number of ways.
Here is an overview of some of the many things you can see when you get there.
Boating at Gifford Pinchot State Park
For those who enjoy boating, Pinchot Lake is a renowned destination to do this, with many regattas taking place here throughout the year.
Overall there are three boat-launch areas which are available 24 hours a day. Campers can launch their own boats off them, if they have the proper permits and registrations.
The lake is excellent for canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, rowboats and electric motor boats. All of which can be rented from the park, if you didn’t bring them yourself.
Swimming at Gifford Pinchot State Park
In peak season, which runs from the end of May to the middle of September, you can swim at the Quaker Race Day-Use Area.
While it is a very scenic beach, it is not lifeguarded. So you will have to swim in it at your own risk.
Fishing at Gifford Pinchot State Park
Anglers from all over the USA come to the park specifically to enjoy fishing.
Pinchot Lake is a fantastic warm-water destination for those who enjoy shore and boat fishing. With many bass fishing competitions taking place throughout the year.
The types of bass you can catch here include striped, smallmouth, largemouth and hybrid. All of which can weight anything from 5 to 12 pounds.
Other fish you can catch include crappie, catfish, walleyes and panfish.
In the winter, ice fishing is a popular activity too, as muskellunge, walleye and crappies can all be caught in abundance.
Trails at Gifford Pinchot State Park
The park has a number of well defined and clearly designated trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
An easy way to distinguish between them is their colors. With yellow blazes advising of hiking-only trails, red blazes indicating trails that are multi-use, and blue blazes advising that the trail is part of the wider 200 mile Mason-Dixon Trail – which incorporates a seven mile section of the park.
Trails in the park range from the easy 0.5 mile Alpine Trail to the difficult 8.5-mile Lakeside Trail.
Birding at Gifford Pinchot State Park
Birders love Gifford Pinchot State Park for its wonderful opportunities to spot a myriad of different species, as the trees in the area provide a good resting spot for them during their annual migration.
The types of birds you can see depend on the season in which you visit the park. However, throughout the year the likes of warblers, thrushes, vireos, woodpecker, bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks can all be seen.
Nature & Wildlife
All year round, the park is home to a diverse range of fauna.
For those who enjoy wildlife watching, you have the opportunity to spot coyotes, squirrels, deer and rabbits, all of which live in abundance.
On a good day, you might even get to see a bobcat, mink or muskrat too. While toads, turtles and a variety of snakes will be visible as well.
Winter activities at Gifford Pinchot State Park
During the colder months of winter, when the snow comes the park provides an extra dimension of recreational fun for the visitor to enjoy.
Ice skating and cross-country skiing are very popular activities at this time.
If you intend to do the former, be sure to wear a life jacket, do not skate alone and try and ensure the ice is at least 6 inches thick.
When cross-country skiing, you will be able to explore the park’s farmlands and rolling hills, which are absolutely beautiful at this time of year.
Pets at Gifford Pinchot State Park
Pets are permitted throughout the park and within designated campsites.
Some restrictions might apply, so it is worth contacting the park’s main office to determine what they are.
Camping at Gifford Pinchot State Park
With some 289 sites available, finding somewhere to stay at Gifford Pinchot State Park should not be an issue.
In fact, it possesses one of the largest state park campgrounds in the whole of the country.
Situated at the lake’s southern end, it is open from the second Friday in April until the last week in October.
All of the sites there have macadam pads which can accommodate everything from a large motor home to small tents. Most come with electric hook ups, while others have full service hookups for water, electricity and sewer.
Amenities there include flush toilets and warm showers.
In addition to these sites, the park also offers ten modern cabins which can be rented throughout the year. These cabins are furnished with two or three bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area, a living area and a toilet and shower.
There are also three camping cottages too that can accommodate five people in bunk beds, as well as three round yurts, one of which is ADA accessible.
For larger groups, there are six organized group tenting sites that can sleep 250 people.
Gifford Pinchot State Park
2200 Rosstown Rd,
Lewisberry, PA 17339
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Gifford Pinchot State Park: