When it comes to state parks in Pennsylvania, few can match Parker Dam State Park for its charm, beauty and tranquility.
Spread across 968-acres it boasts a stunning landscape of verdant fields, rolling hillsides, thick woodlands and the gorgeous, picturesque Parker Lake.
All of which provide a wonderful outdoor playground to enjoy a range of pursuits including hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking, hunting, and when the snow comes, winter activities too.
Situated in Penfield within 2 to 4 hour drives of Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Philadelphia, the park is a popular destination for those who want to escape the frenzy of city life for a while.
Its modern sizable, campground, which features over 100 RV and trailer sites, provides the perfect base in which to do just that.
When they come to the park, visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities that really showcase its outstanding scenic beauty.
Here are some of the things you can do whilst you are there.
Swimming and boating at Parker Dam State Park
During the summer you will be able to swim in the area near the beautiful sand beach.
While you will swim at your own risk as the area is not lifeguarded, please note the maximum depth of the water around the buoy line is five feet.
Elsewhere on the lake, you will also be able to enjoy a wide selection of boating related activities like canoeing, kayaking, SUP and both row and electric motor boating.
If you didn’t bring a vessel with you, one can be rented from the park’s concession store.
Fishing at Parker Dam State Park
Fishing is a popular activity at the park and takes place within either the 20-acre Parker Lake, or several streams that run through it.
Trout is well stocked throughout the spring, fall, and winter. While the likes of largemouth bass, bluegill and brown bullhead catfish can also be regularly caught.
During the winter, ice fishing for trout is also well practiced.
Hiking at Parker Dam State Park
The park is best explored through the 13 miles of trails that run throughout it.
Showcasing a terrific landscape of rolling hills, lush fields, dense woodlands and the picturesque lake, many of them will lead you on to further hiking opportunities at the adjacent Moshannon State Forest.
Here are some of the best trails at Parker Dam State Park:
- trail 1 – Log Slide Trail. Length: 0.3 mile Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 2 – Laurel Run Trail. Length: 1.6 miles Degree of Difficulty: moderate
- trail 3 – Quehanna Trail. Length: 73 miles Degree of Difficulty: challenging
Biking at Parker Dam State Park
Three other trails – the Beaver Dam Trail, Skunk Trail and CCC Trail – as well as the Fairview Road, are designated as being multi-use trails that are suitable for mountain biking.
These will lead you on to further opportunities at the Moshannon State Forest.
Picnicking at Parker Dam State Park
The park’s beautiful scenery renders it a charming place to enjoy a picnic.
You can do this at any of the small picnic tables that are situated around the woods near the campground, as well as in one of the pavilions, if you are in a larger group.
Charcoal grills are located near the tables, as is drinking water and restrooms.
The seven picnic pavilions can each accommodate up to 75 people. Five of them have electricity, and all can be reserved ahead of time.
If they remain unreserved, you can use them on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hunting at Parker Dam State Park
The park boasts woodlands that are game-rich, which makes hunting a popular activity during the season.
Set within 807 acres of the park, some of the game species you can snare include bear, deer, rabbit grouse, turkey and squirrel.
You will need a valid state licence in order to hunt, but if you do have one, you will also be able to head over for further opportunities at the surrounding Moshannon State Forest.
Winter Recreation at Parker Dam State Park
Winter is a terrific time to visit the park, especially when it is covered with snow, as there are a fantastic range of cold-weather activities you can partake in.
This includes cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing, which takes place along the aptly named 1.5-mile snow trail, as well as on the Sounders, CCC, Skunk and Beaver Dam trails.
The park also has a sledding hill and run that is regularly enjoyed by families. While over at the swimming beach, when the ice is thick enough you will be able to ice-skate within a certain area.
Nature & Wildlife
The park, and the adjacent Moshannon State Forest is home to a fascinating and very diverse selection of wildlife.
Throughout their time there, visitors can spot the likes of white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, muskrat and even black bears.
In terms of birdlife, you should be able to see cerulean and chestnut-sided warblers, wild turkeys and ruffed grouse as well.
Pets at Parker Dam State Park
Pets are welcome at the park, though dogs must remain on a leash at all times and be cleaned up after.
There are some other restrictions, which you can find out about by contacting the park’s main office.
Camping at Parker Dam State Park
For those wishing to stay at the park for a few days there are a range of overnight accommodation options available to you.
These include over 100 sites for RVs that come with electric hookups, including some that are full hookups with electricity, water and sewer, as well as tent sites too.
Open from the mid-April to mid-December, most of these RV and tent sites are located on the eastern section of the lake and range from shaded sites to open grassy sites.
You will also find a seasonal camp store that offers supplies and camping equipment, as well as a dump station, flush toilets and warm showers.
In addition to these sites, there are also 16 rustic cabins available that can sleep between four or eight people.
These cabins are heated by both a fireplace and gas and also have a modern bathroom with cooking facilities.
For those visiting the park in larger groups, there are larger organized group tenting options available too.
Parker Dam State Park
28 Fairview Rd
Penfield, PA 15849
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Parker Dam State Park:
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