Did you know that Pennsylvania is home to over 120 state parks, each of which provide visitors with spectacular places of natural beauty to explore?
Featuring beautiful landscapes of jagged mountains, raging waterfalls, dense woodland, flowing rivers and glistening lakes, they are a pleasing reminder of how beautiful the world remains in places.
From Lancaster PA there are a number of wonderful state parks that all reside within straightforward driving distance.
Giving you the opportunity to indulge in a range of activities like swimming, hiking, biking, boating and camping, they are great places to go for a day trip, weekend or a longer stay.
Map of State Parks Near Lancaster PA
Here is a map of the Pennsylvania state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Lancaster
Outlined below is an overview of five excellent state parks near Lancaster you should really try and visit. All of them are located within a three-hour drive of the city.
1. Trough Creek State Park
Location: 16362 Little Valley Rd, James Creek, PA 16657
The 541-acre Trough Creek State Park is a stunning scenic gorge. It was formed by the Great Trough Creek, as it cut through Terrace Mountain, before emptying into Raystown Lake.
Located about a 2 hour and 20 minute drive from Lancaster, its possible to explore most of the parks gems in one day. However to really appreciate them you could look to stay a night or two.
The views of the lake here are stunning, whilst a number of rough hiking trails lead you to major highlights like the magnificent Rainbow Falls and the eye-raising balanced rock.
The lake provides excellent opportunities for fishing, swimming and a range of water based activities like kayaking and paddle boarding.
Between mid-April and mid-December the campground is open. Offering 29 sites for any size camper, all of which have electricity, as well as a historic, two storey stone home which is available for rental all year round.
2. Hickory Run State Park
Location: 3613 PA-534, White Haven, PA 18661
Just under a 2 hour drive from Lancaster lies Hickory Run State Park.
Located in the western foothills of the imposing Pocono Mountains, around Carbon County, this 15,990 acre park is one of the largest parks in Pennsylvania.
It is also considered to be one of the most beautiful too, housing two shimmering lakes, three state park natural areas, endless miles of trout streams and the magnificent Boulder Field. A beguiling 16 acre landscape of strewn boulders which is now a National Natural Landmark.
There are over 40 miles of hiking trails in this park as well as a very good swimming beach. The lakes provide good fishing and kayaking opportunities while kids can enjoy a game of disc golf or play in the onsite playground.
Should you want to stay for a night or two, there is a large camping area for tents and trailers here. The campsites are a mix of electric, non-electric, full-hookup, pet-friendly and walk-to.
The restrooms here are modern and feature warm showers. While there is also a camp store that sells general camping supplies.
3. Lehigh Gorge State Park
Location: S Lehigh Gorge Dr, Weatherly, PA 18255
As it is just shy of a 2 hour drive from Lancaster, the Lehigh Gorge State Park is an excellent day trip option.
There are no camping facilities here, but this impressive 6,107 acres state park does offer plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking and biking, kayaking and photography.
Featuring a landscape that accommodates a deep, steep-walled gorge that has been carved by the river, as well as dense woodland, lush vegetation, rocky outcrops and spectacular waterfalls the park is a fabulous place to explore.
Following the Lehigh River all the way from Jim Thorpe in the south, to Francis E. Walter Dam in the north, the park even has over 20 miles of abandoned railroad for you to check out.
While for those who want to cast a line for trout, the northern section of the river is very well stocked.
4. French Creek State Park
Location: 843 Park Rd, Elverson, PA 19520
If these parks involve too much of a drive for you then the French Creek State Park might suit you better.
Located within the imposing Hopewell Big Woods, which is the largest contiguous forest in southeastern Pennsylvania, the park is only a 50 minute drive from Lancaster.
Boasting two lakes, and over 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, the 7,916-acre park straddles the Schuylkill Highlands.
The park is notable for its leafy forests, sparkling lakes and lush wetlands which make it a great place to hike, camp, fish and bike.
It’s also a great area to observe flora and fauna as the terrain is home to a host of plants and animals, especially birdlife, that are rare in this southeastern region.
The camping facilities are good here, with over 200 wooded and modern sites available, of which 60 have electric hookups and 16 are full service with sewer. There are also shower and flush toilet facilities here too.
5. Worlds End State Park
Location: 82 Cabin Bridge Rd, Forksville, PA 18616
Even though its name suggests you will have to drive further, the Worlds End State Park is only a 2 hour and 40 minute drive from Lancaster.
A 780-acre Pennsylvania state park which is almost entirely surrounded by Loyalsock State Forest, the landscape is a hikers dream, with plenty of miles of trails to explore.
Contained within an ‘S’ shaped valley, some of the highlights in the park include stunning waterfalls, a plethora of incredibly beautiful vistas and the excellent fishing opportunities at Loyalsock Creek. There are also two historic covered bridges, which make for fantastic photo opportunities as well.
The park has very good facilities for trailer and tent camping, as the modern sites are equipped with both electric and non-electric sites, as well as walk-to and pet-friendly ones too.
It also accommodates modern restrooms with warm showers. While there is an amphitheater to relax in and a playground for kids to enjoy too.