“No, I mean a real park.”
During a recent conversation about the outdoors I shared some places to camp right here in Pennsylvania. As a resident of Pennsylvania, it’s many state parks and forests make up my back yard. Within an hours drive in any direction I am able to explore, hike, and camp. So when the words “no, I mean a real park” vibrated through my ears it caused a little tension and internally I became defensive.
Without going into the full context of the conversation, the individual was referring to our National Parks as real parks. Thereby dumbing down state parks or anything besides a national park.
Personally I love our national parks, I support the NPS (National Park Service), and my bucket list of national parks to visit and explore continues to grow. But sometimes I think our national parks get so much attention we tend to forget what’s in our backyards and the beauty it has to offer.
I’m passionate about the many areas my home state has to offer for hiking, backpacking and camping. I’ve put together a team of local adventurers to help me communicate what our home state has to offer the outdoor community. You can find out more about #ICE2017 here.
In the meantime here are some facts about Pennsylvania state parks and forests. I hope it will inspire you to get outside, connect with others, and experience something new.
FACTS: Pennsylvania State Parks & Forests
From one park in 1893, to 121 parks in 2015, the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks has blossomed into one of the largest state park systems.
Pennsylvania state parks offer millions of visitors each year: over 7,000 family campsites, 286 cabins, nearly 30,000 picnic tables, 56 major recreational lakes, 10 marinas, 61 beaches for swimming, 17 swimming pools, over 1,000 miles of trails and much, much more.
The parks also support an extensive environmental education program to make the citizens of the Commonwealth more aware of the world around them.
Pennsylvania State Parks manages 200,000 acres for hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, wildlife watching, and so much more. Pennsylvania State Parks do not charge an entrance fee.
With nearly 2.5 million acres of state parks and forests in Pennsylvania, you will never run out of adventure. Breathtaking overlooks, natural wonders, exhilarating recreation. In addition to producing some of the most valuable timber in the world, Pennsylvania’s 2.1 million acres of state forests provide clean water, recreational opportunities, habitat for wildlife, and places to enjoy the tranquility of nature.
(above information can be found here.)
Parks and Forests Must-Dos
- Count the 22 waterfalls along the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park in Upstate PA
- Watch the sun set over the endless Lake Erie horizon on the beaches of Presque Isle State Park
- Enjoy the breathtaking fall foliage of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon near Williamsport
- Sleep under the darkest sky in Pennsylvania at Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport
- Hike through the only protected prairie in the state at Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock to spot the rare blazing star wildflower
- Get close to wild elk that roam free in Elk State Forest and around the Elk Country Visitor Center near Benezette
- Float your canoe between the cliffs of the Delaware River Water Gap in the Pocono Mountains
- Challenge the whitewater on Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands
- Fly fish during the famed “hatches” on world-famous Penns Creek, flowing through the heart of Bald Eagle State Forest near Bellefonte
- Stroll through a 300-year-old white pine stand at Cook Forest State Park in Cooksburg
- Paddle aside an egret nesting island on the lower section of the Susquehanna Water Trail near Harrisburg
- Peer down to the valley floor through a glass observation area on the Kinzua Bridge State ParkSky Walk in McKean County
- Scamper across Hickory Run State Park’s boulder field in the Pocono Mountains
- Climb the fire tower at the highest point in Pennsylvania, Mt. Davis, in Forbes State Forest in the Laurel Highlands
- Step back in time at the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center at Parker Dam State Park near Clearfield