Summer is coming, and the price of fuel is the lowest it’s been in years. If you’re itching for something more than the endless bustle of Philadelphia or the fast-paced hustle of Pittsburgh, your best choice is to head out and enjoy one of Pennsylvania’s immaculately beautiful state parks. Whether you love breathtaking sights, encountering an abundance of local wildlife, or just getting away from it all in the great outdoors, these Pennsylvania state parks offer an unparalleled experience for hikers of all skill levels.
1. Sinnemahoning State Park
The 5 miles of trails at Sinnemahoning State Park offer unique access to Northeastern wildlife. Nestled in between two of Pennsylvania’s enormous state forests, you have quite a good chance to see some of the rare North American fauna during your hike along one of Sinnemahoning’s trails. Portions of the trail include old-growth forests, which have had little human interference, and therefore host an abundance of wildlife. The main trail is perfect for easy-going hikers, and the park offers a more difficult trail for those yearning for a more adventurous experience.
2. Leonard Harrison State Park
The hiking trails at Leonard Harrison State Park include gorgeous climbs to scenic vistas and thrilling descents to Pine Creek below. Throughout the entirety of the hikes you’ll pass amazing vistas offering breathtaking views. The 4.9 miles worth of trails may sound short, but the steep inclines and declines offer a sufficient challenge to novice hikers, and keep experienced hikers on their toes. Because of the vantage point over the sprawling woodland landscape, Leonard Harrison State Park is the home of many birds of prey, such as eagles, hawks, and osprey.
3. Salt Springs State Park
Old growth forests are expanses of wilderness which have remained undisturbed by humankind. These forests often showcase the apex of unique and beautiful ecosystems. Salt Springs State Park is the site of one of Pennsylvania’s ancient forests. Massive hemlock trees reaching up to 500 feet in height sprawl across the area, truly a sight to behold. Along the 12.75 miles of trails, hikers will encounter three incredible waterfalls, and of course, the incredible hemlock forests. The trails at Salt Springs State Park range in difficulty, offering a fun and unique visit for hikers of all skill levels.
4. Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park’s hiking trails may not be as thoroughly mapped out as others, but the park offers a unique sightseeing feature: a field of boulders. The famous Hickory Run State Park boulder field compliments the 44 miles of hiking trails available to park visitors, which cover a wide range of difficulties. As if the boulder field wasn’t enough, the park trails also host a marvelous waterfall, Hawk Falls, as well as an opportunity to see the rhododendrons in full bloom, come mid-June.You may come just to play around in the one-of-a-kind boulderfield, but you’ll certainly feel the urge to return for more scenic hikes along the vast network of trails.
5. Ohiopyle State Park
If you have a hunger for rocky river gorges, natural water slides, and roaring river rapids, then Ohiopyle State Park is the place for you! Not only do they offer incredible views of the Youghiogheny River Gorge and nature’s very own water slides, but the park is also a popular destination for whitewater boating. With 79 miles of trails, every return visit promises to be a unique one, and if you’re daring enough to brave the water slides, you’ll absolutely love the swimming areas. It’s an incredible thrill for hikers and swimmers alike.
6. Ricketts Glen State Park
Water, water, everywhere! Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations for Pennsylvania residents, as it is home to over 20 waterfalls, the highest of which drops 94 feet. The most popular is of course the waterfall trail, but the other trails offer scenery just as beautiful. The area is abundant in wildlife, and offers opportunities to see rare critters such as black bears, porcupine and river otters. Hiking is the primary attraction at the park, which offers 22 miles worth of trails. Most of the hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park is steep and in the vicinity of moving water, so caution must be taken on these trails. Hikers of all experience levels are welcome and able to enjoy this natural wonder of a park.
7. Worlds End State Park
Worlds End State Park’s scenic vista offers a truly remarkable view. The wide rolling mountains of the loyalsock forest are clearly visible for miles and miles, and the winding gorges of endless forest will take your breath away. The 2 mile uphill climb to the canyon vista becomes immensely satisfying when you reach the scenic masterpiece. The park offers over 40 miles of trails for hikers of any and all skill levels, and endless photo opportunities. Worlds End State Park was named for the steep drops first seen by travelers over a century ago, who described the cliffs as the world’s end. Hikes in the area also host unique rock formations, and, in the spring, the gorgeous bloom of the region’s numerous wildflowers.