Pennsylvania is blessed with 121 state parks. Thirty-five parks have beautiful lakes that add to your enjoyment. From kayaking and paddleboarding to swimming and relaxing on the beach, parks with lakes provide additional ways to enjoy nature and the park. Let’s look at some of my favorite parks with lakes in Pennsylvania.
1. Pymatuning State Park
One of the largest state parks in the Keystone State, Pymatuning State Park showcases the largest lake in the state. The Pymatuning Reservoir is a whopping 17,088 acres. Located in the western part of the state, it borders Ohio.
The park offers boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, camping, and more. You can even rent a pontoon boat for the day. It is no wonder the Pymatuning State Park is among the most visited state parks in the commonwealth.
2. Prince Gallitzin State Park
Spanning 1,635 acres, Glendale Lake is the highlight of Prince Gallitzin State Park. Located in Patton, Pennsylvania, the park has stunning views and up to 26 miles of shoreline.
Fishing, boating, and swimming are favorites in the park. It also offers hiking, wildlife watching, and more.
3. Maurice K. Goddard State Park
Known for the beautiful 12-mile biking trail that surrounds the 1,680 acre Lake Wilhelm, the Maurice K Goddard State Park attracts anglers and boaters.
Lake Wilhelm, abundant wetlands, mature forests, and old fields provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife, especially waterfowl. You just might see an eagle soaring overhead during your visit.
4. Codorus State Park
Located in York County close to the city of Lancaster, Codorus State Park covers 3,500-acres, and almost half of the park territory is Lake Marburg. The massive lake has an attractive shoreline and is a stopping point for migrating birds.
Visitors can enjoy sailing, motorboating, paddling, and swimming in the calm waters. A unique feature of Lake Marburg is that it offers scuba diving on the eastern side of the lake.
Camping and picnicking are available, and the park also has a swimming pool.
5. Shawnee State Park
This is one of my favorites because even though it is a good hike, you can walk around the entire lake and enjoy the view from every possible angle. Mature travelers will especially enjoy the flat hiking trail.
The 4,000-acre Shawnee State Park is located in Bedford County. Visitors enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming in the lake. There are paddle boats, rowboats, and canoes available to rent. Picnic areas are available, and they have an excellent sand beach for relaxing by the water.
Camping is available in this well-maintained park, and there are lodges around the edge of the water available to rent so you can enjoy the rustic setting.
6. Parker Dam State Park
Located in northwestern Pennsylvania, Parker Dam State Park is home to Parker Lake. The lake and surrounding Moshannon State Forest are perfect for a wilderness-oriented vacation with opportunities for seeking out local elk species, hiking, and mountain biking.
Camping and cabin facilities are available.
7. Cowans Gap State Park
You will find this beautiful 1,085-acre park in Fulton County. When camping at Cowans Gap, you will enjoy many hiking trails and the 42-acre lake.
Cowans Gap State Park has a beach area, paddle boats, and other non-motorized boats available for rent.
The Buchanan State Forest surrounds the park, so there are many other recreational options available.
Cowans Gap State Park has a large campground area and rustic cabins for rent.
8. Lyman Run State Park
A rural park, Lyman Run State Park has 85 miles of hiking and backpacking trails. The 45-acre lake has a sandy beach area. Swimming, fishing, and boating are the water activities most visitors enjoy. Campsites are available.
Located between Coudersport and Galeton.
9. Lake Nockamixon State Park
Lake Nockamixon is an immense lake in the Nockamixon State Park in the southeast corner of the state, and it resides in Bucks County on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
Fishermen and boaters love the 1,450-acre lake. While the lake is beautiful, there is no beach at the park, and guests can swim in the nearby swimming pool.
There are hiking and biking trails and also a disc golf course.
10. Sinnemahoning State Park
Cameron and Potter Counties share this beautiful park which is home to panoramic scenery and outstanding wildlife habitat. The Sinnemahoning State Park is long and narrow, and at the southern end, you will find the 145-acre reservoir lake.
The lake offers a variety of fishing and water recreation opportunities. When at the park, watch for bald eagles flying overhead and elk to be wandering around. You might also get a glimpse of coyotes and bobcats.
11. Hill Creek State Park
This gem of a park is found near Wellsboro, and the glistening 137-acre lake is the focal point. This lake is perfect for warm-water fishery. There is a 187-foot beach at Hill Creek State Park. Visitors will enjoy the modern bathhouse. Food is available, and there are boat rentals.
12. Hickory Run State Park
Two lakes can be found in Hickory Run State Park. Hickory Run Lake is near the Boulder Field and road. The other lake, Sand Spring Lake, is larger and allows for swimming in the day-use area.
Waterfalls are found throughout this Carbon County park in the Pocono Mountains.
At Hickory Run State Park, you can also enjoy more than 40 miles of hiking trails and miles of trout streams. Don’t forget to visit the National Natural Landmark located within the state park; the Boulder Field is a striking site with boulders strewn about the area.
13. Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park, located in Gardners, PA, is another park with two lakes. Twice the fun with sandy beaches at both Laurel and Fuller Lakes to enjoy, and each is a short bike ride away from the other.
History lovers will enjoy a visit to the nearby Ironmaster’s Mansion, which is open for tours. The Appalachian Trail (a rail trail ) is available as a dedicated bike path from the park.
14. Bald Eagle State Park
The Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir is a gorgeous lake in the Bald Eagle State Park.
The park is located in the northern part of central Pennsylvania and is a lovely combination of fields, forests, wetlands, and the lake.
Camping, fishing, swimming, and boating are available. The park has educational programs, guided walks, and nature lectures.
15. Presque Isle State Park
One of the most beautiful state parks, with long sandy beaches and small waves lapping at the shore, you will almost feel like you are at the ocean. Instead, you will be swimming in one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie.
Presque Isle State Park has various recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, bicycling and in-line skating. You can even try your luck at surfing on the small waves.
The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is located nearby.
This popular summer destination follows different rules than most state parks, and swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty.
Presque Isle State Park is located near Erie.
16. Promised Land State Park
The newest Pennsylvania State Park, Promised Land State Park, is located in the Poconos and features two dazzling lakes for visitors to enjoy.
The park is surrounded by forests providing spectacular fall foliage and many enticing hiking trails.
There is a campground and rustic cabins available to rent, picnic areas, a beach area, a refreshment stand, and a wildlife observation station.
The Masker Museum at Promised Land State Park is located within the state park and features interactive stories, displays, and artifacts.
17. Beltzville State Park
Calm, clear waters of the 949-acre Beltzville Lake in the Pocono Mountains near Lehighton are the focal point of the Beltzville State Park. Fishermen and boaters enjoy the lake, and it is a stop for migrating waterfowl.
While the park is full of luscious greenery, the lake shores are sandy and great for swimmers and sunbathers.
While you are visiting, check out the small waterfalls and the covered wooden pedestrian bridge.
Some General State Park Lake Swimming Tips
- Stay within the buoy line on designated park beaches.
- Most parks are open from dawn to dusk. (Check websites to verify times)
- Lake swimming is usually from Memorial Day till after Labor Day
- Most parks have an open swim policy with no lifeguards on duty.
- Most beaches in PA state parks are smoke-free.
- Shower before and after swimming
- Unless otherwise specified, swimmers are permitted to use soft water toys like inner tubes, noodles, and air mattresses.
- Pets are prohibited in swimming areas.
- Try to avoid swallowing water while swimming.
If you desire accommodation to participate in various park activities due to a disability, contact the park you plan to visit in advance.
Learn more about Pennsylvania parks and fall festivals: