Pennsylvania – Some state parks and forests throughout Pennsylvania have had to turn away visitors after an extraordinary number of people have decided to turn to the outdoors for some socially distanced and safe adventures.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has posted alerts for some of the state parks, though it seems as though most of those alerts are for parks closer to big cities like the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Erie regions.
Although state parks near us are also experiencing higher than normal traffic, no alerts have been issued for them yet.
Remember, even in the outdoors, it’s important to stay away from other people, which can be difficult especially places like trails and parking lots that may get crowded.
You don’t need to wear a mask if you are outdoors and at least 6 feet away from other people, but you’ll still want to bring one with you in case you need to go indoors somewhere or if you come within 6 feet of others, like passing someone on a trail.
If a park looks too busy, there are usually plenty of other places nearby that might be less crowded. Avoid going at peak times, and if you’re heading somewhere specific, maybe make a list of other options that you’d like to visit.
A number of state parks and forest recreation areas are seeing significant crowding during the weekends and when the weather is warm.
The extraordinary number of people is causing these places to turn away visitors. Overflow parking also may be closed to help ensure proper social distancing.
Visitors planning to go to these areas are encouraged to find other less crowded locations for recreation.
State Parks Experiencing Overcrowding
State parks that are reaching capacity, and experiencing unsafe overcrowding and/or turning away visitors include:
- Beltzville — most overcrowding, visitors should consider Tuscarora, Tobyhanna, and Gouldsboro State Parks for swimming and picnicking alternatives
- Marsh Creek
- Presque Isle
- Ricketts Glen
- Washington Crossing
State Forest Areas Experiencing Overcrowding
State forests areas that are reaching capacity and turning away visitors include:
- Seven Tubs Recreation Area in Pinchot State Forest — most overcrowding, visitors should consider:
- Pinchot Trail — Pine Hill Vista (PDF) — From the primary Pinchot Trailhead along Bear Lake Road, a 4-mile loop or 1-mile out-out-and-back hike can be made to the Pine Hill Observation Deck overlooking the Pocono Plateau.
- Black Diamond TrailOpens In A New Window — This long-distance rail trail can be accessed on PA437 and provides an opportunity for a leisurely walk or scenic bike ride. Visitors will pass several wetlands and scrub oak habitats.
- Rock Run in Loyalsock State Forest — visitors should consider:
- Cherry Ridge Trail — Located a few miles from the Rock Run Valley, this 5.7 blue-blazed trail provides an easy walk over rolling terrain. Visitors will see typical northern hardwood forests and cross several small streams. This trail can also connect to the Old Loggers Path and other unmarked trails for the adventurous hiker to explore. The trailhead is located at the intersection of Krimm Road and Ellenton Ridge Road.
- Hawkeye Ski Trail — This 7.2 mile shared-use trail covers a variety of terrain and even brings forest visitors into the headwaters of the beloved Rock Run. A short jaunt from the intersection with Sharp Shinned Trail will allow hikers an opportunity to wade in its ever-cool waters. The trailhead is along the paved Ellenton Mountain Road near the “Devil’s Elbow.”
- Old Loggers Path (PDF) — A multitude of short hikes and loops can be made throughout the 27-mile Old Loggers Path circuit. A small parking area along Yellow Dog Road provides access to a quick out-and-back hike to a vista overlooking the Rock Run Valley. A longer loop can be made using the historic Ellenton Grade.
Find Alternate Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
- Explore state parks — Pennsylvania has 121 state parks to explore
- Explore state forests — Pennsylvania has 2.2 million acres of forestland to explore
- Find local parks — Pennsylvania has more than 6,100 local parks for outdoor recreation
- Explore PA trails — Pennsylvania has more than 12,000 miles of trails
- Water trails — Pennsylvania has more than 2,300 miles of water trails
- Featured opportunities — Visit Pennsylvania helps you find outdoor recreation opportunities in the state