Bald Eagle State Park - Pennsylvania

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide: US-Parks.com

Description

The 5,900-acre Bald Eagle State Park is in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania. The 1,730-acre lake laps the flanks of Bald Eagle Mountain, surrounded by forests, fields and wetlands. With two campgrounds, boating, fishing, swimming, the Nature Inn, and diverse habitats that are excellent for wildlife watching, Bald Eagle State Park is a great destination in the heart of Pennsylvania.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle

This 16-room inn overlooks the lake. The inn focuses on outdoor recreation and stewardship, making maximum use of green building technologies, while serving as a premier interpretive facility for bird watching.

Picnicking

Picnic areas around the lake all have picnic tables, grills and restrooms. Picnic areas open at sunrise and close at sunset. Picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Most boat launches areas have picnic tables, grills and restrooms.

Schencks Grove Picnic Area, on the ridge on the south side of Marina Cove, has two play fields and a volleyball net.

Point Picnic Area, on the point of the peninsula overlooking the beach and marina, has pavilions #3 and #4 and a volleyball net.

The Beach Picnic Area has pavilions #1, #2, #6 and #7.

The Skyline Drive Picnic Area is on a ridge overlooking Frog Pond, the lake and Bald Eagle Mountain. This area has Pavilion #5.

Winter Launch Picnic Area has Pavilion #8, and a fishing pier to accommodate people with disabilities.

Bald Eagle Boat Launch has Pavilion #9.

Swimming

The 1,200-foot long sand and turf beach has a children’s playground, snack bar, changing rooms, public restrooms and parking. The regular hours are 8 a.m. to sunset, Memorial Day to Labor Day, unless otherwise posted. Swim at your own risk. Please follow posted rules for swimming. The swimming area is ADA accessible. Pets are prohibited in the beach area.

A food and refreshment concession is in the beach area and offers hot sandwiches and snacks. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather permitting. Contact the park for additional information.

Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir: The 1,730-acre lake is the focal point for water-based recreation in the park. The nearly eight-mile long lake has 23 miles of shoreline.

Because of its role in flood damage reduction and downstream water quality, the operation of the dam is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Lake levels vary throughout the year. Beginning in November, the USACE begins a five-foot lake draw down to prepare for winter waters. Between mid-February and early March, the water level is lowered an additional 15 feet to maximum flood protection pool. Depending on weather conditions, the reservoir usually reaches the summer recreational pool by mid-May.

Boating

unlimited horsepower motors permitted

The speed limit on the 1,730-acre lake is 45 mph. Boaters must follow the counterclockwise traffic pattern on the lake.

Boats equipped with inboard engines with over-the-transom or straight-stack type exhausts are prohibited.

Motorboats must display a boat registration from any state. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Most boat launches have picnic tables, grills and restrooms.

Hunter Run West Launch, by the Russell P. Letterman campground, allows 24-hour access.

Hunter Run East Launch, off East Launch Road, allows 24-hour access.

Winter Launch, located along the lake north of the beach, provides year-round boating, a fishing pier which can accommodate persons with disabilities, and 24-hour access. This launch is usable at all water levels.

Bald Eagle Boat Launch, in the town of Howard, is lighted and provides 24-hour access.

Lower Greens Run Boat Launch, off PA 150, has a fishing pier provides 24-hour access.

Upper Greens Run Boat Launch, off PA 150, provides 24-hour access.

Marina and Boat Concession

Three hundred and sixty-nine marina dockage slips can be rented on a seasonal basis. Transient slips are rented on a daily basis. Boat and trailer storage is available for the summer and winter seasons. Contact the park office for additional information.

When available, the boating concession, located at the marina, rents boats, sells gasoline and does repairs. The concession is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and weekends during the months of September and October, weather permitting. Contact the park office for additional information. www.boatsandbikesetc.com

Fishing

The 1,730-acre Sayers Reservoir and its 23 miles of shoreline offer excellent warm water fishing. Common species are crappie, yellow perch, tiger muskellunge, channel catfish and largemouth and smallmouth bass. The lake is a panfish enhancement waterway and special regulations apply. An ADA accessible fishing pier is at the Winter Launch in the Main Park Area. Ice fishing is permitted. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Hiking 14.5 miles of trails

A network of hiking trails guides hikers through a variety of habitats that offer scenic views and wildlife watching opportunities. Additional unnamed extension trails lead to recreational facilities like boat launches, the marina, the modern campground and the beach. Some trails wind through areas open to hunting. Hikers should wear fluorescent orange clothing during hunting seasons. Trails are open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

Butterfly Trail: 1.5 miles - easiest hiking

This mowed trail, created for the conservation of butterflies, has opportunities for close encounters with butterflies in their natural setting. The trailhead is west of the beach area near Pavilion #6. The Butterfly Trail loops around Frog Pond and through a mix of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and young trees that are host and nectar plants for butterflies throughout their lifecycle. An interpretive area provides information and examples of butterfly habitat components. In September, migrating monarchs are often seen drinking nectar on the abundant goldenrod. This trail is a popular family hike.

Hunter Run East Trail: 2.3 miles - more difficult hiking

Following the northwest border of the park toward Hunter Run West Boat Launch, Hunter Run East Trail winds up and down beneath a mixed forest and through open shrub areas providing favorite habitat for chickadees, towhees, and catbirds. Hikers will encounter an intermittent mountain stream home to various salamanders and aquatic insects. This trail has a scenic view of Hunter Run Cove. Some wet areas do not have bridges or boardwalks. This trail begins at the PA 150 underpass of West Launch Road.

Hunter Run West Trail: 2.2 miles - more difficult hiking

Hunter Run West Trail weaves around the foothills of the Allegheny Plateau. This mowed pathway slopes through a mix of forested areas and field habitats and guides hikers through natural forest succession. In the summer, songs of common yellowthroats and song sparrows may be heard as you pass through the open, shrub areas and northern pearly-eyes and wood nymphs may be spotted hiding in the shaded areas. Signs of old fencerows along the way are evidence of the area’s farming heritage. This trail begins at the PA 150 underpass of West Launch Road.

Lakeside Trail: 2.9 miles or 4.4 miles - more difficult hiking

This very rocky, flat trail runs along the base of Bald Eagle Mountain. The trail begins at Bald Eagle Boat Launch Access Area. After 1.5 miles to the Primitive Campground, the trail branches into a 2.9-mile loop. With the lake below and mature hardwoods such as oaks, maples and hickories towering above, this trail is a shaded summer hike, providing glimpses of the lake. Look for signs of raccoons, squirrels, and pileated woodpeckers. Signs of the old charcoal hearths where timber was burned in large earth-covered mounds to create charcoal for iron furnaces in the 1800s can also be seen along this rugged trail. Mountain streams are not bridged. The trail crosses beneath the railroad line through tunnels at both ends of its loop. Please use these tunnels while hiking.

Skyline Drive Trail: 2 miles - easiest hiking

This trail begins on Skyline Drive and meanders through a small forested ridge of mixed hardwoods to Warbler Way. Quiet hikers might catch a glimpse of white-tailed deer hiding in the undergrowth. Most of the trail is forested, but portions contain dense shrubbery reminiscent of earlier ecological succession. This area is favorite habitat for eastern chipmunks, great horned owls and black-throated green warblers and other woodland warblers. At each end of the trail it is possible to hike on connector trails to Butterfly Trail, for a longer and more diverse hike.

Swamp Oak Trail: 0.5 mile - easiest hiking

This trail can be accessed from the amphitheater in the Modern Campground or from the top of skyline ridge, which has a sweeping view of Foster J. Sayers Lake. Near the amphitheater by the trail is the largest and possibly oldest tree in the park. This swamp oak is in photos from before the park. The trail also passes a line of old, large oak trees. A portion of the trail follows the old farm road to what was the Day Farm.

Woapalanne Path: 2 miles - easiest hiking

Thisrelatively flat, partially shaded trail is so close to the lake that portions of it flood during high water events! It is a great trail to see waterfowl, eagles and wildlife that likes riparian areas (near water). The trail meanders between a kiosk near Pavilion 6 and the eastern terminus of F.J. Sayers Road. If you look closely you can see old stone wells, tree lines, and other historic remnants from the valley’s past.

Camping:

Russell P. Letterman Campground: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups. This modern camping area features 97 campsites, two yurts, three camping cottages, hot showers, the park amphitheater, a sanitary dump station and is less than one mile from the beach, marina and other park facilities. The campground opens the second Friday of April and closes in mid-December. Each campsite has a paved parking spur, picnic table and fire ring. Electric hookups of 30 amps are available at most sites, and some campsites have 50 amp hookups. Two campsites accommodate people with disabilities.

Primitive Camping Area: vault toilets. This rustic area has 35 walk-in sites for tents and 35 sites reserved for camping vehicles. The tent camping sites are walk-ins and are about 150 feet from the road. Parking spaces for tent campers are along the road. Drinking water is available along the campground road. Restrooms have vault toilets and a sink with running water. A sanitary dump station is available.

Camping Cottages: Three camping cottages sleep five people and have wooden floors, windows, electric heat, porch, picnic table, fire ring and electric lights and outlets. Vehicles are to be parked on the hard surface only, not on the grass. Located in the Russell P. Letterman Campground.

Yurts: Two round, canvas and wood tents on wooden decks sleep 6, have electric heat, a cooking stove, refrigerator, beds and a table and chairs. Located in the center of the Russell P. Letterman Campground, the yurts offer convenient accommodations for weekly rentals. Shorter stays are available during the spring and fall seasons. One yurt can accommodate people with disabilities.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle: Experience the beauty of Bald Eagle State Park in a new addition to the Pennsylvania State Park system—The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle. The 18,500-square-foot, 16-room building overlooks the park’s lake and provides full-service accommodations. This modern inn, unique to the park system, focuses on outdoor recreation and stewardship, making maximum use of green building technologies, while serving as a premier interpretive facility for bird watching. natureinnatbaldeagle.com

Winter Activities

Cross-country Skiing: Some park trails and open areas are suitable for cross-country skiing. About seven miles of ungroomed trails are available with proper snow conditions.

Sledding: About five acres of cleared hillside allows for a 1,320-foot run. The slope faces the modern campground and is accessed from Skyline Drive near Pavilion #5.

Ice Fishing: About 630 acres of the lake are available during the winter. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Ice Skating: Ice skating is permitted on the lake. Ice thickness is not monitored.

Contact

149 Main Park Road, Howard, PA 16841-3508

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