Cherry Springs State Park is nearly as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago. Its dark skies make it a haven for astronomers. Named for the large stands of black cherry trees in the park, the 48-acre state park is surrounded by the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest. The Susquehanna Trail passes nearby and offers 85 miles of backpacking and hiking.
Dark Skies at Cherry Springs
Due to its exceptionally dark skies, Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best places on the eastern seaboard for stargazing and the science of astronomy.
Short Term Stargazing
If you would like to come out and enjoy the magnificent night sky at Cherry Springs and only wish to gaze for a few hours, you may do so at the Night Sky Viewing area located north of Rt. 44 (opposite the gated Astronomy Observation Field). Public parking lots are located here along with several information kiosks and waysides. You may follow the walkway out to the public program area where benches are located and you will be shielded from passing vehicle lights. There is also a backlit summer sky map wayside located on this pathway. Press the button at the lower side of the display to activate the red light.
Although white light is permitted, a red filter or cover for your flashlight is recommended to preserve your night vision. Please remember to always direct your light downward.
Cherry Springs State Park is located on top of a mountain and the weather generally tends to be on the cool side. It can also be damp. It is recommended that you wear proper clothing and foot gear. Feel free to bring out your own blankets, lawn chairs, binoculars and telescopes when you visit the park.
If you bring your pet, you are responsible for ALL of their actions. Be advised that pets are NOT permitted on the Astronomy Observation Field while astronomers are present.
The picnic area is south of PA 44. A landmark in the area is the historic log pavilion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939. This unusual pavilion features two large, covered dining areas with fireplaces, surrounded by log and chink walls. The areas are connected together by a covered breezeway that also contains picnic tables. Surrounding the pavilion are huge white pine and Norway spruce trees and an old apple orchard where picnic tables and charcoal grills are available.
The Cherry Springs Working Forest Interpretive Trail begins by the information kiosk and fetures wayside exhibits on forests and forestry practices.
A single-track mountain bike trail runs 15 miles from the state forest district office at Denton Hill to Patterson State Park and continues to Cherry Springs State Park. Trail maps are available at the Bureau of Forestry and Lyman Run State Park offices.
Stay the Night
Camping: vault toilets
There are 30 campsites and a sanitary dump station. All sites include a picnic table, lantern hanger and fire ring. Reservations are not accepted. The campground is open from the second Friday in April and closes in December.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Cherry Springs State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs on a year-round basis. Through guided walks, hands-on activities, and campfire programs, visitors gain appreciation and awareness toward the natural and historical resources.
Weather permitting, a park educator or guest speaker presents public stargazing programs on the airport side of the park. Some of the programs are a partnership with the National Public Observatory as part of the Stars-n-Parks program. These free programs are available throughout the summer. Program schedules are published in the local paper and on the Cherry Springs State Park Web site.
In 1952, the first Woodsmen’s Show at Cherry Springs State Park attracted a crowd of 4,000 people. Today, the annual Woodsmen’s Show attracts thousands of spectators annually for the early August event. The show features lumberjack contests in tree-felling, log rolling, spring board chopping, standing block chop and chain-saw events.
In 1818, Jonathan Edgcomb made his second try at settling in the wilderness of Potter County. Along the Jersey Shore Pike, Edgcomb constructed a log house that became known as the Cherry Springs Hotel. The hotel was in an extremely remote spot and for years the only visitors, other than travelers on the pike, were wandering American Indians.
Over the years, the pine and hemlock in the Cherry Springs area was lumbered off and in their place grew hardwood trees like sugar maple and the park’s namesake, black cherry.
Civilian Conservation Corps Era
The Cherry Springs CCC Camp was one of ten CCC camps constructed in the Susquehannock Forest District. A forester directed the work to be done at each camp, such as clearing underbrush, opening trails, and constructing buildings and roads.
Additionally, Camp Elliott (named for District Forester Harry Elliott) was set up at Cherry Springs. This camp was not connected with the CCC camps, but was under the supervision of the former Department of Forests and Waters. Unemployed college boys primarily stayed at this camp, and one of their accomplishments was to construct the 40-acre airfield at Cherry Springs (under the former State Bureau of Aeronautics) during the summer of 1935.
c/o Lyman Run, Galeton, PA 16922More Info