Locust Lake State Park - Pennsylvania

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Description

Known for its popular camping area, Locust Lake State Park nestles on the side of Locust Mountain. The 52-acre Locust Lake is located between two campgrounds and is surrounded by beautiful forests. Hiking and fishing are popular activities in the 1,772-acre park.

Recreation

Swimming:

The beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming. Swimming areas are marked with buoys and have a maximum depth of 5 1/2 feet. Swimmers can buy food and snacks at the campstore/boat rental.

Boating: electric motors only

The 52-acre Locust Lake has a boat launch. Rowboats, canoes and pedal boats are available at the a boat rental concession.

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

Fishing:

The 52-acre Locust Lake is a warm-water fishery and receives several stockings of brown and brook trout annually. Pickerel, bass (largemouth and smallmouth) and panfish give anglers action in all seasons. Fishermen who are not camping are required to use the fishermen’s parking area near the park entrance. There is an ADA accessible fishing pier by the program pavilion on the north side of the lake.

Hiking: 6.75 miles of trails

Oak/Ridge Trail: 0.75 mile, easiest hiking, white/blue blazes

This interpretive trail winds along a woodland creek, through a mature forest and through young woodland areas. Along the entire loop of this self-guiding trail species of trees and other vegetation are marked, and posted with educational signs.

Oak/Hemlock Trail: 2 miles, more difficult hiking, white/yellow blazes

This trail is blazed through a mature hemlock stand through which flows a woodland stream. The trail also passes by a unique geological outcropping.

Oak Loop Trail: 4 miles, most difficult hiking, white blazes

The longest of the loop trails, it encircles a ridge covered by a mature deciduous forest.

Biking: 1.3 miles of trails

A paved, 1.3-mile long bike trail circles the lake and gives an excellent view of the lake.

Stay the Night

Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups

The 282 campsites are divided into tent or trailer sites that encircle the lake. Tenting is permitted on the north side of the lake and the trailer facilities are on the south side of the lake. All areas are within easy access to swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.

All campsites are in a wooded area and have a parking pad, picnic table, fire ring and a cleared area for camping equipment. There are also a number of walk-in sites. Pets are permitted on designated sites.

Campground conveniences include modern restrooms and washhouses with shower facilities. A sanitary dump station is on the trailer side of the lake. Trash/recycling areas are on the north and south sides of the lake.

There are three play areas within the campgrounds. Two playgrounds are in the trailer loops and one is on the tent side of the lake. Playground equipment is designed for a variety of age groups.

A campstore/boat rental is near the fishermen’s launching area on the western side of the lake and has basic food and camping supplies like wood and bait, boat rentals and a public phone. Visit the camp store. www.locustlakecampstore.com

Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 3 host positions

Campground host sites have amenities that include 20 or 40-amp electric service. Hosts are required to assist park personnel for 40 hours per week with a four-week minimum stay. The hosts are also required to perform light maintenance, litter picking, and promote good public relations with park visitors. Contact the park office for additional information and availability.

Winter Activities

Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.

Ice Fishing:

Trout and panfish are the primary species caught through the ice of the 52-acre Locust Lake. The ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Ice Skating:

Skating is permitted on the natural lake ice. The ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

Locust Lake State Park offer a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. An environmental education specialist is available to develop EE curriculums and sites, and provide teacher workshops and additional teacher and community services.

Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Programs are offered March to November. For more detailed information contact the park office.

Wildlife Watching

There are many opportunities to see wildlife, but please observe from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.

Over 100 species of birds have been identified at Locust Lake, including 16 species of birds of prey. Because of its location in the Appalachian Mountain section of the Ridge and Valley Province, Locust Valley is positioned along the migration route used by many species of birds of prey, including red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, merlins and ospreys. Screech owls and great-horned owls are year-round residents.

Natural Resources of the Locust Valley

Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks are located six miles from each other in the Locust Valley. Locust Lake is located in the western side of the valley near the headwaters of Locust Creek. After meandering east six miles along Locust Mountain, Locust Creek flows into Tuscarora Lake and eventually to the Schuylkill River. Surrounded by lands that were strip-mined for coal, Locust Valley is a green oasis of forests and wetlands abounding in wildlife.

Although extensively logged in the 1800s, the land is reforested with second and third growth timber. The mixed oak forest contains scattered patches of eastern hemlock and white pine, but is dominated by northern red oak, chestnut oak, white oak and trees like sycamore, yellow birch, red maple, white ash and tulip poplar. The diversity of trees supplies food for squirrel, chipmunk, bear, deer, turkey and grouse and provides nesting sites and cover for wildlife.

To slow soil erosion, in 1966, over 110 acres of fields in Tuscarora State Park were planted with Austrian, eastern white, red and pitch pines, Japanese and European larches, Norway and white spruces, and eastern hemlocks. About 50,000 trees of each species were planted. Look for areas where the trees are all in rows and are the same species to find these tree plantations.

A variety of smaller trees and shrubs grow under the large trees and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Ironwood and spicebush are good browse for deer. Black locust, flowering and silky dogwood, mountain laurel, rhododendron, blueberry and serviceberry have beautiful flowers and edible fruit and seeds for wildlife. Ferns, wildflowers, herbs and grasses on the forest floor provide shelter and runways for smaller animals like mice, chipmunks, snakes, salamanders and insects. Locust Lake boasts 15 species of ferns and over 240 species of wildflowers.

Both state parks manage several fields for wildlife food and habitat. These meadows support a complex food web of plants, insects and animals. There are approximately 134 acres of open fields by the entrance to Tuscarora State Park. These old fields and upland meadows contain natural herbaceous vegetation and by periodic mowing are managed for plant diversity. Small "islands" in each area are not mowed and allowed to grow. Also, permanent brush fields are maintained for wildlife. These 96 acres are planted with cover or food for wildlife. Some of the shrubs are blueberry, huckleberry and scrub oak.

Thirty-eight acres of Locust Lake located by the dam are periodically mowed to prevent natural succession by trees. Wildflowers, tall grasses and other herbaceous plants provide roots, leaves, nectar and pollen for a host of meadow dwelling creatures. Some species of wildlife inhabiting this area are shrews, moles, meadow voles, meadow mice, butterflies and moths, and hundreds of other insect species. These insects and small animals attract the carnivores that prey on them like hawks, owls and foxes.

The edges of Locust Creek and Tuscarora and Locust Lakes are riparian areas, also called wetlands. The often-wet soil is inhospitable to many plants, but sphagnum moss, rushes, burreed, skunk cabbage and cattails can only live in wetlands. This vegetation is important to the ecosystem of the lake. Plants provide food for fish and wildlife, hiding places for smaller organisms, spawning and nursery areas for fish, and contribute to the dissolved oxygen supply. Aquatic vegetation in the lakes like milifoil, coontail, cattail and curlyleaf pondweed are homes to insect larvae like dragonflies and mayflies.

Many unique animals depend on wetlands. In and around water at Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks you can see pickerel frogs, bullfrogs, red-spotted newts, great blue herons, painted turtles, crayfish, water snakes and many fish and waterfowl.

Wetlands are not only important to plants and animals, but provide a great service to people. Water entering a wetland is slowed down and cleaned. Wetlands slow floods and clean water and are one reason that the water in the Locust Valley is so clean.

History

Before European Settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, a deep forest of hemlock, white pine, ash, hickory, elm, oak, cherry and American chestnut covered the Locust Valley. Claimed by the Lenni Lenape, conquered by the Susquehannocks, and later controlled by the New York Iroquios League of Five Nations, the land has a strong American Indian history.

When settlers discovered anthracite coal in Schuylkill County, immigrants swiftly arrived for the mining jobs and arrived in the Locust Valley in the mid-1800s. It was not economically feasible to mine the coal in the Locust Valley, but the area did not escape the American Industrial Revolution.

The forests fell to the logger's ax and sawmills turned the trees into lumber, shingles, tool handles and other wood products. Tanneries crushed hemlock and white pine bark for tanning leather. Colliers burned chestnuts and oaks into charcoal. Strong timbers supported the roofs of mines. The forests were gone by the early 1900s, replaced by shrubby land prone to seasonal floods and forest fires. Some farmers tilled the cleared land.

Purchased by the Marshalonis Brothers, the Locust Lake area became a fishing spot and picnic grove. When digging a lake, the brothers found a dam, boards and the hub of a waterwheel under seven feet of leaves, silt and debris. The remains of an old logging mill and dam were under silt from flooding and runoff caused by the removal of all of the trees for lumber during the logging era.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the Marshalonis Brother's land in 1966. Locust Lake State Park officially opened on June 10, 1972.

Contact

687 Tuscarora Park Road, Barnesville, PA 18214-2810

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