Moraine State Park - Pennsylvania

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

Description

The gently rolling hills, lush forests and sparkling waters disguise a land that has endured the effects of continental glaciers and massive mineral extraction.

Each year over one million boaters, hikers, bikers and swimmers visit the 16,725-acre park, yet never realize that many people helped restore the park from prior coal mining and oil and gas drilling practices. Today, the park is an outstanding example of environmental engineering achievement.

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted. Park information, launch permits, cabin information and assistance can be obtained at the park office near the entrance to the South Shore. It is open year-round, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends during the summer. The Davis Hollow Marina office on the North Shore provides marina applications, launch permits and general park information. It is open from April 15 to October 30.

Recreation

Picnicking:

Picnic tables, charcoal grills and restrooms are located throughout the day use areas and marinas. Some facilities are ADA accessible. Seven 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. All picnic areas are open from sunrise to sunset.

Swimming:

Swimming is permitted at two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. The Pleasant Valley Beach on the South Shore is a 1,200-foot turf and sand beach and has a paved path into the water. A sand volleyball court and playground are on the west side of the beach. Lakeview Beach on the North Shore is a 550-foot sand beach.

The beaches are open daily from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day unless otherwise posted. The regular hours are sunrise to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Showers, changing facilities and snack bars are available at both beaches. To keep these areas clean and safe, pets are prohibited in the beach areas.

Snack Shop Concessions:

The Lakeview Beach Concession is at Lakeview Beach on the North Shore, about five miles from PA 422. The second snack shop is at Pleasant Valley Beach along Pleasant Valley Road on the South Shore, about one mile from PA 422 and 1/2 mile from the park office. The concessions serve a variety of hot and cold fast foods including beverages and deserts. Food is available daily Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Boating: up to 20 hp motors permitted

The 3,225-acre Lake Arthur has 10 public boat launches. Sailing conditions are ideal, and races, regattas and sailing instruction classes are held throughout the summer. Boating is prohibited in the Game Propagation area and near the dam.

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.

Crescent Bay Boat Rental:

Pontoon boats, motorboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and sailboats are available at this rental concession. Motorboat fuel, ice and fishing bait are also available for purchase. www.moraineboatrentals.com

Davis Hollow Marina:

The marina has motorboat fuel, a sanitary dumping station for boats and seasonal mooring for almost 700 vessels. Slips are designated for: 313 sailboats, catamarans and motorboats; 232 pontoon boats; 36 canoe rack spaces; 38 offshore mooring; and 80 dry mooring. A limited number of first-come, first-served transient spaces are available for short term stays. Outdoor winter storage for boats is also available in the park. Contact the marina office in advance to make sure space is available.

Watts Bay Marina:

This area provides dry mooring for sailboats and catamarans only. The marina can accommodate 138 boats in numbered parking spaces complete with tie-downs, and 36 small sailboats and sailboards in rack spaces. An additional 20 numbered parking spaces are available near or adjacent to the boat launch.

Lake Arthur Sailing Club:

This non-profit organization promotes recreational sailing on Lake Arthur. www.lasc.mycommunityhost.com

Moraine Sailing Club:

This non-profit organization promotes recreational sailing on Lake Arthur. morainesailingclub.org/website/

Windsurfing:

Barber Point, near Lakeview Beach, is popular for windsurfing due to stronger winds and sparse boat traffic. A state park launching permit is required for wind surfboards. All boating regulations apply to wind surfboards.

Fishing:

The 3,225-acre Lake Arthur is a warm-water fishery. Common species are northern pike, largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie and bluegill. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish and hybrid striped bass. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply.

Volunteers, park employees and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission employees have installed fish habitat structures throughout the lake. A map showing fish habitat project locations, water depths and specific features of the lake is available at the park office, marina office and the gift shop at McDanels Boat Launch.

Fishing is prohibited in these areas: From boat docks, launching or mooring areas, or within 100 feet of these areas. -- Anywhere in the marina cove at Davis Hollow and the Crescent Bay Marina docks. -- In the Game Propagation Area. -- Off of the bridges. -- Within 100 feet of the beaches. -- Where posted no fishing.

Hiking: 28 miles of trails

The hiking trails of Moraine State Park wander through forests and grassy areas, along lake edges and past wetlands. For your safety and to protect the resource, please stay on the trails.

For the safety of all park visitors, please keep dogs leashed and under physical control at all times.

South Shore

Sunken Garden Trail: 2.4 or 3.6 miles, easiest hiking, pink blazes

For an enjoyable and scenic hike that is close to the park office, Sunken Garden Trail offers views of the lake shoreline and travels through a variety of habitats and terrains. Hikers can choose either a 1.9-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Both sections of trail include moderate inclines. The longer section offers slightly more rugged terrain.

When conditions permit, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter. Access the trail near the Pleasant Valley Boat Launch parking lot. From the park office travel toward the Pleasant Valley Marina and take the first right turn.

Hilltop Trail: 1 or 1.4 miles, more difficult hiking, green blazes

This trail passes through different stages of forest regeneration, by cavity-nesting bird boxes and the remains of a springhouse. Hikers can choose a 1.1-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. The trail includes flat grassy areas and gradual inclines that lead to fields high above the highway and lake. Access to this trail is adjacent to the entrance of Bear Run Boat Launch.

Pleasant Valley Trail: 1.9 miles, easiest hiking, yellow blazes

This lovely trail offers an easy hike through the hills and valleys of the South Shore, passing through wooded and open grassy areas. The trail provides access to both the Windy Knob and Bear Run picnic areas, crosses the Hilltop Trail and then intersects with Sunken Garden Trail. Making a left on the Sunken Garden Trail will return you to the trailhead. When conditions permit, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in winter. Access to this trail is directly across Pleasant Valley Road from the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area.

North Shore

Five Points Trail: 1.3 miles, easiest hiking, light green blazes

This loop trail meanders through forests and by a small pond. Access to the trail is near Lakeview Beach and the cabin colony.

Glacier Ridge Trail: 14.8 miles, most difficult hiking, blue blazes

Designated as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail (www.nps.gov/noco), this trail extends 14 miles from the western end of Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center. The trail winds through forests, crosses streams and offers scenic views of Lake Arthur. Glacier Ridge Trail can be accessed at PA 528, Mount Union Road (TR 10050), Bike Rental Building and McDanels Launch Area. The Link Road Overnight Shelter is available to backpackers by reservation only. Contact the park office for backpacking information.

Wyggeston Trail: 1.5 to 4.6 miles, most difficult hiking, orange blazes

For the more adventurous, this trail has rougher, rockier terrain and is a more challenging hike than the other trails on the South Shore. The extra effort is well worth it because the trail takes you into a remote, undeveloped section of the park with diverse natural plant communities and by an old house foundation, stone fences and a historic oil pump house. The trail can be hiked either as a 1.5-mile loop, or a 3-mile or 4.5-mile trail that will not return you to your point of origin. The trail can be accessed at the northern end from Christley Road just west of PA 528 and at the southern end from Park Road.

Biking: 7 miles of trails

The paved bicycle trail winds near the shoreline between Davis Hollow and the Bike Rental Building in the northwest corner of the park. The trail can be accessed at many places in the Lakeview Beach and Watts Bay Marina areas.

Horseback Riding: 20 miles of trails

Equestrian trails are in the southwest and east sides of the park. Riding is limited to designated trails and roadsides throughout the park.

Disc Golfing:

An 18-hole disc golf course is in the Lakeview Day Use Area. For more information contact the Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society. www.pfds.org.

Stay the Night

Camping is available at nearby private campgrounds and information is available at the park office.

Modern Cabins:

Eleven modern cabins are available for rent year-round. These electrically heated cabins sleep six people and have two bedrooms, bathroom with shower, kitchen, dining/living area and a dock on Lake Arthur during the summer season. Renters must provide their own linens, towels, cookware and tableware. Play equipment for children is in a central area. Cabin 11 is ADA accessible.

Organized Group Tenting:

There are two tent camping areas available for organized groups: Muskrat Cove and Five Points. These rustic camps have picnic tables, cooking grills and water, but no showers. Advance reservations are required.

Enjoy the Winter

Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure there is solid ice at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Cross-country Skiing:

Pleasant Valley and Sunken Garden trails are groomed when snow conditions permit. The trails are blazed with yellow and pink and are suitable for all skill levels.

Sledding:

A very popular sledding area is near the Pleasant View Picnic Area on the South Shore.

Snowmobiling:

Conditions permitting, 26 miles of trails in the north and west portions of the park can be snowmobiled. There must be at least six inches of snow on the paved bike trail. Studded track snowmobiles are prohibited on the paved bike trail. Please refer to bulletin boards for additional rules and regulations for snowmobiling.

Ice Fishing:

Common species caught are largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and northern pike. Conditions permitting, ice fishing is permitted in the Game Propagation Area from January 15 through March 15.

Ice Skating:

The cove by the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area is popular for ice skating.

Iceboating:

Iceboats must display a state park launch permit.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

Moraine State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education, interpretive and recreational programs. Through hands-on educational activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Programs are offered year-round. Teacher workshops and educational programs for students are available. Please contact the park office or go to www.visitPAparks.com for more information.

Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at McDanels Boat Launch. These tours are provided through the Moraine Preservation Fund.

Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at McDanels Boat Launch. These tours are provided through the Moraine Preservation Fund. Programs on the boat teach about the wildlife of Moraine and the development of Lake Arthur. The pontoon boat operates on a regular schedule throughout the summer. The pontoon boat is open to the public and is also available for charters for a fee.

The Regatta at Lake Arthur

Every August the Regatta at Lake Arthur is two days of activities including, entertainment, education, boat races and family fun.

Wildlife Watching

Lake Arthur provides over forty-two miles of scenic shoreline. Its tributaries include Muddy Creek, Big Run, Swamp Run, Bear Run and over 75 intermittent streams. Ranging from an average depth of 11 feet to about 36 feet deep near the dam, the shallow waters of Lake Arthur are home to a variety of warm-water fish. Frogs, newts, turtles and water snakes prowl the edges of the lake. Great blue herons, green herons and belted kingfishers prey on minnows and fish fry. In the early spring, common loons stop at the lake on their migration north.

Osprey may be seen flying over Lake Arthur. Once extirpated from Western Pennsylvania, these “fish hawks” have been reintroduced to Moraine through a hacking program begun in 1993. The first osprey pair to nest along Lake Arthur as a result of this effort raised three young in 1996. Due to a successful reintroduction program statewide, the osprey population has recovered and is continuing to expand. Bald eagles are also actively nesting in the park.

A waterfowl observation deck is along Park Road.

The Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey has produced two Trail of Geology Guides for Moraine State Park. The guides explore the glacial and mining history of the park.

History

Glacial History

At least four continental glaciers reached their greatest extent just north of Moraine State Park. These huge ice sheets, sometimes over a mile thick, transported stones and soil in, within, beneath and in front of them, reshaping the land. When the glaciers retreated, they left behind the accumulated debris, which is called a moraine. Deposits of gravel, sand and clay found throughout the area are evidence of the glaciers and their moraines.

During one or more of the ice advances, a continental glacier dammed area creeks making three glacial lakes. To the north, north flowing Slippery Rock Creek filled giant Lake Edmund. To the southeast, extinct McConnells Run filled tiny Lake Prouty. In the middle, north flowing Muddy Creek filled the medium-sized Lake Watts.

The glacier dammed Lake Prouty on the edge of the drainage divide. Eventually Lake Prouty spilled over and rushed to the south, initiating the erosion Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Lakes Watts and Edmund drained into the gorge, eroding it deeper and making Slippery Rock Creek flow south. Areas of the 400-foot deep Slippery Rock Gorge may be seen at nearby McConnells Mill State Park.

The glacier created a landscape of rolling hills topped with hardwood trees and swamps in the valley bottoms.

The Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey has produced two Trail of Geology Guides for Moraine State Park. The guides explore the glacial and mining history of the park.

Human History

American Indians found the land excellent for hunting grounds. In the 1800s, farmers cleared the forests and drained the swamps. Sand and gravel deposited by the glaciers were mined and sold. Limestone and clay were mined to make ceramics. Local shale was used to make bricks. The discovery of bituminous coal ushered in a boom time for the region. Seven coal beds were deep-mined and later the land was strip-mined.

In the late 1800s wells were drilled to extract oil and gas. When the wells dried up, they were abandoned and left unsealed.

The Western Allegheny Railroad was built to transport these extracted minerals to Pittsburgh. The railroad ran the full length of the Muddy Creek Valley and through the Village of Isle, where the PA 528 bridge is today. Abandoned in 1939, the old railroad grade is still visible west of the dam and in the Muddy Creek finger of Lake Arthur.

Much of the park area lost its topsoil and many streams were polluted with abandoned mine drainage. The land remained largely unoccupied.

In 1926 Frank W. Preston of England moved to the town of Meridian and opened a glass research lab. A leader in glass research, Dr. Preston was also an amateur geologist and naturalist. On a trip to the Muddy Creek Valley, he noticed that the hills had a unique shape and attributed it to the glacial periods. Preston studied the land for decades and named many of the landforms after Edmund Watts Arthur, a prominent Pittsburgh attorney and naturalist. With the support of friends, Preston formed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to purchase land to recreate the glacial landscape and preserve open space. Muddy Creek was dammed to create modern Lake Arthur as a smaller version of glacial Lake Watts.

The former Pennsylvania departments of Forests and Waters, and Mines and Mineral Industries helped to reclaim the abused land. Workers sealed deep mines, back-filled and graded strip mines, plugged 422 gas and oil wells, fertilized the soil, and planted thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and clovers.

The dam was completed by November of 1968 and in 1970 Lake Arthur reached its full level. Moraine State Park was dedicated on May 23, 1970.

Lake Arthur reminds us that our use of natural resources to meet human needs requires decisions that affect the quality of the environment.

The Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey has produced two Trail of Geology Guides for Moraine State Park. The guides explore the glacial and mining history of the park.

Historic Points of Interest

Davis Cabin:

Construction began before the American Revolution on this cabin of hand-hewn logs and hand-carved stone. Located behind the Davis Hollow Marina, it was used as a summer home by Mrs. Katherine Davis and her sister Miss Eleanor Holt. A fine example of pioneer construction, there is a safe built within a stone wall, an authentic wagon wheel chandelier and walls made of wormy American chestnut.

Central Power House:

An operating central power is tucked in the woods just beyond Muskrat Cove where a stream crosses under the service road. Built at the turn of the century, it contains a Bessemer engine, pumping jacks and other equipment used during the early days of the oil industry. The engine is operated several times a year. A book on the Muddy Creek Oil Field is for sale at the park office.

Contact

225 Pleasant Valley Road, Portersville, PA 16051-2031

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