Nockamixon State Park - Pennsylvania

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

Description

The 5,286-acre Nockamixon State Park is in the rolling hills of scenic Bucks County, close enough to Philadelphia for a day trip, but far enough away for a vacation. Tohickon Creek, Three Mile Run and Haycock Run feed the 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon, which is a rest stop for migrating waterfowl and a destination for boaters and anglers. Visitors can stay the night in a cabin or enjoy the many activities of the park for the day. Popular activities are picnicking, visiting the pool, hiking, biking and boating.

Recreation

Fishing:

Picnic tables and charcoal grills are in several areas of the park and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A pavilion can be rented. Some picnic areas are closed in winter, but Haycock, Tohickon, the Marina and Three Mile Run areas are open year-round.

Swimming:

The swimming pool complex includes a one-half acre main pool with two waterslides, a shallow end with fountains for children, dressing rooms, first aid station and snack bar. Weather permitting, the summer hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The pool opens for the Memorial Day weekend then weekends only until the second weekend in June when it begins seven days a week operation. The pool is typically closed on weekdays beginning mid-August and then reopens for weekends including Labor Day which is the end of the pool season.

An admission fee is charged, with reduced rates after 5:45 p.m. Seasonal passes and group tickets for non-profit organizations can be purchased at the park office. Swimming lessons and water aerobics classes are provided by the lifeguards. The pool is available for party rentals.

Swimming is prohibited in Lake Nockamixon.

Boating: up to 20 hp motors permitted

The 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon has four public launching areas. The Marina and Tohickon launch ramps are popular with sailboat, catamaran and windsurfing enthusiasts. Three Mile Run and Haycock launch facilities are favored for motorboats, kayaks and inflatable watercraft. Launching facilities are open 24 hours a day.

In addition to having the largest launch ramp in the park, the Marina has docking facilities for 648 boats up to 24 feet in length and a 120-space dry storage area for boats on trailers. Because of the tremendous demand for marina space a waiting list is maintained at the park office for seasonal slips or dry storage spaces. Marina slips may be rented on a short-term basis as available. Contact the marina office or park office for additional information and applicable rates. A boat rental concession has canoes, motorboats, rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks and pontoon boats during the summer season. Call directly to the boat rental for applicable rates and regulations.

A boat rental concession has canoes, motorboats, rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks and pontoon boats during the summer season. Call directly to the boat rental for applicable rates and regulations.

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.

Established in 1974, the Nockamixon Sailing Club organizes activities for sailing on Lake Nockamixon. The club serves both racing and cruising sailors with a full calendar of events from April to November each year. www.nockamixonsailclub.org

Windsurfing:

Tohickon Boat Launch is popular for windsurfing. All boating regulations apply to wind surfboards,

Whitewater Releases:

Water is released from the dam on the first full weekend of November and the third weekend in March. The release provides an opportunity for whitewater enthusiasts to experience the thrilling run down Tohickon Creek to the Delaware River.

Fishing:

The 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon is a warm-water fishery. Common species are walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, smallmouth and largemouth bass, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish, carp and various types of panfish. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply

There is a fishing pier at the midpoint of the lake in the Day Use Area and an ADA accessible fishing platform near the Haycock Boat Launch.

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

Fishing is Prohibited in these Areas: From boat docks, launching or mooring areas and within 100 feet of these areas -- Anywhere in the boat rental area and the Marina out to the buoys and from bridges -- Where posted “no fishing”

Hiking: 35 miles of trails

The hiking trails of the park explore forests, fields and the edge of the lake. For the safety of all park users please keep dogs leashed and under physical control while in the park.

Sterner Mill Hiking Area: 1.5 miles

In the southwest corner of the park, this area has several loop trails which pass near the lake. Hikers can see a small pond, rock outcroppings, lake views and pass through hardwood forests and pine plantations. All trails in this area are easiest hiking. This is the only unpaved trail that is closed to horses.

High Bridge Trail: 2.5 miles

This wooded hiking trail runs along both sides of Tohickon Creek from the Weisel Hostel to the High Bridge on PA 563 and Quarry Trail. This trail connects the Sterner Mill Hiking Area with the hostel.

Quarry Trail: 2.5 miles

This trail winds through old foundations which are remnants of a summer camp. The trail provides a spectacular view of the lake and an overlook of the old quarry that provided building material for area structures. The trail can be accessed from the Kahagen Road Parking Lot off PA 563 or Old Bethlehem Road. This trail is more difficult hiking.

Old Mill Trail: 2.5 miles

This trail crosses the stream at the old mill pond and passes across the top of the stone dam breast. Hikers pass through a mature woodlot, pine plantations and hike a loop that follows the lake shore. Access the trail at the western terminus of the Paved Bicycle Trail, from the gravel lot on Deerwood Lane or from Old Bethlehem Road. This trail is more difficult hiking.

Old Haycock Road: 1 mile

This hiking trail is an old road that reaches the lake. The trail begins behind the gate in the Haycock Boat Launch.

Southside of the Lake Trails:

Established trails extend most of the way along the south shore of the lake. Park land on this side of the lake is narrow at spots but there still is a two-way “loop” of trails, including Elephant, Church and Mink trails, and many parking lots for creating hikes of various lengths.

Biking:

The popular paved bicycle trail winds through the Day use Area and is ideal for bicycles, strollers, wheelchairs and walkers. The eastern end of the trail begins at the Marina, which offers parking and great views of the lake. At the western end of the trail is a waterfall and the Old Mill Pond. A spur off the main trail passes two workout stations on the way to the swimming pool and playground.

Caution: This trail is not a loop -- The trail has many curves -- Please exercise caution and be considerate of other riders and walkers when using the trail

Mountain Biking: 10 miles of trails

A 10-mile trail system for mountain bikes is on the east side of Haycock Cove. Trailheads are located off of Tower Road and the trail can also be accessed from Route 563.

Caution: The ten-mile trail bike trail can be hazardous. -- Some slopes are steep and there are rough surfaces and slippery areas. -- The trail is for riders equipped for off-road riding. -- Bikers ride bike trails at their own risk.

Horseback Riding: 14 miles of trails

Riding is permitted on designated trails and roadsides throughout the park. Pedestrians should yield to horses. Horses may be rented at a private establishment near the park.

Disc Golfing:

An 18-hole course in the Day Use Area begins from Parking Lot 13 by the Children’s Fishing Pond.

Stay the Night

Modern Cabins:

Located on the south side of Lake Nockamixon, ten modern cabins are available for rent year-round. Each cabin contains a furnished living area, kitchen/dining area and toilet/shower room. Outdoors is a fire ring, grill and picnic table. These electrically heated cabins are two-bedroom (sleeps six) or three-bedroom (sleeps 8). Cabin 6 is ADA accessible. Renters must provide their own bed linens, towels, cookware, tableware and first aid kit. In the summer, cabins must be rented by the week. For the remainder of the year, the minimum stay is two nights.

Hostel:

The Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation operates the Weisel Hostel along the Tohickon Creek in the northwest corner of the park. The hostel provides excellent overnight accommodations for hikers and bicyclists.

Winter Activities

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

Ice conditions can vary widely. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution when venturing onto the ice.

Cross-country Skiing:

The bicycle trail and the roads in the closed day use area are open for cross-country skiing. There are also steeper hiking trails in the Sterner Mill Area.

Sledding:

The area above the marina is used for sledding and tobogganing.

Ice Fishing:

Fishing is permitted on the frozen lake surface when conditions are suitable. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Ice Skating:

Skating is permitted on the frozen lake surface when conditions are suitable. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

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

Programs are offered during the school year. Teacher workshops and educational programs for schools are available. Please contact the park office for more information.

Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at the Marina. These tours provide a history of the park and views of wildlife and beautiful scenery. Preregistration is required for the boat tours; please contact the park office.

Wildlife Watching

Birding

Over 250 species of birds have been recorded at Nockamixon State Park. The numerous habitats of the park are havens for birds and wildlife. The park has grasslands, overgrown fields, pine plantations, second growth forests, wetlands and the 1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon.

The fishing pier in the Day Use Area is a great place to look for migrating waterfowl and raptors in the spring and fall. Over twenty species of waterfowl, including ducks, grebes, swans, geese and loons have been recorded in the park.

The paved bike trail in the Day Use Area passes through forest, overgrown fields and picnic groves. Finches and sparrows are year-round residents. Spring and summer visitors to the area include Baltimore oriole, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler and white-eyed vireo.

The forest by the pool in the Day Use Area is a good place to see pileated woodpeckers, which have nested there. Phoebe and peewee are common summer residents of the park. Migratory warblers often visit to rest and refuel in the trees.

The lake by the Marina is a great place to look for waterfowl, especially rafts of ducks during migration. In March and April, huge flocks of gulls pass through the area. Vultures roost by the Marina year-round. Nesting boxes in the grassy areas nearby the Marina host eastern bluebirds and tree swallows. Please do not disturb the nest boxes.

The forest around the cabin area comes alive each spring with the songs of wood thrushes, veeries and ovenbirds. Summer visitors to Mink Trail are prairie warbler, Baltimore oriole, eastern towhee and white-eyed vireo.

The varied habitats by the dam support diverse bird species. The hemlock dominated forest is a year-round home to woodpeckers and a summer breeding grounds for thrushes, scarlet tanagers and warblers. The spillway of the dam is a favorite spot for killdeer, sandpipers, herons, great egrets, kingfishers and osprey. The woodlot above the dam is home to wrens, rose-breasted grosbeaks and blue-gray gnatcatchers.

Bald eagles have been spotted around the deep waters above the dam, but can be seen anywhere around the lake especially in September, February and March.

Scenic Vista

A pull-off along South Park Road west of the bridge over Tohickon Creek provides a scenic view of the dam spillway. In the winter, the water freezes into a myriad of colors and shapes and creates one of the park’s most spectacular sights.

Sentinel Rock

This unusual rock formation is downstream of the dam and upstream of South Park Road on the east side of the creek.

Native and Warm Season Grass Fields

When the park was created in the 1960s, most of the land had been small farms. Since then, the fields became overgrown with non-native species like autumn olive and multiflora rose.

The park has reclaimed many of these fields and planted them with native warm-season grasses like indiangrass, big and little bluestem and switchgrass. These grasslands provide a critical habitat which is rare in Pennsylvania. The fields benefit grassland birds like meadowlark, bobolink, and grasshopper sparrow as well as turkey, rabbit and small mammals.

History

The name Nockamixon comes from the American Indian phrase “nocha-miska-ing” which is Lenni Lenape for “at the place of soft soil.” Several American Indian sites from the Lenni Lenape Tribe (Delaware) are documented in the park area.

Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters, Dr. Maurice K. Goddard, proposed the park in 1958. The park was developed as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan for the Delaware River Basin.

Originally known as Tohickon State Park after the principal stream flowing into Lake Nockamixon, it was renamed Nockamixon State Park by the State Geographic Board in 1965. The park officially opened in December of 1973.

Contact

1542 Mountain View Dr., Quakertown, PA 18951-5732

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