Trough Creek State Park - Pennsylvania

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide:


The 554-acre Trough [troff] Creek State Park is a scenic gorge formed as Great Trough Creek cuts through Terrace Mountain and empties into Raystown Lake. Rugged hiking trails lead to wonders like Balanced Rock and Rainbow Falls. Rothrock State Forest and Raystown Lake Recreation Area border the park, making a large, contiguous area of public land for recreation.



Five picnic areas throughout the park provide a variety of scenic table sites. One large picnic pavilion and two smaller ones may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. A fourth small picnic pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Restrooms, hand pump wells and activity areas are in some picnic areas.


Stream fishing in Great Trough Creek provides a variety of fish including trout, smallmouth bass, rock bass, sucker and panfish. In recent years, smelt fish netting has become popular each spring when these fish enter tributaries of Raystown Lake to spawn. Lake fishing is available via a short walk along Terrace Mountain Trail to a sheltered cove of Raystown Lake. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations and seasons apply.

Hiking: 12 miles of trails

The trails traverse scenic vistas, cool stream hollows, hillsides and ridge tops. A popular short hike crosses the suspension bridge and follows Rhododendron Trail to Rainbow Falls. Climb the steps along the waterfall, then hike on to Balanced Rock and return the same way.

The hiking trails of Trough Creek State Park are famous for their beauty and scenic views. Because trails can be steep, rocky, follow along cliffs or pass through narrow ravines, hikers should use extreme caution when hiking and wear hiking boots. Children must be supervised at all times. Trail conditions may be slippery when wet or icy depending on weather conditions.

Abbot Run Trail: 0.18-miles, white blazes, moderate hiking

Beginning at the Rainbow Falls Bridge, this trail follows Abbot Run up out of Great Trough Creek Gorge past the trail to Balanced Rock. The trail crosses the stream twice, providing surprising changes in scenery, before ending on Old Forge Road.

Balanced Rock Trail: 0.12-mile, green blazes, moderate hiking

This trail starts at Trough Creek Drive. It passes over Great Trough Creek via a suspension bridge then past beautiful Rainbow Falls. The trail ascends a flight of CCC-built stone steps overlooking Abbot Run and ends at the geologic wonder, Balanced Rock.

Brumbaugh Trail: 2.4-miles, orange blazes, difficult hiking

Starting at Balanced Rock, this trail rises and falls through spectacular forest scenery along the hillsides and ridges. From a large opening atop one of the higher ridges there is a beautiful view of Raystown Lake. This trail ends along Old Forge Road and Terrace Mountain Trail below the old park dam.

Boulder Trail: 1.05-mile, red blazes, moderate hiking

Starting at Ice Mine, Boulder Trail follows an old logging road up the mountain through beautiful forests and is moderately steep. The scenic and winding trail crosses Terrace Mountain Road above the campground, then descends to the suspension bridge parking area. The trail name is derived from the many boulders along the trail.

Cemetery Trail: 0.28-miles, orange blazes, moderate hiking

Starting at the Paradise Furnace ruins, this trail crosses a small stream on a wooden bridge then begins a moderate climb to an old Paradise Furnace cemetery. This delightful trail passes a small waterfall and ends at an old cemetery.

Copperas Rock Trail: 0.43-mile, red blazes, moderate hiking

Starting along Trough Creek Drive at Copperas Rock, this trail climbs a fairly steep and rocky slope through oak and hemlock trees and ends on Ledges Trail. You can make a nice 2.5-mile loop by following Ledges Trail to Abbot Run Trail, descending to Rainbow Falls and following Rhododendron Trail back to Copperas Rock Trail just above the parking lot.

Laurel Run Trail: 1.8 miles, green blazes, moderate hiking

Starting along Trough Creek Drive where it crosses Laurel Run, this scenic trail follows Laurel Run between two ridges and into state forest land, then crosses Terrace Mountain Road and ends with a moderate incline to Boulder Trail. It meanders across Laurel Run numerous times by way of eight rustic bridges. This trail is very scenic and lends itself well to wildlife viewing.

Ledges Trail: 0.91-mile, blue blazes, moderate hiking

This trail starts at Trough Creek Drive below the park office and ends at Abbot Run Trail. The highlight of this trail is the panoramic view of the Great Trough Creek gorge from several lookouts. This trail passes the ruins of the old Paradise Furnace schoolhouse.

Raven Rock Trail: 0.32-mile, yellow blazes, moderate hiking

This trail starts near the upper end of Abbot Run Trail. It takes you by the geologic wonder, Balanced Rock, and finally ends up along Trough Creek at Raven Rock where you will need to retrace your steps to Balanced Rock. Raven Rock is the cliff site that local legend says was a favorite nesting site for ravens.

Rhododendron Trail: 0.6-mile, green blazes, moderate hiking

Starting at Copperas Rock Trail and ending at the suspension bridge, this trail takes hikers up and down from ridge top to valley floor. Its name is derived from the beautiful rhododendrons that line the trail. The steepest portion of the trail is very rocky and requires cautious footing. Rhododendron usually blooms in early July.

Biking: 3.5 miles of trails

Old Forge Road west of Great Trough Creek is a dirt road that can be biked to the edge of Raystown Lake.

Stay the Night

Camping: 29 sites, all with electricty

The cozy camping area accommodates any size camper and has a rustic restroom with no showers. Each site has an electric hookup, picnic table, campfire ring and separate crushed stone tent pad. A sanitary dump station is next to the park office. Camping is open from mid-April through mid-December. Pets are permitted on designated sites.

Free Camping for Campground Hosts: one host position in the rustic campground

The campground host site has amenities including 30-amp electric service, however, sewer dump station is located some distance from host site. The host is required to work 40 hours per week with two days off per week. Contact the park office for additional information and availability.

Trough Creek Lodge:

This renovated, two story, stone home is available for rental year-round. The stone was covered with stucco which was scribed to look like brick, a common practice when the home was built.

Originally constructed in the mid-1800s as an ironmaster’s home, it has a modern eat-in-kitchen, two bathrooms, four bedrooms and central heat. The lodge has spacious porches, yard areas and sits atop a hill overlooking Paradise Furnace. The lodge is fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Makea reservation.

Winter Activities

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


The park serves as a trailhead for trails on Rothrock State Forest lands. Parking and restrooms are provided in the park. A snowmobile trail map is available from the park office.

Wildlife Warching

Natural History

Trough Creek State Park is in the Valley and Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains. Once a great mountain range, weathering and running water reduced the Appalachians into long, narrow, sweeping ridges. Great Trough Creek still carves the ridges, creating unique geologic features throughout the park and deepening Great Trough Creek Gorge.

Ice Mine:

While building a railroad line, workers likely discovered Ice Mine, a natural refrigerator. In winter, cold air diffuses into spaces between the rocks of the hillside. In spring and summer, cold air flows down through the spaces between the rocks and into Ice Mine. This used to cause snowmelt and moisture in the air to refreeze in the entrance of Ice Mine. Today, little ice forms in Ice Mine, likely because the stone wall around Ice Mine blocks the snowmelt. During the spring and summer, visitors can still experience the chill of winter by stepping down into Ice Mine.

Balanced Rock:

This huge boulder is perched on the edge of a cliff, looking ready to fall off at any moment into Great Trough Creek far below. Balanced Rock, an “erosion remnant” has hung there for thousands of years. Once part of a cliff with layers of hard and soft rocks, soft rocks below Balanced Rock eroded away first, easing Balanced Rock into its current position.

All of the other rocks of the cliff eroded away or fell over the cliff, leaving only Balanced Rock. To preserve the natural beauty of Balanced Rock, please do not spray paint or vandalize any natural features.

Copperas Rocks:

Pictured on the brochure cover and above, Copperas Rocks is named for the coppery-yellow stain on the cliff surface. The crystalline, yellow precipitate is ferrous sulfate that leaches from a small pocket of coal. Although this substance is one of the main pollutants in abandoned mine drainage, the small quantity here is not harmful to the stream. Early settlers possibly used ferrous sulfate as a mordant for setting the dye color in cloth.

Wildlife Watching

The park office is a good place to see piebald white-tailed deer, which have an uncommon pelt variation of brown and white blotches. Along Trough Creek Drive is a good place to see woodland birds like scarlet tanager, veery, waterthrush, nuthatch, vireo, wood-pewee, chickadee and woodpecker.

Hiking trails are avenues to see spring wildflowers and trails lined with mountain laurel which blooms in June and rhododendron, which blooms in July. Copperhead, timber rattlesnake and five-lined skink can often be found sunning on rock outcrops throughout the park. Bear, white-tailed deer and turkey are often seen along Hill Farm Road, just before entering the park.


The American Indians knew Great Trough Creek Gorge as a place to live and hunt, but were displaced by settlers who came to harness the natural power of the moving water. In 1780, the first settler, Nicholas Crum, built a wooden tub (turbine) gristmill. A bloomery followed in 1790 and made about 100 pounds of iron a day.

In 1827, Rueben Trexler constructed Paradise Furnace, which produced 12 tons of cast iron a day. In 1832, Savage Forge was built to turn the cast iron into wrought iron. Changing economics caused the community to crumble in 1856. Paradise Furnace briefly reopened during the American Civil War.

The area has attracted many famous visitors. It is reputed that Edgar Allen Poe visited and later wrote the poem “The Raven” after seeing the ravens that nested on the cliffs.

In 1910, the partnership of Caprio and Grieco established a standard logging railroad from Marklesburg, Pa., to Paradise Furnace, a distance of eight miles. At Paradise Furnace, a sawmill produced mine props, timber, and railroad ties from the second-growth timber of the valley.

In 1913, the railroad incorporated as the Juniata and Southern Railroad and extended the rail line seven miles to reach the Broad Top Coal and Mineral Company’s mine at Jacobs, Pa. In 1917, the mine closed and the timber was all harvested. The railroad was dismantled and scrapped. Due to the need for metal for World War I, the scrap sold for more than the original cost to build the railroad. Due to the loss of trees, the land was prone to floods and forest fires.

In 1933, to relieve the rampant unemployment of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The young men in the CCC received food, clothes and a small paycheck in return for building roads, trails and recreational facilities, fighting forest fires, planting trees and doing many other conservation activities.

In June of 1933, Company 1331 arrived and lived in tents while they built Camp S-57, named Camp Paradise Furnace. The young men planted trees, constructed roads and trails, and created Trough Creek State Park, which opened in 1936. World War II ended the CCC and Camp S-57 closed in 1941.


16362 Little Valley Road, James Creek, PA 16657-9302

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