Bald Eagle State Park
The 5,900-acre Bald Eagle State Park is in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania. The 1,730-acre lake laps the flanks of Bald Eagle Mountain, surrounded by forests, fields and wetlands. With two campgrounds, boating, fishing, swimming, the Nature Inn, and diverse habitats that are excellent for wildlife watching, Bald Eagle State Park is a great destination in the heart of Pennsylvania.
Recreational facilities are a result of a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources-Bureau of State Parks.
Picnicking: Picnic areas around the lake all have picnic tables, grills and restrooms. Picnic areas open at sunrise and close at sunset. 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.
Most boat launches areas have picnic tables, grills and restrooms.
Schencks Grove Picnic Area, on the ridge on the south side of Marina Cove, has two play fields and a volleyball net.
Point Picnic Area, on the point of the peninsula overlooking the beach and marina, has pavilions #3 and #4 and a volleyball net.
The Beach Picnic Area has pavilions #1, #2, #6 and #7.
The Skyline Drive Picnic Area is on a ridge overlooking Frog Pond, the lake and Bald Eagle Mountain. This area has Pavilion #5.
Winter Launch Picnic Area has Pavilion #8, and a fishing pier to accommodate people with disabilities.
Bald Eagle Boat Launch has Pavilion #9.
Swimming: The 1,200-foot long sand and turf beach has a children’s playground, snack bar, changing rooms, public restrooms and parking. The regular hours are 8 a.m. to sunset, Memorial Day to Labor Day, unless otherwise posted. Swim at your own risk. Please follow posted rules for swimming. The swimming area is ADA accessible. Pets are prohibited in the beach area.
Explore swimming for more information.
A food and refreshment concession is in the beach area and offers hot sandwiches and snacks. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather permitting. Contact the park for additional information.
Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir: The 1,730-acre lake is the focal point for water-based recreation in the park. The nearly eight-mile long lake has 23 miles of shoreline.
Because of its role in flood damage reduction and downstream water quality, the operation of the dam is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Lake levels vary throughout the year. Beginning in November, the USACE begins a five-foot lake draw down to prepare for winter waters. Between mid-February and early March, the water level is lowered an additional 15 feet to maximum flood protection pool. Depending on weather conditions, the reservoir usually reaches the summer recreational pool by mid-May. For current lake level visit the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers lake level Web site.
Boating: unlimited horsepower motors permitted
Boats equipped with inboard engines with over-the-transom or straight-stack type exhausts are prohibited.
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.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Most boat launches have picnic tables, grills and restrooms.
Hunter Run West Launch, by the Russell P. Letterman campground, allows 24-hour access.
Hunter Run East Launch, off East Launch Road, allows 24-hour access.
Winter Launch, located along the lake north of the beach, provides year-round boating, a fishing pier which can accommodate persons with disabilities, and 24-hour access. This launch is usable at all water levels.
Bald Eagle Boat Launch, in the town of Howard, is lighted and provides 24-hour access.
Lower Greens Run Boat Launch, off PA 150, has a fishing pier provides 24-hour access.
Upper Greens Run Boat Launch, off PA 150, provides 24-hour access.
Marina and Boat Concession: Three hundred and sixty-nine marina dockage slips can be rented on a seasonal basis. Transient slips are rented on a daily basis. Boat and trailer storage is available for the summer and winter seasons. Contact the park office for additional information.
When available, the boating concession, located at the marina, rents boats, sells gasoline and does repairs. The concession is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and weekends during the months of September and October, weather permitting. Contact the park office for additional information. www.boatsandbikesetc.com
Fishing: The 1,730-acre Sayers Reservoir and its 23 miles of shoreline offer excellent warm water fishing. Common species are crappie, yellow perch, tiger muskellunge, channel catfish and largemouth and smallmouth bass. The lake is a panfish enhancement waterway and special regulations apply. An ADA accessible fishing pier is at the Winter Launch in the Main Park Area. Ice fishing is permitted. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake Depth Black-and-white Map (.pdf) (17,421 kb, 8/15)
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: About 4,910 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl and rabbit. Hunting is also available on nearby state game lands 92 and 252.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 14.5 miles of trails
Butterfly Trail: 1.5 miles - easiest hiking
Hunter Run East Trail: 2.3 miles - more difficult hiking
Hunter Run West Trail: 2.2 miles - more difficult hiking
Lakeside Trail: 2.9 miles or 4.4 miles - more difficult hiking
Skyline Drive Trail: 2 miles - easiest hiking
Swamp Oak Trail: 0.5 mile - easiest hiking
Woapalanne Path: 2 miles - easiest hiking
Russell P. Letterman Campground: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups
Explore camping for more information.
Rustic Camping Area: vault toilets
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position in each campground
Camping Cottages: Three camping cottages sleep five people and have wooden floors, windows, electric heat, porch, picnic table, fire ring and electric lights and outlets. Vehicles are to be parked on the hard surface only, not on the grass. Located in the Russell P. Letterman Campground. In 2016, dogs will be permitted in Camping Cottage 1 for a fee.
Deluxe Camping Cottage: A deluxe cottage is available from the second Friday in April until the end of deer season in mid-December. Deluxe cottages have minimal furnishings; kitchen stove top, refrigerator, microwave oven, electric heat, lighting and bunk beds. There is no running water in deluxe cottages. However, a showerhouse is nearby.
Yurts: Two round, canvas and wood tents on wooden decks sleep 6, have electric heat, a cooking stove, refrigerator, beds and a table and chairs. Located in the center of the Russell P. Letterman Campground, the yurts offer convenient accommodations for weekly rentals. Shorter stays are available during the spring and fall seasons. One yurt can accommodate people with disabilities. In 2016, dogs will be permitted Yurt B for a fee.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle: Experience the beauty of Bald Eagle State Park in a new addition to the Pennsylvania State Park system—The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle. The 18,500-square-foot, 16-room building overlooks the park’s lake and provides full-service accommodations. This modern inn, unique to the park system, focuses on outdoor recreation and stewardship, making maximum use of green building technologies, while serving as a premier interpretive facility for bird watching. natureinnatbaldeagle.com
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Some park trails and open areas are suitable for cross-country skiing. About seven miles of ungroomed trails are available with proper snow conditions.
Sledding: About five acres of cleared hillside allows for a 1,320-foot run. The slope faces the modern campground and is accessed from Skyline Drive near Pavilion #5.
Ice Fishing: About 630 acres of the lake are available during the winter. Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
Ice Skating: Ice skating is permitted on the lake. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Bald Eagle State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs year-round. Through guided walks, hands-on activities, and campfire programs, visitors gain appreciation and awareness toward the natural and historical resources.
Curriculum-based outdoor investigations and hands-on environmental activities are available to local schools, youth and community organizations, and homeschool associations. Programs for children to learn about the environment are presented annually through the Pennsylvania State Park’s DiscoverE day camp. This program is open to children ages 4-17 and their parents. Group programs must be scheduled in advance by calling the park office. For more information on park programs, check the activity schedule on the park bulletin boards or at the park office. A complete listing is available online.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
Access to boating on the lake for people with disabilities is available at the Marina. Pavilions #6 and #7 in the Beach Picnic Area are ADA accessible.
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The diverse geology in the park provides the backdrop for the lake, forests, fields, wetlands, and streams. Old field habitat throughout the park is undergoing natural succession. Grasses are giving way to goldenrod and asters, and gray dogwood and sumacs are being pushed out by pines and maples. These fields provide homes for bluebird, monarch butterfly, woodchuck, and cottontail rabbit, while squirrel and downy woodpecker inhabit the woodlots. A mature oak and hickory forest covers the Bald Eagle Mountain and provides homes for porcupine and turkey. The edge habitat created when old fields meet woods and wetlands, allows white-tailed deer, woodcock and red-winged blackbird to thrive.
The lake, created by the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, holds black crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch and other warm water species. The lake also attracts snapping turtles, osprey, great blue heron and the occasional bald eagle. Several intermittent streams flow into the lake providing habitat for aquatic insects, crayfish, and minnows. Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir draws most of its water from Bald Eagle Creek. The creek flows through limestone making itself and the lake alkaline. These conditions create a good warm water fishery.
Bald Eagle State Park contains diverse habitat that attracts many bird species. The mountain ridges create excellent flyways for migrating birds. Some birds stop at the park to rest and feed during their migration. Beginner and life-long birders find exploring the park with a pair of binoculars a treat no matter what the season.
Every spring songbirds like warblers, flycatchers, and swallows display courtship rituals and sing enchanting melodies while searching for nesting spots in the park. Boaters and beach goers commonly see herons, gulls, geese and osprey around the lake. In the fall, you can find migrating mergansers, cormorants, and buffleheads on the lake. Year-round residents like sparrows, finches, and cardinals can often be seen during the winter in shrubby areas.
Federal, state, and volunteer organizations actively manage the resources of the park to provide a variety of habitats for all wildlife. Dedicated volunteers have established a bluebird trail. About 100 bluebirds fledge annually from the nesting boxes built and maintained by volunteers.
eBird Trail Tracker Kiosk
While at the park, take time to visit the eBird Trail Tracker kiosk at the Nature Inn. Through the cooperative eBird program with Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, visitors can use these kiosks as electronic gateways to bird sightings at Bald Eagle State Park. Visitors can view which birds are being reported at the park and where, record their own observations, and view photos, audio, video, and life histories of these birds. Park observation records become part of eBird, an online checklist program that scientists, birders, and anyone with Internet access can use to review bird observation information from specific locations across North America.
Information on eBird Trail Tracker and the eBird program, is on the website: www.birds.cornell.edu/is/ett
The valley, creek, mountain and state park are named for the American Indian chief Woapalanne, [wopo lonnie] which means “bald eagle.” In the mid-1700s, the Munsee Lenni Lenape chief briefly dwelled at Bald Eagles Nest, near Milesburg. The village was along the Bald Eagle Creek Path, a portion of a warriors path from New York to the Carolinas, which now is PA 150.
As one of the few navigable tributaries of the West Branch Susquehanna River, Bald Eagle Creek became a branch of the Pennsylvania Canal in the mid-1800s. Flooding destroyed the short-lived canal system and newly developed railroads replaced the canal.
These transportation systems and abundant local resources led to the building of the nearby Curtin Ironworks. Loggers cut trees from steep-sided Bald Eagle Mountain and colliers made charcoal from the wood to feed the hungry furnace. When the demand for wood products soared in the 1800s, once plentiful pine, chestnut, oak and hickory were cleared from the valley and plateaus. Farmland replaced the forest. The fertile valley continues to be cultivated. The forests of Bald Eagle Mountain have regenerated.
To reduce flood damage downstream, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the 100-foot high and 1.3-mile long Foster Joseph Sayers Dam in 1969. Bald Eagle State Park opened to the public July 4, 1971.
The dam and reservoir were named in honor of Foster Joseph Sayers, a private 1st class in World War II. Nineteen year-old Sayers, a resident of Centre County, lost his life while displaying gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat on November 12, 1944, near Thionville, France.
During an attack on hostile forces entrenched on a hill, Sayers ran up the steep approach and set up his machine gun 20 yards from the enemy. Realizing it was necessary to attract the full attention of the dug-in Germans while his company crossed an open area and flanked the enemy, he picked up his gun, charged through withering gun fire to the very edge of the German encampment and killed 12 German soldiers with devastating close-range fire. He then engaged the enemy from the flank in a heroic attempt to distract attention from his comrades as they reached the crest of the hill. He was killed by a very heavy concentration of return fire, but his fearless assault enabled his company to sweep the hill with minimum casualties, killing or capturing every enemy solider. Sayers received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
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Current volunteer opportunities at Bald Eagle State Park:
If you would like more information or are interested in one of these volunteer opportunities at Bald Eagle State Park, please contact the volunteer coordinator at email@example.com or 814-625-2775. Thank you for your interest!
Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Believing that each generation is responsible for leaving behind a better legacy of good conservation, the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) was created in 1999 to give supporters and users of Pennsylvania's parks and forests a positive way to contribute to the conservation of our publicly-owned properties. The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation welcomes the support of individuals and businesses who share a commitment to conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, scenic, and recreational areas of this commonwealth. www.paparksandforests.org
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
Do you take conservation personally? iConservePA is a Web site managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources whose vision is to inspire citizens to value their natural resources, engage in conservation practices and experience the outdoors. Take conservation personally.
Come Work with Us
Pennsylvania State Parks and the Department of Conservation and Natrual Resources offer a wide range of civil service and non-civil service jobs, from foresters, to rangers, to engineers, to educators, to botanists and so much more. Learn what is currently available.
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Bald Eagle State Park
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Explore Pennsylvania Wilds
Pennsylvania Wilds is two million acres of public lands for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, hunting, and exploration in northcentral Pennsylvania.
Highlights of the area are elk watching at the Elk Country Visitor Center, scenic PA Route 6, Pine Creek Gorge (PA Grand Canyon), the darkest skies in the east at Cherry Springs State Park, and hundreds of miles of backpacking trails, bike paths, and trout fishing streams. www.pawilds.com
Maps and Downloadables
Below are many of the maps and publications for this park. You can read them or download them and might need special software (all free) to view the publications.
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Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Lake Depth Map
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake Depth Black-and-white Map (.pdf) (17,421 kb, 8/15)
Common Birds Brochure
Common Birds of Bald Eagle State Park (.pdf) (389 kb, 3/11)
Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, is along PA 150 between Milesburg and Lock Haven.
From I-80 west, take Exit 158 to PA 150 north for about 10 miles.
From I-80 east, take Exit 178 to US 220 north, to PA 150 south for about 13 miles.
From I-99 take Exit 61 to Port Matilda, then US 220-ALT, continue onto 150 north to park.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.03464 Long. -77.65112
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Bald Eagle State Park