Black Moshannon State Park
Black Moshannon State Park covers 3,394 acres of forests and wetlands that provide recreational opportunities for thousands of visitors. The park conserves unique, natural environments and is in Centre County on PA 504, nine miles east of Philipsburg. More than 43,000 acres of the Moshannon State Forest surround the park and help create a remote and wild setting.
According to local tradition, American Indians called this watershed “Moss-Hanne,” meaning “moose stream,” thus the origin of the park’s name. Appropriately, the “black” in the park name describes the tea-colored waters. The 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake is fed by clear springs and small streams which flow through the bogs that stretch in most directions from its shores. As the clear water flows through sphagnum moss and other wetland plants, it becomes colored by plant tannins. In a sense, the bog vegetation acts like a giant teabag to color the water.
Hiking - Horseback Riding - Mountain Biking - Picnicking - Swimming - Boating - Fishing - Hunting - Education - Cross-country Skiing - Snowmobiling - Ice Fishing - Ice Skating - Iceboating - Organized Group Tenting - Deluxe Camping Cottages - Cabins - Camping
Picnicking: There are 250 picnic tables provided in four picnic areas. Eight picnic pavilions, some with electricity, may be reserved for a fee, or when unreserved, may be used on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge. ADA accessible pavilions and tables are available.
Swimming: The ADA accessible sand 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.
GPS: Lat. 40.91622 Long. -78.05909
Beginning in 2015, smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use the beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes or other handheld, lighted smoking devices.
Explore swimming for more information.
Concessions: An ADA accessible boat rental, a park store and a refreshment stand provide services to park visitors.
Boating: electric motors only
The 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake has 90 mooring spaces and three boat launch areas. Boat rentals are available in the summer season. Boating Area 1 is ADA accessible. The use of gas powered motors is prohibited.
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.
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.
Fishing: The 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake provides habitat for warm water fishing. Below the lake, Black Moshannon Creek contains trout. Trout anglers can enjoy their sport in several nearby streams, especially Six Mile Run. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations apply. A Delayed Harvest – Artificial Lures Only area is designated on 1.3 miles of Black Moshannon Creek from the state park boundary downstream to 0.3 mile downstream of the Huckleberry Road bridge. An ADA accessible fishing pier is on the western shore of the lake.
Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Over 3,000 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs from the day after Labor Day through March 31. Common game species are deer, wild turkey, bear, grouse and squirrel. Adjacent state forest land is also open for public hunting.
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.
Mountain Biking: Sleepy Hollow and Star Mill trails offer convenient, short loops to bikers. Snowmobile Trail provides access to additional trails on state forest land for mountain bikes. State forest roads (unpaved) are also open to biking. Ski Slope Trail provides a challenge to mountain bikers. Biking is prohibited on other park trails.
Horseback Riding: Snowmobile Trail provides access to many miles of equestrian trails in Moshannon State Forest.
Hiking: 20 miles of trails
Hay Road Trail: 1.1 miles, easiest hiking
Seneca Trail: 0.8 mile, easiest hiking
Indian Trail: 1 mile, more difficult hiking
Bog Trail: 0.3 mile, 0.5 mile full loop, easiest hiking
Lake Loop Trail: 0.7 mile, easiest hiking
Moss-Hanne Trail: 7.7 miles, 11 miles full loop, more difficult hiking
Star Mill Trail: 2.1-mile loop, easiest hiking
Ski Slope Trail: 2 miles, most difficult hiking
Sleepy Hollow Trail: 1.2-mile loop, more difficult hiking
Tent Hill Trail: 0.2 mile, more difficult hiking
Snowmobile Trail: 1.1 miles, easiest hiking
Shingle Mill Trail: 2 miles, 4 miles full loop, more difficult hiking
Blueberry Trail: 1 mile loop, easiest hiking
Allegheny Front Trail: This trail encircles the park, traversing 40 miles of the Allegheny Plateau, some rocky and rugged, on the way to five mountain trout streams and eleven vistas in the Moshannon State Forest. It’s ideal for backpacking or a day hike on any segment. There is an optional sign-in for backpackers at the park office. alleghenyfronttrail.info
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups
GPS: Lat. 40.91878 Long. -78.06863
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Deluxe Camping Cottages: Two deluxe cottages are available from the second Friday in April until the end of deer season in mid-December. The deluxe cottages have minimal furnishings; kitchen stove top, refrigerator, microwave oven, electric heat, lighting and bunk beds. There is no running water in these deluxe cottages. However, there is a restroom and shower facility for shared use. Cranberry Cottage is ADA accessible.
Modern and Rustic Cabins: From the second Friday in April until the end of deer season in mid-December, the park rents 13 rustic cabins. Rustic cabin 14 is ADA accessible and available year round. The cabins have minimal furnishings, kitchen stove, refrigerator, electric lights, a wood burning stove and bunk beds. Six modern cabins are available year-round, complete with electric heat, bedrooms, living/dining room, kitchen and bath. Renters must supply their own bed linens, towels, dishes, pots, pans and dinnerware. Cabins are available for weekly rental in summer and for a 2-night minimum during other seasons. Modern cabins 16 and 20 are ADA accessible.
GPS: Lat. 40.91321 Long. -78.0662
Explore cabins for more information.
Organized Group Tenting: Adult or youth groups of up to 60 people may reserve the rustic group tenting area, which has flush toilets, but no showers.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Cross-country Skiing: All trails are open to cross-country skiers. Trails marked with the cross-country skier symbol on the map are recommended.
Snowmobiling: Registered snowmobiles may use Benner Run Road, Shirks Road, Snowmobile Trail, the Food Concession Road, a small portion of the Sleepy Hollow Trail (for access to cabin area) and designated trails in the state forest after the end of deer season in late December.
Ice Fishing: Except for the ice skating area, all of the 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake is open for ice fishing. Popular species caught through the ice are yellow perch, bluegill, northern pike, crappie, and largemouth bass. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Ice Skating: When conditions allow, an area of the lake is maintained for skating by Boating Area 1.
Iceboating: Most of the lake is open for iceboating. A state park launch permit is required for iceboats. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Use extreme caution when venturing onto the ice. Check with the park office to determine ice conditions in the skating area. Other areas of the lake are not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Families, individuals, schools and special request groups participate in the park’s environmental interpretive programs. Bog walks and stream studies provide understanding of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and human influences. Obtain program schedules at the park office.
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
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The wildlife you observe depends greatly on the habitat types you visit and your observation techniques. Look for wildlife in the wealth of different woodland and wetland types, shorelines and along edges where one habitat borders another. Mornings and evenings, when many animals are active, are great times for viewing many species. Be quiet and leave pets at home. Walking slowly along trails, like Star Mill and Sleepy Hollow, is best, especially to see songbirds. Relish luck and the unexpected. Reading wildlife signs, such as tracks and droppings, can add to your enjoyment. Take part in park environmental interpretive programs or use a wildlife watching book to enhance your understanding and skill.
Feeding wildlife is prohibited. Feeding makes wild animals lose their natural fear of people and makes them more dependent on people. Therefore, potentially dangerous situations can arise.
PLEASE NOTE: Black bears are present at Black Moshannon and can cause injuries or damage to equipment. Canada geese create unpleasant and unsanitary conditions when they leave droppings in the same place each day. We ask your cooperation in managing the wildlife in the park. For safety, campers should store food in their trunk or camper, but not in a tent. Keep the wild in wildlife. Please don’t feed wildlife.
The Lake is worth exploring, especially the upper (southern) end, by boat or by walking Bog or Star Mill trails. Enjoy the flying stunts of barn and tree swallows from Lake Loop Trail, or look for mallards, Canada goose, beaver, muskrat, great blue heron or secretive wood ducks. Spring and fall are great times to observe migrating loon, merganser, scaup, bufflehead, grebe, tundra swan or snow goose. Rafts of fragrant water lilies, watershield and spatterdock on the lake shelter tadpoles, sunfish, catfish, perch, pickerel and bass in the waters below.
The park is known for spectacular Bogs, Marshes and Swamps. Discover wetlands by walking the Bog and Moss-Hanne trails. You’ll see leatherleaf, blueberries and sedges. Look for carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plant and sundew, other unusual wildflowers and colorful damsel and dragonflies. You may encounter frogs, salamanders, a northern water snake or a black bear. Since many birds make their summer homes only in wetland habitats, birdwatching is especially worthwhile. For this reason, the National Audubon Society designated the park as an Important Bird Area.
Forest visitors see chipmunks, songbirds and, in clearings at dusk, bats. The more observant may see deer, raccoon, opossum, porcupine, flying squirrel, woodpeckers, turkey, grouse and hawks. Occasionally, visitors come upon fox, weasel, bobcat, coyote and raven. Creekside explorers on Shingle Mill Trail may see kingfisher, salamanders, crayfish and trout.
Spring brings out woodland wildflowers. Mountain laurel blooms in mid to late June; look along the Ski Slope trail. In late September to early October exploding fall colors paint Black Moshannon in autumn’s glory.
Discover the Bog Environment
In 1994, Pennsylvania gave additional protection to a 1,592-acre collection of unique and scenic bogs, marshes, swamps and forests by designating it as the Black Moshannon Bog Natural Area. This special area is one of the best examples of a bog ecosystem in the Allegheny Plateau region. Its designation as a State Park Natural Area assures that its ecological values are preserved.
Bogs are freshwater wetlands with lots of sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss absorbs water like a big sponge. Dead sphagnum moss decomposes so slowly that layers build, forming the familiar peat moss under the living sphagnum.
While many bogs in Pennsylvania were formed as glaciers retreated, leaving behind poorly draining soil and huge blocks of ice that formed kettles, this is not the cause of Black Moshannon’s bog which is located in the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Here, sloping bedrock directs water from the surrounding hills into the bog area. The shallow groundwater table makes the soil wetter than usual.
The bog’s sphagnum moss creates acidic and low nutrient conditions. When these factors combine with cool temperatures, only specialized plants can thrive. Seventeen species of orchids and all three carnivorous plants found in Pennsylvania grow in or near the bog. Bog visitors are also treated to a sea of sedges and leatherleaf shrubs, fuzzy tufts of arctic cotton grass, multi-colored viburnums, cranberries and blueberries. Those looking for wildlife may see amphibians, beaver and uncommon birds.
A great way to explore these natural areas is to hike the Star-Mill Trail or Bog Trail. Those who like boating can investigate the wilder, upper end of the lake by canoe. The more adventurous can hike the Moss-Hanne Trail.
Explore natural areas for more information.
What a Cool Place
Black Moshannon State Park is high atop the Allegheny Front. Enjoy cool summer days and excellent winter activity conditions made possible by the unique geology of the park. Two features chill the park: high elevation and a slight basin shape that traps cooler, heavier air. Because of this, many plants and animals (leatherleaf, Canada warbler) normally only observed farther north can be seen here near the southern edge of their range.
Human use of this area has always been reflected in the use of Black Moshannon’s water. The Seneca Indians hunted, traded and fished here when the present lake was a string of beaver ponds. By 1821, the Philadelphia-Erie Pike (now PA 504) opened, and settlement began with the establishment of the Antes House, a tavern, near the present bridge. This substantial hotel hosted weary travelers, pioneers and sheep and cattle drovers making their way across the steep Allegheny Front.
Towering white pines and hemlocks once covered the surrounding slopes and the dense foliage blocked out the sun, making it dark even on sunny days. Weathered stumps now mark where the Beaver Mill Lumber Company cut these trees about a century ago. Some beaver ponds disappeared when loggers constructed a splash dam near the site of the present dam. The water from the splash dam was used to flush logs downstream. Eventually the logs floated down the Susquehanna River to mills in Williamsport. In one year, the Beaver Mill Lumber Company floated over 11 million feet of logs, the largest amount put in by any single logger in Pennsylvania. Some wood was processed at a shingle mill, located below the present beach.
By 1879, timber was cut at the steam powered Star Mill, once located at the north end of Star Mill Trail. The mill boasted 20 saws, a planer and a shingle mill. It was supported by 150 teams of horses and mules and a second village called Beaver Mills located near Shirk’s Run at the south end of the park. When Star Mill operated, the dam was changed again to a mill pond to store logs. Before the turn of the 20th century, Beaver Mills and Antes featured a large general store, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, mills, stables, a hotel-tavern, a schoolhouse and a 10-pin alley! The schoolhouse still stands near the food concession. The rugged people of the area helped meet the nation’s growing need for timber for mining, railroads and construction. Some thought the timber supply would never end.
It did end, for a while. As the supply of timber decreased, lumber companies moved. The denuded landscape fell prey to fires and erosion. The job market collapsed.
In an effort to restore the land, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania bought thousands of acres of burnt and desolate land. Pennsylvania set a path to reforestation through the establishment of the state forest system, one that now includes Moshannon State Forest.
To relieve unemployment during the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933. By May of that year, the Beaver Meadow CCC Camp, located near the abandoned Beaver Mills, became one of the first to open. It put over 200 young men to work conserving timber, water and soil. They built roads to aid forest fire fighting and planted trees to help reforest the land. Their achievements were lasting. You may travel CCC roads today, or hike among the rows of red pines the CCC boys planted.
Next, the CCC boys built park facilities that visitors still enjoy, including log cabins, food concession, picnic pavilions and some trails. The use of Black Moshannon water changed again. The CCC even constructed a new dam to provide swimming, boating, fishing and a centerpiece for relaxation.
For more information on the CCC explore the CCC Years.
Keep in Touch
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Like to spend time in the outdoors, meet friendly people and help make Pennsylvania State Parks great? Volunteering at a park might be for you.
Becoming a Conservation Volunteer is easy.
Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Volunteer opportunities abound at Black Moshannon. If youve got an itch to be outdoors and doing something constructive, then please give us a call. We have needs in areas such as: Gardening (spring, summer, fall); Landscaping (spring, fall); Painting (spring, summer, fall); Litter Removal (all ages, spring, summer, fall); Wood Duck Box Monitor (spring, summer); Trail Projects (spring, summer fall); Special Skills - Photography, Historical Research, Artwork, Computer; Simple Construction - fencing, bat houses, bike racks, path lighting, Osprey nest box; Environmental Education and Interpretation - Activity Leaders (spring, fall), Guest Program Presenters (summer), Environmental Learning Center (ELC Bldg.) weekend volunteer; exhibit repair and/or construction. Special events like Earth Day, Annual Summer Festival, Lumber Day, Public Lands Care Day, and Winter Festival. Volunteers play a critical role in maintaining all the areas that need that personal touch. Give us a call and come on out to Black Moshannon State Park.
Join a Friends Group
The Friends of Black Moshannon State Park is volunteer-operated and staffed group is dedicated to the betterment, preservation and enjoyment of Black Moshannon State Park. website
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
Make a Donation
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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 Natural 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.
Tell us What You Think
Contact this park with compliments, concerns and issues about the park.
Black Moshannon State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau www.centralpacvb.org
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:
Black Moshannon State Park Map (.pdf) (1,116 kb, 5/13)
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.
Black Moshannon State Park Cabin Map (.pdf) (1,478 kb, 4/15)
Black Moshannon State Park Bird Checklist (.pdf) (1,961 kb, 3/11)
Common Birds Brochure
Common Birds of Black Moshannon State Park (.pdf) (352 kb, 3/11)
From South and Southeast: Take US 322 west, then Exit 68 west of State College. Stay right and continue 6 miles. Take ramp on right to Alt. US 220 north for 5 miles. Turn left at park sign in village of Julian to take Beaver Road for 8 miles to the park.
From Northeast: Take I-80 west to Milesburg Exit 158, then Alt. US 220 south for 6 miles. Turn right onto PA 504 west for 12 miles to the park.
From Northwest: Take I-80 east to Kylertown Exit 133. Turn left onto PA 53 for 0.8 mile (through traffic light). At the park sign, turn right onto Windburne Road. 9 miles to the park.
From Southwest: From Philipsburg, follow US 322 east. Turn left onto PA 504 and travel 8 miles to the park.
From South: Take I-99 north to exit at Port Matilda. Turn right at end of ramp. In 1/2 mile, turn left at traffic light, then 8 miles on Alt. US 220 (Eagle Valley Road). Turn left at park sign in village of Julian to take Beaver Road 8 miles to park.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.9122 Long. -78.05690
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.
Black Moshannon State Park