Blue Knob State Park
Blue Knob State Park offers year-round wilderness adventures on 6,128 acres of woodland. The park is in the northwestern tip of Bedford County, west of I-99. Altoona, Johnstown and Bedford are within 25 miles of this scenic park. The elevation of the park can cause air temperatures to be several degrees cooler than the surrounding cities. The annual snowfall averages about 12 feet. One of the unique features of the park is the solitude it provides the visitor. There are many opportunities to enjoy the quiet and refreshing serenity of the mountains and streams.
Hiking - Mountain Biking - Horseback Riding - Picnicking - Swimming - Fishing - Hunting - Education - Cross-country Skiing - Snowmobiling - Downhill Skiing - Organized Group Cabin Camps - Backpacking - Cabins - Camping
The park is open sunrise to sunset. Some facilities close at the end of the summer season, but other areas are open year-round.
Picnicking: Almost 200 picnic tables are scattered through three areas. Burnt House and Mowery Hollow picnic areas are open year-round. Willow Springs Picnic Area closes the Friday after Thanksgiving and reopens the week before Memorial Day.
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.
Make a reservation.
Swimming: Weather permitting, the swimming pool is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, unless posted otherwise. The pool is only open on weekends for the first two weeks of the summer season.
Pool depth ranges from 2-5 feet. Weekday and evening use is recommended. No diving is permitted at the pool for visitor safety.
Fishing: Trout fishing enthusiasts find excitement in fishing Bob’s Creek and its tributaries. Streams within the park contain native brook trout along with stocked trout placed through a cooperative nursery program operated by the Pavia Sportsmen Club Inc. and the park. Fishing is good April through June and in early fall. 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 5,000 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, squirrel, turkey and grouse. A topographic map of park land is available from the park office.
The park is adjacent to the 12,000-acre State Game Land 26. This combination of public lands provides many recreational opportunities and offers both easily accessible areas and several walk-in areas. “No Hunting” areas are posted. Permanent tree stands are prohibited on public lands!
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: 18 miles of trails
Please be sure to wear appropriate foot wear when hiking at Blue Knob State Park. Trails are closed for nighttime use. When you go down, you must climb up to return. A well planned hiking trip utilizes different trails to provide an extended hiking experience that covers many miles and avoids a steep return climb.
Chappells Field Trail: 2.5 miles, inverted orange V blaze, easy hiking
Crist Ridge Trail: 1.9 miles, orange blaze, easy hiking
Homestead Trail: 1.8 miles, orange blaze, easy hiking
Lost Turkey Trail: 26 miles, red blaze, difficult hiking
Mountain View Trail: 5 miles, double red blaze, difficult hiking
Access points to different sections of the trail are limited. This trail should not be used during inclement weather because fog is dense due to the higher elevation. Park along the curve approaching the ski resort along Ski Access Road.
Rock ‘N’ Ridge Trail: 2.8 miles, inverted blue T blaze, moderate hiking
Sawmill Trail: 3 miles, yellow blaze, moderate hiking
Three Springs Trail: 2 miles, orange blaze, easy hiking
Mountain Biking: Several of the park’s multi-use trails are designated for mountain bike use. For the beginner, Chappells Field Trail is a good challenge. For the more experienced, Three Springs Trail is an intermediate ride. Three Springs Trail is also open to horseback riding. Please be considerate of other trail users. For the more experienced and expert mountain biker, Crist Ridge Trail, Rock ‘N’ Ridge Trail and portions of Mountain View Trail are suggested.
Horseback Riding: Equestrian trails are marked with orange diamonds. The trailhead is across from the campground entrance at Chappells Field. Horseback riding is permitted along the right-hand side of park roads. Caution must be used on trails that pass through hunting areas. All groups conducting trail rides must secure a special use agreement.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Make a reservation.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Backpacking: Constructed in 1977 by the Youth Conservation Corps, Lost Turkey Trail is a 26-mile trail traversing state park, state forest, state game and private lands.
Distance markers are at one-kilometer intervals. Hikers should secure maps and information on parking areas, trail conditions and regulations. Many people use sections of this trail for day hikes.
Modern Cabins: Three cabins and one house are available to rent. The Fishers Haven and Bear Den cabins sleep four people. The Directors Cabin sleeps six. The cabins are available from the second Friday in April through the last weekend in October.
The Twin Fawn House sleeps eight and is available year-round.
Cabins offer electric heat, two bedrooms, living room, bathroom, and kitchen. Twin Fawn House offers three bedrooms, living room, bathroom and kitchen. Renters must supply their own bed linens and towels. A limited supply of dishes, pots and pans, and dinnerware are provided.
In the summer season, the cabins and house only rent by the week. In the off-season, the minimum rental is two days. Advance reservations are recommended.
Explore cabins for more information.
Make a reservation.
Organized Group Cabin Camp: A 100-person capacity camp is available for overnight use to organized groups from May to September. The group camp offers sleeping quarters, bathroom and shower facilities and a large dining hall/kitchen complex. Rental periods may be as short as one night. A reservation system is based on previous long-term use, priority for youth groups, length of stay and number of people. Contact the park office for additional information.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Most park trails are suitable for expert skiers. For beginner skiers, Chappells Field Trail and the closed campground are recommended. For the intermediate skier, the service roads, closed roadways and open areas are recommended. Weather conditions on the trails are usually ideal but skiers should use expert or mountain ski equipment.
Snowmobiling: Snowmobile routes are open daily after the end of hunting season in December. The trail system consists of eight miles of trails and roads and is marked with orange diamonds. Park roadways are not open for snowmobile use.
Please stay on the designated trails. No other off-road vehicles are permitted on state park lands.
Downhill Skiing: The park leases the downhill skiing area to Blue Knob Recreation, Inc., which operates Ski Blue Knob, one of the most challenging ski resorts in Pennsylvania. The area offers a vertical drop of 1,050 feet. The ski area provides snowtubing, day and night skiing, with extensive snowmaking, and a total of four chairlifts ensure a fast return to the top of the mountain. 800-458-3403 www.blueknob.com.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Summer programs are conducted on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Buck Hill Amphitheater and Sunday afternoons in the park day use areas, unless otherwise posted. Organized groups can arrange special programs through the park office. Fall and spring programs are conducted for school and organizations upon request.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Mountain Vista Bluegrass Festival
This annual special event takes place the second weekend in June. Sponsored by the Pavia Sportsmen Club Inc., there is music, educational programs, classic cars, camping, food and fun.
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.
Blue Knob State Park is named for the majestic dome-shaped mountain. At 3,146 feet above sea level, Blue Knob is the second highest mountain in Pennsylvania; 67 feet less than Mount Davis in Somerset County. Situated on a spur of the Allegheny Front and overlooking the scenic Ridge and Valley Province to the east, Blue Knob has spectacular views. Unique photographic opportunities are available during low humidity weather and with changes of season.
A northeastern view from the second highest point in Pennsylvania can be seen at the Expressway Chairlift on leased park lands operated by the ski resort.
A southeastern view can be enjoyed at the Chappells Field Area across from the campground. Included with this view is a close-up of the western slope of Blue Knob Mountain.
A southern view can be enjoyed at the Willow Spring Picnic Area.
A hike along the Mountain View Trail provides a southwestern view along the Appalachian Plateau from the Pavia Overlook.
Blue Knob State Park is a great place to see wildlife in all seasons. Here are some highlights.
Fall is an exciting time at Blue Knob. Visitors can discover wildlife and plants preparing for the coming winter season. Some animals begin to migrate, others prepare to hibernate, and others put on great displays during fall courtship. Many animals are very active, which makes them easier to observe. The vibrant colors of fall foliage usually peak in the second and third weeks of October. With an abundance of sugar and red maples, the mountain appears to be on fire due to the red and yellow leaves.
Meanwhile, oak trees produce large crops of acorns so that at least a few will escape the black bears, deer, squirrels and turkeys that are fattening up for winter. The antlers of white-tailed deer bucks mature in time for the rut. Brook trout are even more vibrant in color as they spawn in gravel areas. Many birds can be viewed migrating. Look for flocks of robins, grackles and warblers as they gather in flocks before flying south.
Blue Knob is a winter wonderland. The snow depths and length of the season are almost unmatched in Pennsylvania. While it is often difficult to see wildlife, their tracks are quite evident in the snow. Enjoy the winter wanderings of grouse, deer, turkey, coyote and fox as you follow their tracks in the snow. Small animals like mice and voles make tunnels in the deep snow. You can see deer, turkey and red-tailed hawk as they spend their day in search of food.
Spring is renewal time in Blue Knob. Sap flows back up into the trees and many animals that moved to lower elevations return to the heights of Blue Knob. Songbirds and vultures return, joining the winter inhabitants to nest in the park. A great time to see forest birds like warblers and vireos is before the leaves come out on the trees. Wildflowers rush to bloom in the sunlight before the trees get their leaves. The forest floor can be carpeted in spring beauty, violet and hepatica. In mid-April, you can hear turkey gobbles echoing off of the hillsides and grouse drumming.
In early summer, babies abound. The broods of many birds hatch and fledge, as well as young owls who are making their first flights and learning to use their voices. White-tailed deer fawns are usually born by mid-June. Black bear sightings are the highest in May and during the June to mid-July mating season, becoming shy and more secretive after that.
Songbirds can be heard singing in the forest canopy and bushes. Watch for glimpses of them as they forage for insects. Larger animals venture in to open fields at dusk to dine on tender grasses. Summer brings the most people to the park.
Remember that we are the guests and should try not to disturb the wildlife we are observing.
The first European settlers to Blue Knob arrived soon after the American Revolution. These Pennsylvania Germans moved from eastern Pennsylvania and cleared and farmed land near the fledgling town of Pavia. Early industries were several distilleries in 1812, followed by a log mill in 1833 and a gristmill in 1843.
In the late 1800s, logging companies, based out of South Fork, clear-cut the forests of hemlock and hauled away the lumber on steam railroads that snaked up the steep hillsides. The lumber company closed from November to March because the railroad could not operate in the severe winter weather.
One railroad followed Bobs Creek and needed six switchbacks to descend the rugged grade. A State Game Land 26 service road now follows this old railroad grade. Another steam railroad followed Wallacks Branch through five switchbacks. Lost Turkey Hiking Trail follows this old railroad grade.
In 1935, the National Park Service created the Blue Knob National Recreation Demonstration Area to provide recreation to the people of Altoona and Johnstown. The Works Progress Administration employed local workers to build cabins, hiking trails and roads. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (CCC) Company 2327 arrived in October of 1939. After building Camp NP-7, the young men aided in creating the park recreational facilities. World War II ended the CCC. On September 26, 1945, the National Park Service transferred Blue Knob to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and it became Blue Knob State Park.
For more information on the CCC, explore The CCC Years.
Since the CCC years, facilities of the park have been improved and new facilities built, but the park still retains its rustic, natural character.
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Becoming a Conservation Volunteer is easy.
Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
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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Blue Knob State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
Bedford County Visitors Bureau. www.bedfordcounty.net
Johnstown and Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau www.visitjohnstownpa.com
Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau. www.alleghenymountains.com
The Alleghenies www.thealleghenies.com
Lake Fishing: Within three miles of the western park boundary, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, in partnership with Highlands Sewer and Water Authority, operates the 345-acre Beaverdam Reservoir. Only electric motors are permitted on the lake. A boating access is along PA 869, west of the park. Special regulations are posted at this access point.
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.
From East or West: Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Bedford, Exit 146. Go north on I-99 to Exit 7. Follow PA 869 west to Pavia, then follow signs through Pavia to the park.
From North: Take I-99 south to Exit 23. Follow Old US 220 south. Turn right onto PA 164 west, follow to the town of Blue Knob. Turn left onto Blue Knob Road (LR 4035) follow five miles to northern entrance of the park.
From South: Take I-70 west to Breezewood, then US 30 west to Bedford, then north on I-99 to Exit 7. Follow PA 869 west to Pavia, then follow signs through Pavia to the park.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.2666 Long. -78.58376
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.
Blue Knob State Park