Hills Creek State Park
Located in scenic Tioga County, the 407-acre Hills Creek State Park abounds in wildlife. Osprey, loon and waterfowl visit the lake that boasts a variety of warm-water fish species. Camping, cabins, swimming and picnicking make this an ideal spot for a family vacation.
Picnicking: There are two picnic areas and three reservable picnic pavilions. Picnic Area No. 1 is at the south end of the lake near the breast of the dam. Picnic Area No. 2 is just north of the swimming beach along a large cove of the lake.
The picnic areas have picnic tables, charcoal grills, picnic pavilion, centrally located drinking fountains and modern comfort stations. The picnic areas are open year-round, but all other day use facilities are closed seasonally. 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.
Snack Bar: In the day use area, on a hill overlooking the lake and beach, the concession offers a wide variety of food like hamburgers, sandwiches, candy, ice cream, and drinks. It also has milk, camping supplies, firewood and fishing bait. The concession is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, weather permitting. For information concerning the concession operations, call 570-724-2992, or the park office at 570-724-4246.
Swimming: A sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. The sandy lake bottom and grass beach are quite popular. The modern bathhouse and snackbar is nearby and open seasonally.
Explore swimming for more information.
Boating: electric motors only
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 warm waters of the 137-acre Hills Creek Lake provide excellent fishing for warm-water species. Common fish are muskellunge, walleye, largemouth bass, carp, bullhead catfish, bluegill, crappie and yellow perch. The lake record for largemouth bass is just over eight pounds. A fishing pier for people with disabilities is at the Pines Boat Launch. A valid PA fishing license is required.
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: With the abundance of both large and small game in the area and the additional bonus of 13,000 acres of rugged State Game Land 37 within walking distance of the park, it is easy to understand why hunting and trapping are popular around the park. Hills Creek State Park is closed to hunting because of its small size, but there is an abundance of nearby public lands available for this popular sport.
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.
Hiking: 5.5 miles of trails
Lake Side Trail - 3 miles - Beginning at the entrance to the camping area this trail follows the lake shore in a westerly direction for about one mile, finally arriving at the Beaver Hut Boating Area. A beaver house plus many signs of beaver activity may be seen in this area. From the boating area the trail generally follows the lake shore in a southerly direction for about one mile, ending at the dam breast of Hills Creek Lake. This section of the trail offers an excellent variety of bird life attracted by seeds from white spruce, red-osier dogwood and viburnums that dominate this moist area. The trail then parallels the park road through Picnic Area No. 1 and passes the park office. It ends at a parking lot beyond the gate on the main entrance road, a distance of about 0.5-mile.
Tauschers Trail - 1.5-miles - This trail circles the northeast section of the park from the cabin area. It winds through pine plantations, dense stands of alder and fields containing numerous wildflowers. Wildlife abounds in this section of the park and it is not uncommon to startle deer or grouse along the trail.
Yellow Birch Trail - 1-mile - This trail starts at the entrance to the camping area but travels in an easterly direction for about one mile. Although short in length, this trail leads through a diversity of forest habitats from stands of hardwoods to hemlock swamps and marsh areas. The observant hiker may see a variety of wildlife and animal signs along with interesting tree development.
Northern Extension of the Mid State Trail - This long-distance backpacking trail passes through the park and connects to the main trail.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Camping Cottages: Three cottages sleep five people in single bunks and double/single bunks, and have wooden floors, windows, electric heat, porch, picnic table, fire ring and electric lights and outlets.
Yurts: These Mongolian-style tents are round, on a wooden deck and sleep four people in two bunk beds. Yurts have a cooking stove, refrigerator, countertop, table, chairs, electric heat and outlets, fire ring, picnic table and are adjacent to a water pump.
Modern Cabins: Ten modern cabins can be rented year-round. Cabins are furnished and have a living area, kitchen/dining area, shower and two bedrooms. Cabin seven is ADA accessible. Cabin renters should bring their own linens and kitchen utensils. Weekly reservations are required during the summer. In 2014, up to two dogs will be permitted in cabins 1 and 2 for a fee.
Explore cabins for more information.
Organized Group Tenting: Qualified adult and youth groups may use this 40-person capacity area equipped with picnic tables, pavilion, fire rings, water and flush toilets. Campers may shower in the campground. This wooded peninsula is open from the second Friday in April to the third Sunday in October, weather permitting. Advance reservations are recommended. Some of the larger hemlock, beech, maple and ash trees in the park are found on this very picturesque peninsula.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Skiing is permitted on trails and open areas of the park.
Sledding: A hill at the beach is good for sledding with adequate snow cover.
Ice Fishing: Ice fishing success in the 137-acre Hills Creek Lake is exceptional for yellow perch, bluegill and an occasional walleye. Be safety conscious when on the ice.
Ice Skating: Ice skating is permitted at the beach on the natural ice of the lake. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
The park operates a seasonal visitor center in the camping area. A variety of interpretive programs are offered year-round.
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.
Wildlife abounds in and around Hills Creek State Park. Along with an active beaver colony, there are other water-loving creatures including muskrat, wood duck, great blue heron and osprey. Bald eagles are frequent visitors to the park.
Visitors may see transient black bear, wild turkey, or deer. Hills Creek is also a perfect habitat for rabbit, grouse, pileated woodpecker and woodchuck.
In the spring, Hills Creek Lake becomes home to migrating waterfowl like loon, bufflehead, and common merganser.
Hills Creek Lake
The focal point of the park is a 137-acre lake developed by impounding Hills Creek. The earth dam, built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is 34 feet high and 422 feet long. The basin of Hills Creek Lake is long and narrow ending in an irregular triangle at the north end. The elevation is 1,486 feet and the nearby mountains rise to an elevation of 2,200 feet.
The temperatures and chemical characterizations of the lake support a good warm-water fishery.
The general area now covered by water has almost continually, since the end of the last ice age, been under the influence of beaver dams and beavers. Beavers still abound in the area, including in Hills Creek Lake. The depth of the beaver marsh (vegetation and sediment) is as great as 20 feet deep.
The land, originally known as Kellys Swamp, was purchased in 1950. Within this swamp, at the present location of the swimming beach, was a small mine from which pigment for the paint industry was extracted. The park opened in 1953 and is named for the creek that runs through it. The stream was named after Captain William Hill who settled in the area around 1820.
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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.
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Hills Creek State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Tioga County Visitors Bureau. www.visittiogapa.com
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recreational facilities around the Tioga and Hammond dams that are six miles north of the park. Also, Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks (the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon) are 18 miles west of Hills Creek.
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.
Hills Creek State Park Cabin Map (.pdf) (800 kb, 10/13)
Lake Depth Map
Common Birds Brochure
Common Birds of Hills Creek State Park (.pdf) (409 kb, 3/11)
Hills Creek State Park, in northcentral Tioga County, is just north of US 6 and midway between Wellsboro and Mansfield. The park is also reached from PA 287 between the towns of Tioga and Wellsboro.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.80422 Long. -77.19086
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.
Hills Creek State Park