Keystone State Park
The 1,200-acre Keystone State Park is great for day-trips and family vacations year-round. Camping, modern cabins, many trails and a lake are all within walking distance, providing an ideal setting for wildlife watching or outdoor adventures. The park is within easy driving distance from the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, the Laurel Highlands and their many attractions.
Picnicking: Several picnic areas in the park offer picnic tables, parking, drinking water and restrooms. Two pavilions have charcoal grills, drinking water and electric outlets. Please keep these areas clean and dispose of hot charcoal in proper receptacles.
Pavilion #1 is on the north side of the lake, closer to the beach, and Pavilion #2 is below the breast of the dam. The picnic area adjacent to the boat concession offers charcoal grills and drinking water. Picnic pavilions can be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved pavilions are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Swimming: A sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please follow posted rules.
To keep this area clean and safe, no food, beverages or pets are allowed on the sand area of the beach.
Beginning in 2015, smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use this 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.
A food concession is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day when the beach is open and offers hot and cold food and a variety of sundry items.
Recycling: Keystone State Park recycles all glass, aluminum, bimetalic cans, and plastics 1 and 2. Please deposit recyclables in labeled dumpsters throughout the park.
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.
Boat Rental: Near the main boat launch on Keystone Lake, Northwest Kayak and Canoe rents boats and sells bait, basic camping supplies, firewood and ice. In the summer the concession is open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and holidays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., unless otherwise posted. 724-668-0044
Fishing: The 78-acre Keystone Lake has warm water and cold water fishing, with trout stockings throughout the year. Warmwater fish are largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, black crappie, yellow perch, carp and brown bullhead catfish. A fishing area by the spillway is ADA accessible. Fishing is prohibited at the beach, boat launches and mooring areas. Keystone Lake is a Big Bass Lake and special regulations apply.
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 half of Keystone State Park is open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, squirrel, pheasant and grouse. Hunting on the lake and surrounding area is prohibited.
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.
Bicycling: Lakeside Trail is excellent for bikes of all types. This two-mile, level trail loops around the lake on park roads and walkways. Mountain bikes must stay on park roads or gravel walkways. All other trails are foot-traffic only.
Hiking: 8 miles of trails
Davis Run Trail: 3 miles, easiest hiking
Lakeside Loop: 2.2 miles, easiest hiking
McCune Run Trail: 0.5 mile, easiest hiking
Pine Trail: 0.3 mile loop, easiest hiking
Stone Lodge Trail: 1.5 miles, easiest to more difficult hiking
Strawcutter Trail: 0.6 mile, easiest hiking
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 2 host positions
Camping Cottages: Three cottages, located in Lakeside Campground, sleep five people in bunk beds. The cottages have wooden floors, windows, electric heat, porch, picnic table, fire ring and electric lights and outlets. One cottage is ADA accessible.
Yurts: Two yurts are located in Lakeside Campground. These round, canvas and wood-walled tents have a wooden deck and sleep five people in bunk beds. Yurts have a cooking stove, microwave oven, refrigerator, countertop, table, chairs, electric heat and outlets, fire ring, picnic table and are adjacent to a water pump. One yurt is ADA accessible.
Modern Cabins: The 11 modern cabins are available year-round. They are located near the breast of the dam between the two campgrounds. The cabins sleep six people in two bedrooms, one with a double bed and another with two sets of bunk beds. Each cabin contains a modern bathroom with a shower and a kitchen with a stove, refrigerator and microwave oven. Outside is a picnic table and fire ring with grill. Visitors must bring their own kitchen, bath and bedding necessities. Cabin 11 is ADA accessible.
Explore cabins for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Skiing is permitted on park trails.
Sledding: Sledding is permitted on slopes in the park.
Ice Fishing: When conditions permit ice fishing is permitted on the 78-acre Keystone Lake.
Ice Skating: Skating is permitted on the natural ice of the lake.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
The park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs March to November. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and informational programs, participants gain an appreciation and understanding of natural and cultural resources. For a schedule of activities or to request a program, call 724-668-2566.
The ADA accessible James A. Kell Visitor Center is a historic stone lodge located in the overnight area of the park. The center contains an introduction to the history, flora and fauna of the park, educational handouts and historic artifacts.
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.
Keystone State Park hosts a wide range of plant and animal life. Stop at the visitor center for a bird checklist or to learn about the natural sites and wildlife of the area. Each season provides an opportunity to see a diversity of plants and animals.
In spring, wildflowers like hepatica, spring beauty, bloodroot, cutleaf toothwort, trout lily and rue anemone bloom before the trees leaf out. Warblers, kinglets, buffleheads, mergansers, herons, osprey and many other birds migrate through the park. Some birds only stop for a brief refueling visit, while others stay for the summer.
In summer, many young birds and mammals are born and can be seen, but be sure not to handle the wild animals. Fireflies dance and display their lights in midsummer. Frogs and insects sing a nighttime chorus in the marsh area in the eastern end of the lake. Yarrow, joe pye weed, ironweed, boneset, fire pink, goldenrods and daisies peak in late summer, providing food for butterflies.
The shorter days and cooler temperatures of autumn cause the deciduous trees to erupt with color before dropping their leaves. Birds migrate south to their winter homes. The temperature is usually perfect for hiking and exploring.
In winter, you can find animal tracks in the snow and find bird nests that are revealed after leaves have fallen from the trees. Native birds like chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches and woodpeckers travel in groups hunting for seeds and insects.
AMD Wetland Treatment System
Below the dam, across from the entrance road to the cabin colony, is the former entrance to Salem #2 Mine. This entrance has been sealed and can no longer be seen by the untrained eye. An orange liquid, called abandoned mine drainage (AMD), seeps from the mine, polluting McCune Run. Four agencies have worked together to put in an AMD Wetland Treatment System. Heavy metals and sediment are removed from the AMD as it flows through limestone-lined pipes and several ponds. The cleaned water then flows into McCune Run. A series of wayside exhibits explain the mine and the treatment system. The self-guided tour begins in the parking lot across from Pavilion #2.
It is hard to imagine, but the steel mills of Pittsburgh led to the creation of Keystone State Park. The mills needed coke, partially burned coal, to make steel. To make coke, the coal companies needed to burn coal and quickly extinguish it, thus needing large amounts of water.
In 1909, the Keystone Coal and Coke Company purchased land at the meeting of McCune and Davis runs and built a lake to supply water for washing bituminous coal and to quench the coke from their coke ovens at Salem #1 Mine. The water from Keystone Lake flowed, gravity-fed, through two miles of wooden pipes to the coal washing facility. A similar pipe is on display in the James A. Kell Visitor Center.
Executives of the company used Keystone Lake for fishing, swimming and boating. Stories abound about local residents who used the lake for recreation too, although with a wary eye out for the authorities who might chase them away for trespassing.
The company built a stone lodge to be used as a meeting place for business, as well as a hunting lodge. Executives were allotted the lodge for one week a year for family vacations. Now called the James A. Kell Visitor Center, the lodge houses mining artifacts and natural history exhibits.
In 1938, Keystone Coal and Coke Company opened Salem #2 Mine. The coal vein was between two and four feet thick, forcing the miners to work on their hands and knees. It was called a drift mine because the mine plunged horizontally into a hillside. The mine closed in 1953.
The sealed mine entrance is east of Pavilion #2 and north of the cabin entrance road. The ground underneath Hillside Campground and the cabin colony is honeycombed with miles of tunnels. A fascinating map of these tunnels is on display in the visitor center.
In 1945, the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks acquired the lake, lodge and surrounding land, and later the land by Salem #2 Mine, from the Keystone Coal and Coke Company, which is reflected in the park’s name. When visiting the tranquil forests, fields and lake, remember that Keystone State Park was born of the fires and noise of steel mills.
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.
Many volunteer opportunities exist at Keystone State Park. Volunteers play a vital role in maintaining the park’s facilities, roads and trails. We are looking for campground hosts, trail and gardening maintenance individuals, and bluebird monitors. We are also looking for help in removing invasive species, litter pick up, and with other projects that you may have an interest in. Volunteers may also help assist the environmental education staff with projects and planned events.
The park is always looking for new and motivated individuals to take part in our monthly workdays organized by park staff and the Friends of Keystone State Park. Some of our Friends of Keystone State Park meet monthly to plan and ponder ways to preserve, promote and improve the historical, natural, and recreational features and opportunities at the park. We welcome you to join us!
Contact the park’s volunteer coordinator at 724-668-2566 for details on how you can become a friend of the park.
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
To a park - find this park's address below
To a park or the Bureau of State Parks - Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation www.paparksandforests.org
Through a purchase at a park gift shop
Thank you for your support!
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.
Tell us What You Think
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Keystone State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. www.laurelhighlands.org
Forbes State Forest: Over 50,000 acres of land are open year-round for a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and snowmobiling. 724-238-1200
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.
Keystone State Park Cabin Cap (.pdf) (655 kb, 11/13)
The park is in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, three miles from the intersection of PA 981 and US 22. The park office is on SR 1018, Keystone Park Road. The campground, cabins and visitor center are on Stone Lodge Road and can be reached from Slag Road, T 860.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.37608 Long. -79.37995
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.
Keystone State Park