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 and its 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.
Pavilion One is on the north side of the lake (closer to the beach) and Pavilion Two is below the breast of the dam. The picnic grove offers charcoal grills and drinking water and is adjacent to the boat concession. 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. Please keep these areas clean and dispose of hot charcoal in proper receptacles.
Make a reservation.
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.
A food concessionaire operates out of the Beach House Complex, which is across the road from the park office. The hours of operation during the summer months are 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The food concessionaire offers a wide variety of food items, drinks and miscellaneous items for sale. Delivery is available for firewood and ice to all overnight facilities. Call 724-572-1156 for delivery of these 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.
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 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays, unless otherwise posted. 724-668-0044
Fishing: The 78-acre Keystone Lake has warm and cold water fishing, with trout stockings throughout the year. Warm-water fish are largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, northern pike, 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. Abandoned mine drainage limits the fishing quality in the stream below the dam.
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. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Biking: 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: 6 miles of trails
Davis Run Trail (easy hiking) is a 2.5-mile trail that meanders through wetlands before reaching an upland forest of mixed conifers and mature hardwoods. Along part of the trail the conifers form a scenic tunnel.
Lake Side Trail (easy hiking) is a 2-mile loop around the lake on park roads and walkways. This scenic and fairly level path offers an excellent view of waterfowl and other aquatic life. Bikes are permitted.
McCune Run Trail (easy hiking) is a short trail that leads to an abandoned beaver pond and a wetland meadow. The trail crosses over the remnants of an old beaver dam and connects to Davis Run Trail.
Pine Trail (easy hiking) is a short loop trail through plantations of red, white and table-mountain pine trees. About halfway through the trail, hikers can view farm fields and large chestnut oak trees.
Stone Lodge Trail (easy to moderate hiking) is a 1.4-mile path that starts from the James A. Kell Visitor Center parking lot. This challenging walk starts with a fairly steep climb that winds through hardwoods to ridgetop conifers. With a keen eye you can find remnants of an old springhouse and homestead, nearby large hemlock trees.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Make a reservation.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 2 host positions
Camping Cottages: The three camping cottages are in Lakeside Campground and have wooden walls and floors, windows, bunk beds, electric lights and outlets, and a porch. A cottage sleeps five people. One cottage is ADA accessible.
Make a reservation.
Yurts: Located in Lakeside Campground, the two Mongolian-style tents are round, on a wooden deck and have a cooking stove, refrigerator, countertop, table, chairs, bunk beds, electric heat and outlets, fire ring, picnic table and adjacent water pump. A yurt sleeps four people. One yurt is ADA accessible.
Make a reservation.
Modern Cabins: The 11 modern cabins are available for rent year-round. These cabins are 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 has a modern bathroom with shower, kitchen with stove, refrigerator and microwave, and 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 the cabin map.
Explore cabins for more information.
Make a reservation.
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
An environmental education specialist offers programs year-round. In the summer months, interpretive nature programs are available to campers and the general public. In the spring, fall and winter there are environmental education programs for school students and scout groups, as well as interpretive programs for the general public. For a schedule of activities or to request a special program, call 724-668-2566.
The ADA accessible James A. Kell Visitor Center is in the overnight area of the park. This historic stone lodge has an introduction to the history, flora and fauna of the park, with a number of interactive displays, 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.
There are many opportunities to see wildlife, but please observe from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife. Keystone State Park hosts a wide range of plant and animal life. These natural attractions offer an exciting adventure for visitors willing to sit, watch and listen for these hidden wonders. Stop at the visitor center for a bird checklist or to learn about the natural sites and wildlife of the area.
Keystone State Park has wildlife watching opportunities in every season.
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, but 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 shortening days and cooler temperatures of autumn cause the deciduous trees to drop their leaves, but first the trees erupt with color. 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’s nests that are revealed after the leaves fall 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 closed-up entrance to Salem # 2 Mine. 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. The AMD flows through limestone lined pipes and through several ponds, which removes alkalinity, heavy metals and sediment, before releasing the cleaner water into McCune Run. A series of wayside exhibits explain the mine and the treatment system. The self-guiding tour begins in the parking lot across from Pavilion Two.
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, and so needed water, lots of water.
In 1909, the Keystone Coal and Coke Company purchased land at the meeting of McClure and Davis runs to build a lake that would supply water for washing bituminous coal and to quench the coke from their coke ovens at Salem Mine One. The water from Keystone Lake flowed, gravity fed, through two miles of wooden pipes to the mine. One of those pipes is currently 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 a meeting place for business, and 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 historical exhibits.
In 1938, Keystone Coal and Coke Company began Salem Two Mine. The coal vein was between two and four feet thick, forcing the miners to work on their hands and knees. Because the mine plunged horizontally into a hillside, it was a drift mine. Salem Two Mine closed in 1953.
Keen-eyed visitors can still see the sealed mine entrance, which is east of Picnic Pavilion Two 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 Mine Two, from 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.
You must have the free Adobe Reader to view the maps and brochures that are in pdf format (.pdf).
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) (39 kb, 3/11)
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 and cabins are on Stone Lodge Road and can be reached from Slag Road (T 860).
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