Locust Lake State Park
Known for its popular camping area, Locust Lake State Park nestles on the side of Locust Mountain. The 52-acre Locust Lake is located between two campgrounds and is surrounded by beautiful forests. Hiking and fishing are popular activities in the 1,772-acre park. Tuscarora State Park is nearby.
Swimming: The and 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 for swimming. Swimming areas are marked with buoys and have a maximum depth of 5 1/2 feet. Swimmers can buy food and snacks at the campstore/boat rental.
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.
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 52-acre Locust Lake is a warm-water fishery and receives several stockings of brown and brook trout annually. Pickerel, bass (largemouth and smallmouth) and panfish give anglers action in all seasons.
Fishermen who are not camping are required to use the fishermen’s parking area near the park entrance. There is an ADA accessible fishing pier by the program pavilion on the north side of the lake.
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 1,728 acres of Locust Lake State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, grouse and dove. Special regulations areas allowing only bow and arrow and flintlock muzzleloader hunting are in several areas of Locust Lake.
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 Tuscarora 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: 6.75 miles of trails
Oak/Ridge Trail: 0.75 mile, easiest hiking, white/blue blazes
Oak/Hemlock Trail: 2 miles, more difficult hiking, white/yellow blazes
Oak Loop Trail: 4 miles, most difficult hiking, white blazes
Biking: 1.3 miles of trails
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
All campsites are in a wooded area and have a parking pad, picnic table, fire ring and a cleared area for camping equipment. There are also a number of walk-in sites. Campground conveniences include modern restrooms and washhouses with shower facilities. A sanitary dump station is on the trailer side of the lake. Trash/recycling areas are on the north and south sides of the lake.
There are three play areas within the campgrounds. Two playgrounds are in the trailer loops and one is on the tent side of the lake. Playground equipment is designed for a variety of age groups
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 3 host positions
Campstore: A campstore/boat rental is near the fishermen’s launching area on the western side of the lake and has basic food and camping supplies like wood and bait, boat rentals and a public phone. www.locustlakecampstore.com
Ice Fishing: Trout and panfish are the primary species caught through the ice of the 52-acre Locust Lake. The ice thickness is not monitored.
Ice Skating: Skating is permitted on the natural lake ice. The ice thickness is not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks offer a wide variety of environmental education, recreational and interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. An environmental education specialist is available to develop EE curriculums and provide teacher workshops and additional teacher and community services. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office.
Programs are offered March to November. For more detailed information, contact 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.
There are many opportunities to see wildlife, but please observe from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.
Over 100 species of birds have been identified at Locust Lake, including 16 species of birds of prey. Because of its location in the Appalachian Mountain section of the Ridge and Valley Province, Locust Valley is positioned along the migration route used by many species of birds of prey, including red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, merlins and ospreys. Screech owls and great-horned owls are year-round residents.
Natural Resources of the Locust Valley
Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks are six miles from each other in the Locust Valley. Locust Lake is in the western side of the valley near the headwaters of Locust Creek. After meandering east six miles along Locust Mountain, Locust Creek flows into Tuscarora Lake and eventually to the Schuylkill River. Surrounded by lands that were strip-mined for coal, Locust Valley is a green oasis of forests and wetlands abounding in wildlife.
A Striking Difference
In contrast to the strip-mined lands surrounding the Locust Valley, Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks are lush forests, fields and wetlands.
Although extensively logged in the 1800s, the land is reforested with second and third growth timber. The mixed oak forest contains scattered patches of eastern hemlock and white pine, but is dominated by northern red oak, chestnut oak, white oak and other trees like sycamore, yellow birch, red maple, white ash and tulip poplar. The diversity of trees supplies food for squirrel, chipmunk, bear, deer, turkey and grouse, and provides nesting sites and cover for wildlife.
To slow soil erosion, over 110 acres of fields in Tuscarora State Park were planted with Austrian, eastern white, red and pitch pines, Japanese and European larches, Norway and white spruces, and eastern hemlocks. In 1966, about 50,000 trees of each species were planted. Look for areas where the trees are all in rows and are the same species to find these tree plantations.
A variety of smaller trees and shrubs grow under the large trees and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Ironwood and spicebush are good browse for deer. Black locust, flowering and silky dogwood, mountain laurel, rhododendron, blueberry and serviceberry have beautiful flowers and edible fruit and seeds for wildlife. Ferns, wildflowers, herbs and grasses on the forest floor provide shelter and runways for smaller animals like mice, chipmunks, snakes, salamanders and insects. Locust Lake State Park boasts 15 species of ferns and over 240 species of wildflowers.
Both state parks manage several fields for wildlife food and habitat. These meadows support a complex food web of plants, insects and animals. There are about 134 acres of open fields by the entrance of Tuscarora State Park. These old fields and upland meadows contain natural herbaceous vegetation and are managed for plant diversity by periodic mowing. Small “islands” in each area are not mowed and allowed to grow. Also, permanent brush fields are maintained for wildlife. These 96 acres are planted with cover or food for wildlife. Some of the shrubs are blueberry, huckleberry and scrub oak.
Thirty-eight acres of Locust Lake by the dam are periodically mowed to prevent natural succession by trees. Wildflowers, tall grasses and other herbaceous plants provide roots, leaves, nectar and pollen for a host of meadow-dwelling creatures. Some species of wildlife inhabiting this area are shrews, moles, meadow voles, meadow mice, butterflies and moths, and hundreds of other insect species. These insects and small animals attract the carnivores that prey on them like hawks, owls and foxes.
The edges of Locust Creek and Tuscarora and Locust lakes are riparian areas, also called wetlands. The often-wet soil is inhospitable to many plants, but sphagnum moss, rushes, burreed, skunk cabbage and cattails can only live in wetlands. This vegetation is important to the ecosystem of the lake. Plants provide food for fish and wildlife, hiding places for smaller organisms, spawning and nursery areas for fish, and contribute to the dissolved oxygen supply. Aquatic vegetation in the lakes like milifoil, coontail, cattail and curlyleaf pondweed are homes to insect larvae like dragonflies and mayflies.
Many unique animals depend on wetlands. In and around water at Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks, you can see pickerel frogs, bullfrogs, red-spotted newts, great blue herons, painted turtles, crayfish, water snakes and many fish and waterfowl.
Wetlands are not only important to plants and animals, but provide a great service to people. Wetlands slow floods and clean water and are one reason that the water in the Locust Valley is so clean
Before European Settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, a deep forest of hemlock, white pine, ash, hickory, elm, oak, cherry and American chestnut covered the Locust Valley.
The Lenni Lenape claimed the land, then it was conquered by the Susquehannocks, and finally controlled by the New York Iroquois League of Five Nations.
When settlers discovered anthracite coal in Schuylkill County, immigrants swiftly arrived for the mining jobs reaching the Locust Valley in the mid-1800s. It was not economically feasible to mine the coal in the Locust Valley, but the area did not escape the American Industrial Revolution.
The forests fell to the logger’s ax as sawmills turned the trees into lumber, shingles, tool handles and other wood products. Tanneries crushed hemlock and white pine bark for tanning leather. Colliers burned chestnuts and oaks into charcoal. Strong timbers supported the roofs of mines. The forests were gone by the early 1900s, replaced by shrubby land prone to seasonal floods and forest fires. Some farmers tilled the cleared land.
Purchased by the Marshalonis Brothers, the Locust Lake area became a fishing spot and picnic grove. When digging a lake, the brothers found a dam, boards and the hub of a waterwheel under seven feet of leaves, silt and debris. The remains of an old logging mill and dam were buried under silt from flooding and runoff caused by the removal of all of the trees for lumber during the logging era.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the Marshalonis Brothers land in 1966. Locust Lake State Park officially opened on June 10, 1972
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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.
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Locust Lake State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau. www.schuylkill.org
Tuscarora State Park is six miles from Locust Lake. Tuscarora has picnicking, swimming fishing and boating.
Weiser State Forest: Locust Lake State Park adjoins 600 acres of this state forest, which offers scenic state forest roads, foot trails, snowmobile trails and scenic overlooks. 570-385-7800
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:
Locust Lake State Park Map (.pdf) (1,886 kb, 6/13)
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.
From I-81 northbound, take Exit 131B, cross under the I-81 overpass and make an immediate left turn toward New Boston. Travel 1.1 miles to a left turn, follow signs. (Left turn is also signed.)
From I-81 southbound, take Exit 131A, left turn then travel 1.0 miles to a left turn, follow signs. (Left turn is also signed.)
GPS DD: Lat. 40.78499 Long. -76.11921
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.
Locust Lake State Park