Ole Bull State Park
Ole Bull State Park consists of 132 acres along the Kettle Creek Valley in Potter County. This area is called the Black Forest because of its once dense tree cover, mountainous terrain, and wilderness habitat.
Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. The park office is open specific hours. The beach, overnight areas, and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours.
Picnicking: The picnic area lies along Kettle Creek and has four picnic pavilions, picnic tables, fireplaces, drinking water, restrooms and playground equipment. 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. The Stone Pavilion has electricity available when reserved.
Swimming: The beach is in Camping Area 1 across from the picnic area. The 150-foot sandy beach along Kettle Creek 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. Parking for the beach area is provided at the picnic area parking lot. Pets are not permitted in the beach area. All children ten years of age or younger must be accompanied by a person at least 14 years of age.
Explore swimming for more information.
Fishing: The excellent water quality along Kettle Creek provides good fishing. Both Kettle Creek and Ole Bull Run offer fishing for brook, brown and rainbow trout. A special regulation area for children and people with disabilities is located below the dam breast to the fordway. Fishing is prohibited between the wires at the dam basin and swimming area. Fishing licenses are required and are available nearby at several issuing agents.
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 25 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, grouse, bear and squirrel. Hunting is permitted in the surrounding Susquehannock State Forest.
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 vehicle or enclosed trailer. 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: 5 miles of trails
The Daugherty Loop Trail combines old logging and railroad grades to form a one hour walk through the Black Forest of Pennsylvania. Ole Bull Trail leads to the historic foundation remains of Ole Bull’s “home site” and a panoramic view of the park area. The Beaver Dam Nature Trail provides an introduction to the habitats along Kettle Creek. This 0.75-mile trail starts at the concrete fordway and has a flat trail surface.
The 85-mile Susquehannock Trail System passes through Ole Bull State Park. A picnic area parking lot serves as a trailhead for overnight hikers. A trail register is located at the park office for hikers who leave their vehicles overnight. Please read posted regulations.
Mountain Biking: Trails in the park and in Susquehannock State Forest are open to mountain biking.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host positions
Ole Bull Cabin: This one and one-half story log cabin can be rented year-round. Rental information can be obtained at the park office. The cabin has a modern, accessible kitchen, two baths and sleeps 12 people in three bedrooms. Pets are prohibited. The cabin has an accessible bathroom and an access ramp.
Explore cabins for more information.
The park provides parking, restrooms and picnic and camping facilities throughout the winter.
Explore theWinter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: In addition to a groomed cross-country skiing trail, cross-country skiers and snowshoers are allowed throughout the park.
Snowmobiling: A snowmobile trailhead provides access to the many miles of state forest trails. Snowmobiles are permitted on marked trails only.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
During the summer months, the park has an environmental interpretor who presents programs on the history and natural resources of the area. The programs include guided walks, children’s programs and evening campfire programs. Please contact the park office for special request educational programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.
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.
Ole Bull State Park is named for Ole Bornemann Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist who toured the United States in the 1850s. In 1852, Ole Bull purchased a large tract of land in Potter County and attempted to develop a series of Norwegian settlements.
He began construction of a “home” at what now is called Ole Bull Vista. He never finished this large, wooden cabin. After a year of severe hardships, the majority of the colony disbanded and moved west into Michigan and Wisconsin. A complete history of Ole Bull is available at the park office. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has an extensive history on their website. Ole Bull's New Norway
The lumbering industry followed Ole Bull into the area. By the turn of the 20th century, two railroads, one on each side of Kettle Creek, were hauling logs to sawmills in the Cross Fork area. By 1920, the Commonwealth purchased vast tracts of land no longer useful to the lumber companies. In 1925, Ole Bull State Park was opened as a picnic area on a one-half acre tract of cleared land.
Formed in the 1930s to alleviate the severity of the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the original dam for the swimming area and constructed facilities like latrines, pavilions and camping areas.
For more information on the CCC explore the CCC Years.
In 2002, the 150th anniversary of the founding of Ole Bull's colony, a monument was erected to honor Ole Bull. The monument was a gift from the citizens of Norway in recognition of Ole Bull's talent, foresight and patriotism.
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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 Natural 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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Ole Bull State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Potter County Visitors Association. www.pottercountypa.org
Susquehannock State Forest: This 262,415-acre state forest surrounds Ole Bull State Park and offers hiking, including the Susquehannock and Black Forest trail systems and snowmobile trails. 814-274-3600
Denton Hill State Park: Ski area along US 6, ten miles west of Galeton. 814-435-2115
Kettle Creek State Park: 20 miles southwest and offers a 160-acre lake, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, and hiking. 570-923-6004
Lyman Run State Park: 25 miles northeast and offers fishing, camping facilities, boating and ATV and hiking trailheads. 814-435-5010
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum: Along US 6, ten miles west of Galeton. 814-435-2652
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
The nearest gas station, store and gift shop are one mile north of the park along PA 144 at Oleana. Cross Fork is eight miles south along PA 144 with a variety of services available.
Service garages, shopping areas, laundry facilities and restaurants are along PA 144 north or south in Germania, Galeton, Tamarack and Renovo.
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.
The park is along PA 144, 18 miles south of Galeton and 26 miles north of Renovo.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.53712 Long. -77.71544
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.
Ole Bull State Park