Parker Dam State Park

The 968-acre Parker Dam State Park offers old-fashioned charm and character. A scenic lake, rustic cabins, quaint campground and unbounded forest make Parker Dam an ideal spot for a relaxing vacation. For wilderness explorers, Parker Dam is a gateway to the vast expanses of Moshannon State Forest. You can walk through recovering tornado ravaged woods, backpack into the 50,000-acre Quehanna Wilderness, mountain bike to your heart’s content or enjoy quiet solitude searching for elusive Pennsylvania elk.

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Hiking   -  Picnicking   -  Swimming   -  Boating   -  Fishing   -  Hunting   -  Mountain Biking   -  Orienteering   -  Geocaching   -  Education   -  Snowshoeing   -  Sledding   -  Snowmobiling   -  Ice Fishing   -  Ice Skating   -  Cross-country Skiing   -  Cabin Classroom   -  Organized Group Tenting   -  Cabins   -  Camping

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.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Picnicking: Many picnic tables are scattered through a mostly wooded area. Charcoal grills, restrooms and drinking fountains are nearby. Of the seven picnic pavilions, five have lights and electric outlets. Choose from modern, open pavilions or cozy, stone, CCC-built pavilions. Each picnic pavilion holds about 75 people. 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 pavilion brochure has details on the pavilions.

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Swimming: The beautiful sand 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. The maximum water depth is five feet at the buoy line.

Smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use the beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and other handheld, lighted smoking devices.

Explore swimming for more information.

A food and refreshment concession and camp store are open daily, weather permitting, during the summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The reds, oranges and yellows of autumn-colored trees line the lake at Parker Dam State Park, Pennsylvania.Boating: electric motors only
The 20-acre Parker Lake has courtesy mooring spaces for overnight guests. A seasonal boat concession rents paddleboats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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 20-acre Parker Lake and many trout streams are popular with anglers throughout the year. Brook trout are stocked in the spring, fall and winter. Anglers also can catch largemouth bass, bluegill and brown bullhead.

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.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hunting and Firearms: About 807 acres of the park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, grouse, bear, rabbit and squirrel.

Hunting is also available on over 180,000 acres of surrounding Moshannon 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.

Mountain Biking: Beaver Dam Trail, Skunk Trail and Fairview Road are multi-use trails that lead to many more miles of mountain biking trails in the surrounding Moshannon State Forest.

A hiker ambles up a leaf-lined trail at Parker Dam State Park, Pennsylvania.Hiking: 16 miles of trails
Many hiking trails begin or pass through Parker Dam State Park and continue into the surrounding Moshannon State Forest. Some trails travel through the tornado blowdown, while others follow along streams or through hardwood forests. Hike the Trail of New Giants and then Souder Trail to compare a young forest to a mature forest.

Abbot Hollow Trail: 1.7 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Explore a wilderness valley devastated by a tornado in 1985, then salvage-logged in 1986. The varying habitats caused by the blowdown, the logging roads, gas well sites and beaver dams give the hiker many opportunities to view diverse wildlife.

Beaver Dam Trail: 2.3 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail along Mud Run traverses good beaver habitat. Be on the lookout for signs of this amazing creature, like cuttings, tracks, lodges and dams.

CCC Trail: 1.6 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail is a walk down memory lane to the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This was the road used daily for travel between the residential CCC camp (now the Organized Group Tenting Area) and the work site at the dam. Now the road serves as a trail, making its way through pleasant pine plantations, traversing from Tyler Road to a point on Mud Run Road. A connector trail leads to Laurel Run Trail.

Laurel Run Trail: 1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Long used by fishermen and more recently by loggers, this trail starts near the campground bridge, follows Laurel Run and winds through the tornado blowdown area.

Logslide Trail: 0.5 mile, orange blazes, easiest hiking
By the trailhead is an authentic reproduction of a log slide, used in the 1870s to haul logs out of the forest. A display shows other logging tools. Look along the trail for places where the Civilian Conservation Corps cut stone in the 1930s to build Parker Dam. The trail connects with Stumpfield Trail via a pipeline and is part of the Quehanna Trail, which is blazed in orange.

Skunk Trail: 1.4 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail winds through hardwood trees. It connects Souders Trail with Mud Run Road.

Snow Trail: 1.6 miles, blue blazes and orange diamonds, easiest hiking
The trail starts on Beaver Dam Trail and connects with Moose Grade Road. Popular with snowmobilers, hunters and cross-country skiers, Snow Trail offers a pleasant hike in the wilderness.

Souders Trail: 0.75 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This scenic loop trail features Laurel Run, lush meadows and large hardwood and evergreen trees.

Spurline Trail: 3.5 miles, orange or yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Start on Fairview Road and follow the old railroad spur that had been used from 1910 to 1913 to log the area.

Stumpfield Trail: 0.5 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Begin at the campground amphitheater and traverse a meadow that was once a forest of pine and hemlock. Look for large stumps left from logging at the turn of the 20th century. Stunted trees and thick shrubs are evidence of repeated wildfires that destroyed topsoil and slowed forest regrowth. This trail connects with Logslide Trail via a pipeline.

Sullivan Ridge Trail: 1.4 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
This trail follows logging roads along the top of Sullivan Mountain, offering scenic overlooks of Moose Run Valley. Sullivan Ridge Trail connects Snow Trail with Abbot Hollow Trail. This trail is not suitable for cross-country skiing.

Tornado Alley Trail: 0.5 mile, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This logging road connects Sullivan Ridge Trail with the cabin area. It offers a panoramic view of the tornado damage in Abbot Hollow.

Trail of New Giants: 1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
On May 31, 1985, one of Pennsylvania’s largest and strongest tornadoes roared through the park and destroyed the towering forest of ash, oak, beech and sugar maple trees. The Trail of New Giants cuts through the blowdown and the 250-acre Windstorm Preserve. Walk the trail and see the forest regenerating. A spur trail leads to a beautiful vista of the park and surrounding forest.

Quehanna Trail: 73 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
This trail travels from the park through the Quehanna Wild Area. The backpack trail loops range from one to seven days. Only experienced hikers should use these wilderness trails. The main trail is blazed in orange. Connector trails are blazed in yellow. For backpacking information, visit the Backpacking section below in State the Night.

For more information on the Quehanna Trail, visit the Quehanna Area Trails Club Web site.

Orienteering: A small beginner-level orienteering course is located behind the park office, beginning near the Souders Trail trailhead. This course was created and installed as a Girl Scout Gold Award Project in 2011. Information on this course is available at the park office.

Geocaching, Geotours and Letterboxing: Geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt. GPS units are used to find historic places and big trees in the park. There are several geocaches and letterboxes in the park and surrounding state forest. Brochures are available at the park office. Contact the park office for more information. New caches must be approved by the park manager.

Stay the Night

A camper is parked in the campground at Parker Dam State Park, Pennsylvania.Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
The camping area is on the eastern edge of the lake and has completely shaded sites to open grassy sites. It is open from the second Friday in April through mid-December and has a sanitary dump station. Electric hook-ups are available at most campsites. Some sites have full service hook up, which includes sewer, water, and electricity. Pets are permitted on designated sites. A seasonal camp store has camping equipment and supplies. The maximum stay is 14 days during the summer season and 21 days during the off season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours between stays.

Explore the campground map.

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Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host positions
The campground host site has amenities that include 50-amp electric service. The host is required to assist park personnel for 40 hours per week with a minimum stay of two weeks. Duties will include:

  1. Provide on site contact with campers during the time the park office is closed.
  2. Litter pick up around restrooms, play areas, and throughout campground
  3. Check restrooms prior to retiring to stock toilet paper and report any problems.
  4. Maintain campsite markers so they are straight and have a place to display permit.
  5. Collect fees for pets, extra car parking, showers, and camping as required.
  6. Notify Park Ranger/Manager/911 in case of emergency at the park by phone or radio.

Contact the park office for additional information and availability on the Campground Host Program.

Backpacking: The park is the western trailhead of the Quehanna Trail System. Through a series of loops and connecting trails, this system offers over 73 miles of hiking opportunities of one to six nights in duration. There is no backpack camping in the park. Trail maps are available at the park office. After registering at the park office, backpackers should park in the second car parking lot by the campground. This lot is closed in the winter.

For more information on the Quehanna Trail, visit the Quehanna Area Trails Club Web site.

This cozy, stone cabin is Rustic Cabin 5 at Parker Dam State Park, Pennsylvania.Rustic Cabins: Surrounded by trees, the 16 rustic cabins can be rented year-round. The cabins sleep 4, 6 or 8 people. Each cabin has a nearby modern restroom with a sink, shower and flush toilet. Cabins are heated by gas and a fireplace. Each cabin has bunk beds, mattresses, gas cooking stove, refrigerator, tables and chairs. Renters must provide their own bedding, firewood, cookware and tableware. In the summer season, cabins only rent by the week. In the off-season, the minimum rental is two nights. Advance reservations are required.

Explore the cabin map.

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Tyler Cabin: This unique, octagonal log cabin can be rented year-round. The large, one-room cabin features electric heat, ceiling fans, tables, chairs and a large, central, stone fireplace. Eleven people can sleep in bunk beds. A small alcove with a galley-type kitchen holds the electric stove and refrigerator. Dogs are permitted. There is an ADA accessible, non-flush restroom nearby.

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Organized Group Tenting: These open, grassy areas are in the northern end of the park at the intersection of Mud Run and Tyler roads. One area holds 20 people and the other area holds 50 people.

These rentable tenting areas have non-flush toilets, water hydrants, picnic tables and fire rings. For an additional fee, organized groups can use the campground showers.

Explore organized group tenting for more information.

Winter Activities

Parker Dam State Park is a haven for winter activities. A heated restroom is open in the day use area. Explore the Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths. Please be safe on the ice.

Cross-country Skiing: Conditions permitting, groomed ski trails are maintained on Beaver Dam, Souders, CCC and Skunk trails.

Snowshoeing: Snowshoes can be used throughout the park.

Sledding: A small sledding and toboggan run is near the boat rental area. A larger sledding hill is on the power line on Mud Run Road. Park in the sugar shack parking lot.

Snowmobiling: Unload your registered snowmobile in the park to gain access to the extensive trail system on the adjacent state forest land. Snowmobiling is permitted on selected trails and joint-use roads. The snowmobile trails are open daily after the end of deer season in December until April 1, conditions permitting.

Ice Fishing: Trout are stocked during late fall for anglers. There is no winter stocking though the ice. Ice thickness is not monitored.

Ice Skating: Conditions permitting, an ice skating area is maintained at the swimming area. Ice thickness is monitored for safety.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

Parker Dam State Park offers year-round environmental education 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. A small-scale, interpretive maple sugaring operation runs throughout March. Apple cider making is demonstrated each October.

Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and organized groups. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Teacher workshops are available.

A small, environmental education center, attached to the park office, offers interpretive displays, games and children’s books. The Lou and Helen Adams Civilian Conservation Corps Museum near the breast of the dam educates visitors about the life and times of the corps members. It is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the summer season when volunteers are available or upon request. Wayside exhibits interpreting the tornado are along Mud Run Road near Tyler Cabin.

Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.

Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.

Special Events

Woodsy Owl Weekend: Each spring volunteers gather to do service projects like litter pick-up, painting, tree planting and trail maintenance. Volunteers receive free weekend camping.

Woodhick Weekend: Held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, visitors compete in five events for the coveted titles of Woodhick and Woodchick of the Year. Established in 1984 to celebrate the logging history of the park, visitors can roll logs, crosscut saw, or try other events to discover the lives and recreation of early loggers. Logging demonstrations are also held.

Fall Festival and Pumpkin Float: Held the third Saturday of October, this festival celebrates traditions of fall like apple cidering, candle dipping and others. Several vendors, artists and craftspeople showcase and sell their wares. Visitors can carve pumpkins which are then floated on the lake after dark while stories are shared around a bonfire at the beach.

Explore the Calendar of Events for the dates of these special events and for any other programs at Parker Dam State Park.

Access for People with Disabilities

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.