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.
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
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.
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.
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 and refreshment concession and camp store are open daily, weather permitting, during the summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
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 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.
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 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: 16 miles of trails
Abbot Hollow Trail: 1.7 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Beaver Dam Trail: 2.3 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
CCC Trail: 1.6 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
Laurel Run Trail: 1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Logslide Trail: 0.5 mile, orange blazes, easiest hiking
Skunk Trail: 1.4 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
Snow Trail: 1.6 miles, blue blazes and orange diamonds, easiest hiking
Souders Trail: 0.75 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Spurline Trail: 3.5 miles, orange or yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Stumpfield Trail: 0.5 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Sullivan Ridge Trail: 1.4 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Tornado Alley Trail: 0.5 mile, blue blazes, easiest hiking
Trail of New Giants: 1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Quehanna Trail: 73 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
For more information on the Quehanna Trail, visit the Quehanna Area Trails Club Web site. www.kta-hike.org/
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.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host positions
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. www.kta-hike.org/
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.
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 cabins for more information.
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.
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.
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.
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. For your safety, be sure the ice is four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
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 events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
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.
Visitors are asked to recycle their refuse. Recycling centers in the campground and cabin area recycle aluminum cans.
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.
Parker Lake: The eastern shoreline of this 20-acre lake has a mix of maples, cherries, oaks and eastern hemlocks, which makes for gorgeous fall foliage. A pathway from the campground to the swimming area travels over the breast of the earthen dam.
Windstorm Preserve: The tornado of 1985 blew a swath of destruction across Parker Dam State Park. The forest to the west of Mud Run Road has been left in a natural state. Note the large, bare tree trunks still standing in testimony to the power of the storm. The Trail of New Giants runs through this area. On the east side of Mud Run Road, fallen trees have been salvaged and removed. Explore both areas to see if the forest is regrowing differently in the two areas.
Wildlife Watching: Parker Dam State Park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest harbor deep forests where wildlife thrives in unbroken wilderness. In conifer forests, look for ravens and black-throated green and Blackburnian warblers. The shy ovenbird and American redstart make the deciduous forest their home. Look for turkey in Abbot Hollow, and along Laurel Ridge and Mud Run roads.
Evenings are great for wildlife watching. White-tailed deer feed by the park office, ball field or near Picnic Pavilion Seven. A drive on Tyler Road might yield a coyote or fox. Look for the elusive bobcat, free ranging elk or porcupine in the tornado blowdown area in the evening. Watch for beaver on Mud Run, Abbot Run or on the campground side of the lake. Please do not feed wildlife and observe from a safe distance.
Pennsylvania Elk Herd: Elk (Wapiti) are about four times larger than white-tailed deer. Elk may weigh from 400 to 1,000 pounds and vary from 6 to 8.5 feet in length. Adult males carry very large antlers that can be six feet long and weigh 30 pounds. September and October are the best months to see elk. Big bulls bugle a high pitched whistle to attract cow elk. Never approach elk, especially during the autumn rutting season.
The heart of the elk range is only a 50-minute drive from Parker Dam State Park. The Elk Country Visitor Center is a 30-minute drive away and features interactive displays and great elk viewing opportunities. A second population of elk lies to the east in Sproul State Forest. The Pennsylvania elk herd is over 1000 animals and is expanding its range into areas in or near Parker Dam State Park.
When European settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, the Iroquois Confederacy had claimed this land and invited the uprooted Lenni Lenape (Delaware) to occupy it. Eventually loggers and homesteaders moved in, forcing the American Indians to migrate west.
In 1794, Daniel Delany surveyed the impressive forests of white pine, hemlock and scattered hardwoods. Logging began slowly as small sawmills processed the wood. The light, strong wood of the white pine made it the jewel of early lumbering. Ship builders in Baltimore prized tall white pine logs for ship masts and paid premium prices. Loggers built white pine rafts and rode them down the Susquehanna River. When all went well, loggers arrived in Baltimore to sell their highly valued logs.
Logging accelerated in 1851 because of a log boom built across the West Branch of the Susquehanna River at Williamsport. The boom stopped floating logs for sorting and cutting by sawmills. Upriver, “woodhicks” felled trees, cut off their branches and marked each log with the seal of the lumber company that employed them. Most logging occurred in winter, when a thick layer of snow and ice made hauling easier. Woodhicks built wooden log slides on hillsides to easily move logs to temporary pools called splash dams. A reproduction log slide and early lumbering tools can be seen on the Log Slide Trail.
Splash dams were released each spring to float logs down Laurel Run to Bennetts Branch, then to Sinnemahoning Creek, and then into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River for their journey to the sawmills at Williamsport.
The park takes its name from William Parker, who leased lumbering rights from John Otto. Parker built a splash dam on Laurel Run at the site of the present lake.
Full-scale lumbering in the area probably began around 1870. The forests were cut and recut, first for the white pine and later for hemlock and hardwoods.
In the early 1900s, the log boom at Williamsport became inefficient because geared locomotives moved the logs directly from the forests to the mills. The log boom was dismantled in 1909.
The Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company built logging railroads and logged the park land a final time. Crews loaded up to 45 railroad cars a day until logging ended in the park in 1911. Old railroad grades are still visible on Moose Grade Road, and Spurline, Beaver Dam and Quehanna hiking trails. For nearly two decades after the last tree was felled, fires and floods plagued the area
In 1930, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began buying land from the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company for $3 an acre. Around the same time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started a conservation movement to help stem the Great Depression and restore the nation’s natural resources. He called it the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It employed young men in conservation work and gave them hope.
In 1933, the CCC boys set up camp at the intersection of Tyler and Mud Run roads (Camp S-73-PA). The CCC planted trees, built roads and trails and constructed the current dam of native sandstone on the site of William Parker's splash dam. Their handiwork is seen in the stone pavilions and in the Lou and Helen Adams CCC Museum near the breast of the dam. Parker Dam was designated a recreational reserve in 1936. The CCC and the Works Progress Administration continued improvements, until many CCCers were drafted in 1941 for World War II.
For more information on the CCC explore The CCC Years.
Since the days of the CCC, Parker Dam has changed very little. New facilities have been added and seedlings planted by the CCC have grown into trees. In May of 1985, many of the majestic trees in the park were lost to a tremendous tornado. But, through it all there is a constant; the beauty and serenity of Parker Dam State Park.
Lou and Helen Adams Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
This CCC museum at Parker Dam State Park provides a look back in time to the 1930s and early '40s. Photos, interpretation, videos and more await to inform the visitor of the life and times of the CCC. The building itself was built by the CCC and functioned as the park office until 1984, when it began its transition to becoming a wonderful interpretive center honoring all the work completed by the men and boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The museum is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. during the summer season, as volunteers are available. The museum is also available for group tours by appointment by calling the park office.
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Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Join a Friends Group
The non-profit Friends of Parker Dam aims to include visitors in conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, educational, and recreational resources of the park. The Friends conduct activities and projects, as well as host opportunities to volunteering. Any money that donated to the FOYC benefits Parker Dam State Park directly. As an affiliate chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation, contributions are deductible under the fullest extent of the law. Website
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.
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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.
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Parker Dam State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Agency. www.visitClearfieldCounty.org
Simon B. Elliott State Park: Just off PA 153, near I-80, the park has picnicking, hunting, hiking, camping, rustic cabins and winter activities.
Moshannon State Forest: This 180,000- acre state forest stretches across northcentral Pennsylvania. Beautiful scenery abounds in several wild and natural areas. For additional state forest information contact Moshannon State Forest, 814-765-0821.
Services Available in Nearby Towns: Penfield (5 miles) – convenience store, restaurant, coin-operated laundry, mechanics, gasoline stations, church and post office. Clearfield (17 miles south), DuBois (19 miles west) and St. Marys (20 northeast) offer shopping centers and hospitals.
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
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.
Parker Dam State Park Cabin Map (.pdf) (43 kb, 3/11)
Common Birds Brochure
Common Birds of Parker Dam State Park (.pdf) (377 kb, 3/11)
Parker Dam State Park is in northern Clearfield County. From I-80, take Exit 111 onto PA 153 North for 5.5 miles. Turn right onto Mud Run Road, and then drive 2.5 miles to the park.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.1937 Long. -78.5115
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.
Parker Dam State Park