Sinnemahoning State Park
Sinnemahoning State Park, located near the center of the Pennsylvania Wilds’ scenic steep valleys region, encompasses 1,910 acres of beautiful scenery and outstanding wildlife habitat. Situated in Cameron and Potter counties, the park is nestled between the green-shouldered ridges of Pennsylvania’s Elk and Susquehannock State Forests. The park is long and narrow and includes lands on both sides of First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek, a major tributary to the Sinnemahoning Creek. At the southern end of the park, a 145-acre reservoir created by the George B. Stevenson dam provides excellent fishing and water recreation opportunities. The abundance of wildlife within the park provides visitors with opportunities to view bald eagles, coyotes, elk and bobcats. In addition, the park’s geographic location is excellent for visitors to explore the other treasures of the PA Wilds region.
Picnicking: The park contains two main picnic areas. The Eagle Watch Picnic Ground at the George B. Stevenson reservoir is located in an open grassy area, and includes picnic tables and charcoal grills. In addition, a pavilion with an adjoining checkers/chess table and grill is located at the Eagle Watch Area directly above the boat launch.
The 40 Maples Day Use Area includes two ADA accessible pavilions, along with numerous individual picnic tables scattered throughout the area. It also contains a volleyball net, horseshoe pits and a basketball half-court. Electricity is not available in this area
Pavilions can be reserved up to 11 months in advance and must be reserved at least two days in advance. Unreserved pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis
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 145-acre George B. Stevenson Reservoir has fishing for cold-water and warm-water species, including brook, rainbow and brown trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegill, pickerel, perch, crappie and catfish. An ADA accessible fishing pier is located near the boat launch. Nearby creeks also provide good angling and some feeder streams in the park contain native brook trout. Excellent fly fishing can be found on First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek, downstream from the mouth of Bailey Run for 2.1 miles. This section is designated as a delayed harvest, artificial lures only special regulation area.
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.
Fish Habitat Improvement: For several years, Sinnemahoning State Park has partnered with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Cooperative Habitat Improvement Program (CHIP) to place fish and turtle habitat structures in the lake and ponds throughout the park. This program places habitat structures, primarily made of wood or rocks, in lakes or impoundments in the Commonwealth. The habitat structures mimic the aquatic environment in a natural lake and aid in the survival and reproduction of aquatic species.
Hunting and Firearms: About 1400 acres of the park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during the established seasons. Common game species are deer, grouse, squirrel, bear, turkey and waterfowl.
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: 5 miles of trails
An ADA accessible wildlife viewing platform is located at the northern trailhead of the Lowlands Trail. This area is ideal habitat for deer, elk, woodcock, migratory songbirds and monarch butterflies. The trail from the wildlife viewing platform to the 40 Maples Day Use Area is ADA accessible.
A spur of the trail near the 40 Maples Day Use Area leads to a secluded viewing blind that overlooks an abandoned beaver pond. Quiet visitors may be able to see great blue herons wading in the pond or painted turtles basking on partially submerged logs. Osprey, green herons, belted kingfishers, bobcats and whitetail deer also frequent the area.
For a more primitive hiking experience, visitors can hike the Red Spruce Trail from the campground to the 40 Maples Day Use Area. This trail skirts an exceptional wetland area and passes under the dense canopy of mature mixed hardwood forest. This one-mile trail is marked with yellow blazes. Areas of rocks and roots make this trail surface more challenging than the Lowlands Trail.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: one host position in the modern campground
Brooks Run Cabin: Brooks Run Cabin is nestled in a hemlock grove along Brooks Run stream at the southern end of the park. The four-bedroom modern cabin has accommodations for twelve people and includes an updated, fully-outfitted kitchen and a living room with a stone fireplace. Linens, washcloths, towels, cleaning supplies and food are not supplied. A secluded patio and campfire area provides convenient space for outdoor cooking and entertaining. This popular cabin can be reserved up to 11 months in advance and must be reserved at least two days in advance. It is available by the week during the summer season and for a minimum of two days for off-season reservations.
Brooks Run Cabin Brochure (.pdf)
Explore cabins for more information.
Firewood: Firewood is available from several vendors in the area. An invasive insect, the emerald ash borer has been identified in several counties in Pennsylvania and is known to be transported in lumber and firewood. To prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, please do not move firewood to, or from, other areas.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Park trails and open fields are available for skiing with adequate snow cover.
Snowmobiling: The park trail consists of 1.1 miles of joint-use road and 4.1 miles of trail for a total of 5.2 miles. The trail is clearly delineated by signs and orange blaze markers. Current snow depths and conditions are posted on the state park website.
The park trail joins the trails of the Elk State Forest at Brooks Run Road, making 25 total miles of trail system. All state forest trails are groomed weekly. Snowmobiles may be operated on designated trails and roads from the day following the last deer season in December until April 1, weather permitting. Snowmobiles are prohibited from operating on frozen water surfaces and shorelines. All snowmobiles must be registered.
Ice Skating: Conditions permitting, an ice skating area is available on the pond at the Wildlife Viewing Area near the northern end of the park. Please use caution.
Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is four inches thick and carry safety equipment. Extreme caution must be taken during ice related activities. Dangerous ice conditions like unsafe or weak ice or air pockets may exist due to rapidly rising or falling lake levels.
Ice Fishing: Conditions permitting, all areas of the lake are open for ice fishing except within 50 feet of the trash boom by the dam.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Sinnemahoning 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.
Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and other youth groups. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Teacher workshops on a variety of subjects are also available.
Canoe and kayak programs are very popular from spring to fall. The park has an inventory of kayaks and canoes and offers paddling programs that range from basic to competitive racing.
Wildlife watching pontoon boat tours of the George B. Stevenson reservoir are offered on most Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In addition, specialty bird watching tours that feature a hot brunch served onboard are scheduled several times each summer, usually on major holiday weekends.
Biking programs are offered on selected Saturdays from May to October. The park has ten hybrid bikes in various adult sizes for use during the program or you may bring your own. Helmets are provided and must be worn.
Wildlife watching programs and opportunities are available year-round. Participants may search for amphibians in the spring, watch bald eagles snatch a fish from the lake or observe black bear gorging on fall berries. Elk can often be seen grazing in open areas near 40 Maples Day Use Area. Keep Wildlife Wild – feeding wildlife is dangerous and illegal. Please don’t feed wild animals.
Outdoor photography workshops are offered several times each year. The workshops focus on digital wildlife and landscape photography and are designed for the novice photographer. More advanced workshops will be available in the future. Contact the park office for dates, times, and applicable fees.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Haunted Halloween Trail and All Hallows Eve Celebration invites visitors to Sinnemahoning State Park for a BOOtiful evening! Visitors can watch for ghosts, ghouls and goblins, and some scary native critters along the Lowlands Trail. Children can enjoy Halloween crafts and games in the Wildlife Center classroom while learning about the origins of Halloween and the animals that are traditionally associated with this holiday.
The Birds n’ Brunch Pontoon Boat Tour is a special, morning, bird-watching, pontoon boat excursion offered several times each season. The tour includes a light brunch on the boat, complete with tablecloths and music while anchored in a secluded cove of the lake. Afterward, the boat moves along the shores and wetland areas of the George B. Stevenson dam and offers glimpses of herons, mergansers, kingfishers and other birds that frequent the area. The excursion concludes with a look at the park’s resident bald eagles’ nest site and hopefully a glimpse of these magnificent birds.
Come Run with the Big Dogs, a sled dog dry-land race, sanctioned by the Canadian-American Sled Dog Association, is held each fall during the first weekend of November. Races include Canine-Cross, Bike-Joring and Cart Races, starting at 9 a.m. each day. Spectator areas are open along the trails and staging area at the 40 Maples Day Use Area. Hot food and refreshments are also available.
Women in the Wilds Weekend is offered each summer as a female-focused weekend filled with opportunities to learn new outdoor skills. Programs include mountain biking, archery, kayaking, outdoor photography, GPS, geocaching, fly-fishing, deer and turkey hunting and many others. Participants may choose up to ten different sessions over the three days of the event.
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.
Sinnemahoning offers visitors a variety of wildlife watching experiences. Depending upon the season, visitors could encounter nesting bald eagles, elk cows with calves, bears gorging on berries, coyotes yipping in the night or elusive bobcats slipping through the brush.
Bald eagles are a common sight around the lake. Since 2000, a pair of eagles has set up year-round residence in the area. January through March, visitors can observe the pair engaging in bonding rituals and nest-building activity. In March, one to three eggs are laid and incubation begins. Eaglets hatch around the middle of April with fledging occurring usually in the month of June. During the winter months, watch for eagles fishing in the open waters below the dam or eating carrion along the roadside. Throughout the rest of the year, a good pair of binoculars and some patience will provide the casual observer with a spectacular display of eagle behavior.
Sinnemahoning State Park is home to a growing elk herd. Elk are mainly grazers preferring to feed on forbs, legumes and grasses, but will browse on trees and shrubs when adequate ground vegetation is not available. Look for elk near the wildlife viewing platform, 40 Maples Picnic Area and the Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning. The viewing platform area is managed cooperatively between the Pennsylvania Game Commission and State Parks. The grassy opening near the viewing platform was planted in clover and trefoil, a wildlife favorite. Although elk prefer these open, grassy areas, other wildlife benefit from the food source as well.
Fall is the rut or breeding season for elk. Watch for a herd of cows being guarded by a dominant bull. Listen for the bugle and belly grunts of a bull as he defends his harem from other intruding bulls.
Remember that elk are wild and can be dangerous especially during calving (June) and rutting (September/October) seasons. Please view elk and other wildlife from the viewing platform at the northern end of the food plot and stay on designated trails.
Wildlife Watching Tips
When watching wildlife, keep in mind the following tips to enhance the quality of your viewing experience.
Fade into the woodwork:
Think like an animal:
Let animals be themselves:
From a birds-eye view, Sinnemahoning State Park sits in a deep narrow valley carved out of a high plateau. Melt waters of glaciers massively eroded layers of sandstone and shale and created the deep valleys of this area. For a spectacular view, climb to the top of Brooks Run Road and go right onto Ridge Road to the Logue Run Vista. Notice the uniform, flat-topped hills that rise 2,300 feet above mean sea level.
The deep valleys contrast with the heavily forested terrain of the mountains. The farm fields and riparian habitats of Sinnemahoning State Park are part of a rich tapestry that support a variety of plants and animals.
Spring in northern Pennsylvania is a time of renewal. Wildflowers, such as spring beauties, hepaticas and wood lily, spot the forest floor. During an early morning walk, visitors may encounter a variety of migratory songbirds returning from South America to raise their young in the seclusion of the park. Common migrants include scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds, northern parula (look for them at the 40 Maples Picnic Area) and the black-billed cuckoo, one of the few birds that may even be heard singing at night.
Summer is a time of growth. Lush vegetation provides the needed nutrients for elk and deer to nourish their young. Look for spotted elk calves and fawns along the Lowlands Trail and a variety of butterflies along the trails and near the Wildlife Viewing Platform. At the northern end of the park, scan the sandy banks of the First Fork for holes indicating the presence of nesting belted kingfishers, a fish-eating bird. This is a time of growth for invasive species as well. These species, such as mile-a-minute vine, threaten native species and biodiversity when uncontrolled. Park staff and volunteers are involved in efforts in the northern end of the park to control invasive species. Visitors may see areas of browned vegetation as a result.
In the fall, foliage reaches its peak as the reds, oranges and yellows are revealed in the leaves of the deciduous forests. Watch for the annual migration of bald eagles as they rest and feed on the lake before trekking to their winter grounds. A resident, nesting pair can be seen year-round at the boat launch area. Watch for small congregations of monarch butterflies in October as they prepare for their long migration to South America.
Winter is a good time to search for signs of wildlife. Look for strips of bark removed from trees indicating the presence of elk or tracks of coyote and bobcat in the snow. Resident bald eagles can be seen nest building and preparing for the upcoming nesting season.
Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park
Enjoy state-of-the-art interpretive exhibits, opportunities to view wildlife, and learn about green building design at the new Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning.
In 2011, a new visitor center and park office opened in the northern section of the park. The 9300 square foot facility will provide office space, improved visitor services and a gallery of interactive exhibits (Spring 2013) that will help connect the visitor to the park and the PA Wilds region.
Sinnemahoning State Park is in the “heart” of the PA Wilds region, which is comprised of wild, natural areas from 13 counties in the northern tier of Pennsylvania. It includes 29 state parks and 1.5 million acres of state forest and state game lands. The park is surrounded by the Elk, Susquehannock and Sproul state forest districts. Sinnemahoning was chosen because of its central location and the many connections that it offers visitors to other activities and facilities within this remote region. The wildness of the area is an important draw as it provides an abundance of wildlife watching opportunities from elk to otters and an outstanding variety of birdlife. It is also a place for DCNR to share its stewardship messages with local communities, businesses and park visitors.
The original inhabitants called this area Sinnemahoning, derived from the American Indian word “Achsinnimahoni” meaning “stony lick.” The first Europeans to enter the valleys of the First Fork were most likely fur trappers followed by the first few permanent settlers who scratched out a meager living farming the available bottomlands.
The 1800s saw the beginnings -of a logging boom in northcentral Pennsylvania; an industry that targeted the abundant old growth pine and hemlock forests. Boom towns sprang up and quickly grew into major centers for commerce and entertainment.
By the turn of the century, most of the timber had been harvested and huge expanses of once-forested hillsides stood bare and subject to erosion and wildfires. The Department of Forests and Waters (now the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) purchased this denuded land for state forest lands.
For more information about the logging history of north central Pennsylvania, contact the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, Potter County, 814-435-2652. www.lumbermuseum.org
The 1850s ushered in the railroad era for the Sinnemahoning Valley. The Lowlands Trail, which runs the length of the park, was built upon the rail bed of the Goodyear Brothers Railroad, constructed around the turn of the 20th century as part of the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad System. It later became part of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad and eventually the Baltimore and Ohio.
The people who settled along the First Fork were a rugged, self-reliant group of individuals, as attested to by the area’s most famous resident, Chauncey “Chance” Logue. He was responsible for planting the maples in 40 Maples Day Use Area. Visitors who count the trees will see that Chance actually planted 48 maples. Chauncey’s photo and story can be seen on the display panel near the restrooms in the day use area.
In the years following the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began to work in the valley, putting young men back to work. From 1933 to 1936 Lushbaugh Camp, S-139-PA, operated near the present-day site of the Brooks Run Cabin.
For more information on the CCC, explore The CCC Years.
History of the Park
Sinnemahoning State Park was developed on the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek following the completion of the George B. Stevenson Dam. This dam was originally known as the First Fork Dam, and later renamed in honor of Clinton County Senator George B. Stevenson, who promoted the drive for legislation authorizing the project. The dam reduces downstream flooding in the Susquehanna River Basin. It was completed in December of 1955.
The opening of Sinnemahoning State Park represents one of the state’s first attempts to develop multi-purpose use of an impoundment area. The park opened to the public in 1958. On March 9, 1959, the construction of the recreation areas and facilities were completed. The park then contained three picnic areas with three non-flush toilets, four wells, a beach area and a boat launching and mooring facilities. In 1966, one picnic area was converted into a camping area.
When the park area first opened to the public in 1958, it was managed by the Bureau of Forestry. In 1962, the park was incorporated into the state park system.
On July 1, 1983, the George B. Stevenson Dam, a state owned and operated flood control dam, was transferred to the Bureau of State Parks for administration.
George B. Stevenson Dam
In 1955, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania constructed the George B. Stevenson Dam on the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek as a unit of the general comprehensive plan for flood control along the West Branch Susquehanna River Basin. This plan consists of four reservoirs: George B. Stevenson, Alvin R. Bush (Kettle Creek State Park), Curwensville and Foster Joseph Sayers (Bald Eagle State Park). Coordinated operation of the four reservoirs controls a total of 1,163 square miles of drainage area. By controlling the runoff from these areas, these reservoirs provide significant flood prevention to the towns downstream.
In order to achieve best results from the system, all four dams are regulated during floods in accordance with instructions issued by the Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Statistics of George B. Stevenson Dam
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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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Sinnemahoning State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
the Potter County Visitors Association www.pottercountypa.org
the Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau. www.visitpago.com
Elk State Forest: Principally in Elk and Cameron Counties, the 200,000 acres of forest land are open to hunting, fishing and general recreation. Within Elk State Forest is a portion of the Quehanna Wild Area, which is south of Sinnemahoning. The Quehanna Trail System provides access for primitive-type forest recreation limited to day use activities and backpack hiking.
Quehanna Wild Area: This 48,000-acre almost circular patch of small second-growth mixed hardwood forest is situated on a plateau in the most unpopulated area of the entire state. The Quehanna Wild Area was set aside to maintain the undeveloped character of the forest environment and is now designated as an Important Bird Area. This area was originally state forest land that was transferred to the Curtis Wright Corporation for jet engine and nuclear research in 1955 and returned to the Commonwealth in 1966. More information on the Quehanna Wild Area can be found through Elk State Forest.
Susquehannock State Forest: This 262,000-acre forest abuts the northern portion of Sinnemahoning State Park. It provides opportunities for hiking, primitive camping, fishing, boating, hunting and other popular recreational activities
Bucktail State Park Natural Area: This park consists of a beautiful 75-mile scenic drive along PA 120 from Emporium to Lock Haven. This route stretches through a narrow valley which has for years been called the Bucktail Trail. The scenic drive follows the route taken by the Bucktail Regiment on their way to Harrisburg for the American Civil War.
Cherry Springs State Park: Named for the large stands of black cherry trees in the park, Cherry Springs boasts some of the darkest night skies in the northeastern United States. The park provides an astronomy field, special facilities and education programs for astronomers and the general public
Elk Scenic Drive: The drive outlines a 127-mile corridor passing through Clinton, Clearfield, Cameron and Elk counties. The scenic drive takes travelers through the Pennsylvania elk range and offers views of some of the most beautiful areas of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Visitors are provided with abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography
PA Wilds Artisan Trail: The Artisan Trail is a series of shops and locations throughout the PA Wilds that feature work by local artists and artisans. The Artisan Center in Emporium, the park office at Parker Dam State Park and the Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park are all featured in the Artisan Trail
Austin Dam Memorial Site: The ruins of a broken dam and destroyed buildings are still visible just north of Austin, approximately 18 miles north of Sinnemahoning State Park on PA 872. On September 30, 1911, the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company Dam on Freeman Run gave way, releasing millions of gallons of water through the town of Austin, killing 78 people and destroying the towns of Austin and Costello. The disaster was reported as far away as San Francisco and inspired the 1913 legislation to control dam construction in Pennsylvania. www.austindam.net/
Explore Pennsylvania Wilds
Pennsylvania Wilds is two million acres of public lands for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, hunting and exploration in northcentral Pennsylvania. Within the twelve-county region are: 29 state parks, eight state forest districts (1.3 million acres); 50 state game lands and Allegheny National Forest (500,000 acres. 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.
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:
Sinnemahoning State Park Map (.pdf) (2,514 kb, 7/13)
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.
Brooks Run Cabin Brochure
Brooks Run Cabin Brochure (.pdf) (1,988 kb, 4/13)
Sinnemahoning State Park is located on PA 872 in Cameron and Potter counties in northcentral Pennsylvania. The park is 13 miles north of the intersection of PA 120 and PA 872 (outside of the village of Sinnemahoning) or 15 miles south of Austin. The park office, located within the Wildlife Center, is 0.5 mile south of the northern intersection of PA 872 and Park Road. The northern entrance of the park is about 3 miles north on PA 872.
For GPS and online mapping software, please use the GPS coordinates below. The Driving Directions below also work well.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.47341 Long. -78.05653
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.
Sinnemahoning State Park