Swatara State Park

The 3,520-acre Swatara State Park consists of rolling fields and woodlands situated in the Swatara Valley, between Second and Blue mountains. The scenic Swatara Creek meanders the length of the park and is surrounded by forests and wetlands that support a diversity of wildlife.

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Hiking   -  Appalachian Trail   -  Mountain Biking   -  Horseback Riding   -  Boating   -  Fishing   -  Hunting   -  Cross-country Skiing

Next to a creek is a sign for Lickdale Canoe Launch at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.Boating: non-powered boats only
Swatara Creek is a popular destination for canoeing, kayaking and tubing, especially in the spring. Designated launches at Swopes Valley Trailhead, the Waterville Bridge Parking Lot and the Lickdale Trailhead provide access to the creek for put-in and take-out of boats.

Be aware of naturally occurring hazards which may be encountered on Swatara Creek. Each boater must possess a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD). Those 12 and younger must wear a PFD. Tubers 9 and younger must wear a PFD.

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.

Visit the U.S. Geological Survey Web site for the water level of Swatara Creek at Inwood. Recommended gauge height is a minimum of 3.25 feet.  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=01572025%2C01572190&format=gif_mult_sites&PARAmeter_cd=00065&period=7

Fishing: Spring attracts many anglers to Trout Run; the park’s only trout stocked stream. Other cold-water tributaries within the park support native populations of brook trout, as does Swatara Creek.

Warmwater fish like smallmouth bass and panfish can be caught in Swatara Creek. Wagners Pond provides opportunities to catch largemouth bass and panfish.

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: Most of Swatara State Park is open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel and waterfowl, with populations of furbearers including muskrat, raccoon, opossum and fox. Be alert for trail users and the 150-yard safety zone surrounding each of the occupied buildings in the park.

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: 24.2 miles of trails
Park trails are generally flat and wide. Many small, connector trails allow hikers to create loops of various distances. Hikers can also hike the additional 9.8 miles of trails in the Mountain Biking Complex. Below are the main trails in the park.

Bear Hole Trail: 4.8 miles, more difficult hiking
Running along the eastern side of Swatara State Park is Bear Hole Trail, a wide, rolling trail for hiking and biking.

Surrounded by autumn-colored leaves, a couple walk their dogs on the railtrail at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.Swatara Rail Trail: 10 miles, easiest hiking
Swatara Rail Trail extends from Lickdale Interchange (Exit 90) of I-81 to the Pine Grove Interchange (Exit 100) of I-81. The trail is relatively flat, with variable surfaces: dirt, gravel and pavement. This trail is good for cross-country skiing with adequate snowfall.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail: 2 miles in the park, more difficult hiking
Stretching from Georgia to Maine, this backpacking trail traverses two miles of the southern portion of Swatara State Park. Overnight parking for AT hikers is on SR 443 just west of SR 72. Hikers may leave an itinerary with the park for emergencies. www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm

Northern and Southern Multi-use Loops: 11 miles of trails
By using Swatara Rail Trail and Bear Hole Trail visitors can recreate on two multi-use loops. The Southern Loop, Waterville Bridge to Sand Siding Bridge and back, is 4.6 miles. The Northern Loop, Swopes Valley Road to Sand Siding Bridge and back, is 7.2 miles and includes a brief ride on Swopes Valley Road. Both loops can be combined to make the Full Loop which is 11 miles.

Bicycling: 14.8 miles of trails
The wide and flat Bear Hole Trail and Swatara Rail Trail are excellent trail rides on bikes with wide tires. The Northern and Southern Multi-use Loops are popular rides.

Many mountain bikers parks and ride the mountain bike trails at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.Mountain Biking: 28 miles of trails
The Mountain Biking Complex can be reached from the State Park Lane Trailhead. Six loop trails twist through the woods and up-and-down hills. Each loop is about 1.5 miles in length, totaling 9.8 miles. These single track natural surface trails are a maximum 24 inches wide with log obstacles and stream crossings. They are considered “most difficult” by DCNR trail standards, but “easy” by International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) standards.

Mountain bikes are also permitted on Swatara Rail Trail (10 miles), Bear Hole Trail (4.8 miles), Moonshine Trail (0.8 mile), and other short trails that allow riders to make various loops.

Horseback Riding: 12.8 miles of trails
Except for Mifflin Trail, horses are permitted on all trails between Sand Siding Bridge and I-81/Pine Grove Exit 100. Bear Hole Trail, Swatara Rail Trail and the 3.9-mile Equestrian Trail make a nice loop.

Winter Activities

Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.

Cross-country Skiing: When there is adequate snow cover, the 10 miles of the Swatara Rail Trail is good for cross-country skiing.

Trash Disposal and Recycling

Swatara State Park participates in a carry-in/carryout trash disposal program for small parks. There are no trash collection or recycling facilities. Visitors are asked to limit the amount of disposable items brought to the park and to take all trash and recyclables home.

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.