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

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/pa/nwis/dv/?site_no=01573560&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065

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 and Bicycling: 18.2 miles of trails
The trails of the park are generally flat and wide.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail: 2 miles in the park
Stretching from Georgia to Maine, this backpacking trail traverses two miles of the southern portion of Swatara State Park. Kittatinny Ridge, also known as Blue Mountain, has been designated by Audubon Pennsylvania, as the largest of the state’s “Important Bird Areas.” Overnight parking for through or section 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

Swatara Rail Trail: 10 miles, easiest hiking
Swatara Rail Trail is ten miles in length from Lickdale Interchange (Exit 90) of I-81 to the Pine Grove Interchange (Exit 100) of I-81. The trail grade is relatively flat, with variable surfaces (dirt, gravel and pavement) requiring wide tires. This trail is good for skiing with adequate snowfall.

Bear Hole Trail: 4.8 miles, more difficult hiking
Running along the eastern side of Swatara State Park, Bear Hole Trail is a wide, rolling trail for hiking and biking. An 11-mile loop can be completed by using Swatara Rail Trail and Bear Hole Trail and crossing the creek at the Waterville Bridge and the Swopes Valley Road.

Many mountain bikers parks and ride the mountain bike trails at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.Mountain Biking: 27.7 miles of trails, most difficult hiking
Accessible from the State Park Lane trailhead, six trails are designed as mountain bike trails. 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. Each trail loop is about 1.5 miles in length, totaling 9.5 miles, and twist through the woods and up and down hills.

Mountain bikes are also permitted on Swatara Rail Trail (10 miles), Bear Hole Trail (4.8 miles), Moonshine Trail (0.8 mile), Trout Run Trail (0.5 mile), State Park Lane (0.5 mile), Portage Trail (0.4 mile), Mifflin Trail (0.3 mile), Round About Loop (0.5 mile) and Sand Siding Trail (0.4 mile), adding an additional 18.2 miles.

Horseback Riding: 12.8 miles of trails
Horseback riding is permitted on the equestrian trail west of Suedberg, Horse Trail, Swatara Rail Trail north of the Sand Siding Bridge and on the Bear Hole Trail north of the Sand Siding Bridge. Riders may use Sand Siding Bridge to access both trails.

Winter Activities

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

Cross-country Skiing: The 10-mile Swatara Rail Trail is good for skiing with adequate snowfall.

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.