Trough Creek State Park
The 541-acre Trough Creek State Park is a scenic gorge formed as Great Trough Creek cuts through Terrace Mountain before emptying into Raystown Lake. Rugged hiking trails lead to wonders like Balanced Rock and Rainbow Falls. Rothrock State Forest and Raystown Lake National Recreation Area border the park, making a large, contiguous area of public land for recreation.
Picnicking: Five picnic areas throughout the park provide a variety of scenic sites. Restrooms, water and activity areas are available at some of the picnic areas.
One large picnic pavilion and two smaller ones may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a rental fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free and may be used on a first-come, first-served basis. An additional small picnic pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fishing: Stream fishing in Great Trough Creek provides a variety of warm- and cold-water fish including trout, smallmouth bass, rock bass, sucker and panfish. In recent years, shad fish netting has become popular each spring when these fish enter tributaries of Raystown Lake to spawn. Lake fishing is available via a short walk along Terrace Mountain Trail to a sheltered cove of Raystown Lake.
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 100 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, grouse and squirrel. Trough Creek State Park adjoins Rothrock State Forest and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands, which are open for hunting. The gate on Old Forge Road is open during hunting season to give access to forest lands.
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. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 12 miles of trails
Abbot Run Trail: 0.18 mile, white blazes, more difficult hiking
Balanced Rock Trail: 0.12 mile, green blazes, more difficult hiking
Boulder Trail: 1.05 miles, red blazes, more difficult hiking
Brumbaugh Trail: 2.4 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
Cemetery Trail: 0.28 mile, orange blazes, more difficult hiking
Copperas Rock Trail: 0.43 mile, red blazes, more difficult hiking
Laurel Run Trail: 1.8 miles, green blazes, more difficult hiking
Ledges Trail: 0.91 mile, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Raven Rock Trail: 0.32 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Rhododendron Trail: 0.6 mile, green blazes, more difficult hiking
Terrace Mountain Trail: 29 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Biking: 3.5 miles of trails
Camping: 29 sites, all with electricty
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: one host position in the rustic campground
Trough Creek Lodge: This renovated, historic, two-story, stone home is available for rental year-round. The stone was covered with stucco and scribed to look like brick, a common practice when the home was built.
Originally constructed in the mid-1800s as an ironmaster’s home, it has a modern eat-in kitchen, two bathrooms, four bedrooms and central heat. The home has spacious porches, yard areas and sits atop a hill overlooking Paradise Furnace. The lodge is accessible for people with disabilities.
Explore cabins for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Snowmobiling: The park serves as a trailhead for trails on Rothrock State Forest lands. Parking and restrooms are provided at Pavilion 1 and along Terrace Mountain Road near the campground. A snowmobile trail map is available at the park office.
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.
Trough Creek State Park is in the Valley and Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains. Once a great mountain range, weathering and running water reduced the Appalachians into long, narrow, sweeping ridges. Great Trough Creek carved away at the ridges creating the unique geologic features seen today. The gorge is still undergoing slow geologic changes as Great Trough Creek continues to erode the valley.
For detailed information on Balanced Rock and Ice Mine, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey created the brochure Trail of Geology 1 Park Guide.
Ice Mine: While building a railroad line, workers likely discovered cold air flowing from the mountain side, a natural refrigerator. In the 1930s, the CCC developed the site as one of three tourist ice mine sites in the state.
In winter, cold air diffuses into spaces between the rocks of the hillside. In spring and summer, cold air flows down through the spaces between the rocks and into Ice Mine. In the past, this caused snowmelt and moisture in the air to refreeze in the entrance of Ice Mine. Today, little ice forms in Ice Mine, likely because the stone wall around Ice Mine blocks the snowmelt. During the spring and summer, visitors can still experience the chill of winter by stepping down into Ice Mine.
Balanced Rock: This huge boulder is perched on the edge of a cliff, looking ready to fall off at any moment into Great Trough Creek far below. Balanced Rock, an “erosion remnant,” has hung there for thousands of years. The rock was once part of a cliff with layers of hard and soft rocks. Soft rocks below Balanced Rock eroded away first, easing Balanced Rock into its current position.
All of the other rocks of the cliff eroded away or fell over the cliff, leaving only Balanced Rock. To preserve the natural beauty of Balanced Rock, please do not spray paint or vandalize any natural features.
Copperas Rocks: Copperas Rocks is named for the coppery-yellow stain on the cliff surface. The crystalline, yellow precipitate is ferrous sulfate that leaches from a small pocket of coal. Although this substance is one of the main pollutants in abandoned mine drainage, the small quantity here is not harmful to the stream. Early settlers possibly used ferrous sulfate as a mordant for setting the dye color in cloth.
Rainbow Falls: The waters of Abbot Run cascade in a lovely waterfall that is easily viewed from Abbot Run Trail. The waterfall is best viewed in the early spring and after a heavy rain.
Trough Creek Drive is a great place to see woodland birds, like scarlet tanager, veery, waterthrush, nuthatch, vireo, wood-pewee, chickadee and pileated woodpecker.
Hiking trails are avenues to see spring wildflowers and hear or see spring warblers. Trails are lined with mountain laurel, which blooms in mid-June, and rhododendron, which blooms in early July.
Copperhead, timber rattlesnake and five-lined skink can often be found sunning on rock outcrops throughout the park. Skinks also sun on the old dam. Black bear, white-tailed deer and turkey are often seen along Little Valley Road, just before entering the park. Osprey and bald eagles often fish Great Trough Creek, especially at the northern end of the park.
The Appalachian Mountains blocked the movement of settlers from the east, delaying the settlement of the Great Trough Creek Gorge until Nicholas Crum traveled northeast from Baltimore in 1785. Crum harnessed the power of the creek with a turbine gristmill to grind grain. George Knoblough followed and in 1789 built a short-lived bloomery to smelt iron.
Attracted by the gorge’s natural resources of iron ore, limestone, trees and water power, Rueben Trexler, an ironmaster from Berks County, Pennsylvania, constructed a bloomery in 1818. Trexler partnered with his father-in-law Jacob Lesher, another Berks County Ironmaster, to build Trough Creek Furnace which produced far more pig iron than the bloomery. Charcoal fueled the furnace, requiring an acre a day of trees to produce the charcoal required.
John Savage, of Philadelphia, leased the furnace in 1832, renaming it Mary Ann Furnace, and built Savage Forge to process the pig iron into bar iron. William Firmstone, an Englishman with knowledge of European iron making techniques, managed the furnace. In 1835, for the first time in the United States, good iron was produced using coke as at fuel at Mary Ann Furnace. The process lasted for one month, then ceased, likely due to the lack of coke or the high cost. Mary Ann Furnace continued smelting iron with charcoal until the 1850s or 1860s.
The demand for iron created by the American Civil War led Horatio Trexler, son of Rueben, to rename the furnace Paradise Furnace and return it to blast in 1865. The end of the Civil War and the resultant economic downturn led to Paradise Furnace going out of blast for the final time 1869.
In 1913, the railroad incorporated as the Juniata and Southern Railroad and extended the rail line seven miles to reach the Broad Top Coal and Mineral Company’s mine at Jacobs, Pennsylvania. In 1917, the mine closed and the timber was depleted. The railroad was dismantled and scrapped. Due to the need for metal for World War I, the scrap sold for more than the original cost to build the railroad. With the loss of its trees, the land was prone to floods and forest fires.
In 1933, to relieve the rampant unemployment of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The young men in the CCC received food, clothes and a small paycheck in return for building roads, trails and recreational facilities, fighting forest fires, planting trees and doing many other conservation activities.
In June of 1933, Company 1331 arrived and lived in tents while they built Camp S-57, named Camp Paradise Furnace. The young men planted trees, constructed roads and trails, and created Trough Creek State Park, which opened in 1936. World War II ended the CCC and Camp S-57 closed in 1941.
For more information on the CCC, explore The CCC Years.
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Trough Creek State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau www.raystown.org
the The Alleghenies www.thealleghenies.com
Warriors Path State Park: About 12 miles southwest of Trough Creek State Park in Saxton, Bedford County, the park is just off of PA 26. Warriors Path is a 349-acre day use park on a peninsula created by a large meander of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. Picnicking, river fishing and hiking are popular recreational activities. 814-658-3847
Rothrock State Forest: Over 97,000 acres of state forest land in Huntingdon County provides wooded land for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, hiking and low impact recreation. 814-643-2340
Raystown Lake: This major recreation area administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encompasses 29,300 acres including a 30-mile long, narrow 8,300-acre lake. A variety of recreational opportunities are provided in 13 public use areas, including boat launches, marinas, camping, picnicking, swimming and fishing. 814-658-3405 raystown.nab.usace.army.mil
Maps and Downloadables
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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.
The park can be reached from Huntingdon by traveling 16 miles south along PA 26, then five miles east along PA 994 near the village of Entriken.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.31192 Long. -78.12984
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.
Trough Creek State Park