Tuscarora State Park
When viewed from the lake or the day-use area, Locust Mountain seems to drop right into the southern side of Tuscarora Lake. The scenic picnic area plays host to many day trips and family reunions and the lake is a popular fishing spot. The 1,618-acre park is home to the park office and visitor center for Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks. Visitors are welcome to gather information about the parks, the environmental education program and local attractions. Locust Lake State Park is nearby.
Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. The park office is open specific hours. The beach, overnight areas, and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours.
Picnicking: Over 250 picnic tables are available year-round. Two 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. Modern restrooms are available April through October.
Swimming: The sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8:00 AM to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming. Swimming areas are marked with buoys and have a maximum depth of 5 1/2 feet.
Smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use the beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and other handheld, lighted smoking devices.
Explore swimming for more information.
Snack Bar: Lakeside Concessions opens May 21 and is open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Birthday parties are available. Contact Bill Sears, 570-467-2301, e-mail: lakesideconcessions(a)comcast.net
Boating: electric motors only The 96-acre Tuscarora Lake has a boat launch and boat mooring. The 125 seasonal boat mooring spaces and 20 canoe racks are available April 1 through October 31. A state park mooring permit can be purchased at the park office.
A boat rental near the beach is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day (weekends during Spring and Fall). Rowboats, canoes and specialty craft, like pedal boats and kayaks, are available for rent on an hourly or daily basis.
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 96-acre Tuscarora Lake is a warm-water fishery. Popular species are bass, muskellunge, pickerel, catfish, yellow perch and sunfish. Night fishing is permitted. There is an ADA accessible fishing pier at the boat launch.
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 1,100 acres of Tuscarora State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, grouse and dove. Special regulations areas allowing only bow and arrow and flintlock muzzleloader hunting are located by the park entrance of Tuscarora.
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 vehicle or enclosed trailer. 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.
The trails wander through several habitats like mature deciduous forest, meadow and agricultural fields.
Crow Trail: 1.4 miles, easiest hiking, yellow blazes
Forest Edge Trail: 0.4 mile, easiest hiking
Lake View Trail: 0.6 mile, easiest hiking, yellow blazes
A 5.5-mile loop around Tuscarora Lake can be made by hiking Lake View, Spirit of Tuscarora and Crow trails.
Laurel Trail: 0.4 mile, easiest hiking
Locust Mountain Trail: 0.4 mile, more difficult hiking
Old Log Trail: 0.3 mile, easiest hiking
Spirit of Tuscarora Trail: 4.5 miles, more difficult hiking; red, white and yellow blazes
Camping Cottages: Six cottages sleep five people in bunk beds, and have windows, porch, picnic table, fire ring, and electric heat, lights and outlets. Cottages are available the Friday before the regional opening day of trout season until mid-October. A showerhouse is nearby. Pets are prohibited in the cottage area and overnight parking lots.
Yurts: These round, canvas and wood walled tents sleep five people in bunk beds, and have a refrigerator, four-burner electric range, microwave oven, countertop and oak cabinetry, kitchen table and chairs, wall mounted fan, skylight, vented roof, two windows, wood flooring, large deck, picnic table and fire ring, and electric heat, lights and outlets. The four yurts are available the Friday before the regional opening day of trout season until mid-October. A showerhouse is nearby. Pets are prohibited in the yurt area and overnight parking lots.
Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is permitted during the winter season with trout being the primary species caught. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Ice Skating: Ice skating is permitted on the lake as natural conditions permit. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks offer a wide variety of environmental education, recreational 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 youth groups. An environmental education specialist is available to develop EE curriculums and provide teacher workshops and additional teacher and community services. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office.
Programs are offered March to November. For more detailed information, contact the park office.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
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.
There are many opportunities to see wildlife, but please observe from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.
Because of its location in the Appalachian Mountain section of the Ridge and Valley Province, Locust Valley is positioned along the migration route used by many species of birds of prey, including red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, merlins and ospreys. Screech owls and great-horned owls are year-round residents.
Natural Resources of the Locust Valley
Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks are six miles from each other in the Locust Valley. Locust Lake is in the western side of the valley near the headwaters of Locust Creek. After meandering east six miles along Locust Mountain, Locust Creek flows into Tuscarora Lake and eventually to the Schuylkill River. Surrounded by lands that were strip-mined for coal, Locust Valley is a green oasis of forests and wetlands abounding in wildlife.
A Striking Difference
In contrast to the strip-mined lands surrounding the Locust Valley, Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks are lush forests, fields and wetlands.
Although extensively logged in the 1800s, the land is reforested with second and third growth timber. The mixed oak forest contains scattered patches of eastern hemlock and white pine, but is dominated by northern red oak, chestnut oak, white oak and other trees like sycamore, yellow birch, red maple, white ash and tulip poplar. The diversity of trees supplies food for squirrel, chipmunk, bear, deer, turkey and grouse, and provides nesting sites and cover for wildlife.
To slow soil erosion, over 110 acres of fields in Tuscarora State Park were planted with Austrian, eastern white, red and pitch pines, Japanese and European larches, Norway and white spruces, and eastern hemlocks. In 1966, about 50,000 trees of each species were planted. Look for areas where the trees are all in rows and are the same species to find these tree plantations.
A variety of smaller trees and shrubs grow under the large trees and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Ironwood and spicebush are good browse for deer. Black locust, flowering and silky dogwood, mountain laurel, rhododendron, blueberry and serviceberry have beautiful flowers and edible fruit and seeds for wildlife. Ferns, wildflowers, herbs and grasses on the forest floor provide shelter and runways for smaller animals like mice, chipmunks, snakes, salamanders and insects. Locust Lake State Park boasts 15 species of ferns and over 240 species of wildflowers.
Both state parks manage several fields for wildlife food and habitat. These meadows support a complex food web of plants, insects and animals. There are about 134 acres of open fields by the entrance of Tuscarora State Park. These old fields and upland meadows contain natural herbaceous vegetation and are managed for plant diversity by periodic mowing. Small “islands” in each area are not mowed and allowed to grow. Also, permanent brush fields are maintained for wildlife. These 96 acres are planted with cover or food for wildlife. Some of the shrubs are blueberry, huckleberry and scrub oak.
The edges of Locust Creek and Tuscarora and Locust lakes are riparian areas, also called wetlands. The often-wet soil is inhospitable to many plants, but sphagnum moss, rushes, burreed, skunk cabbage and cattails can only live in wetlands. This vegetation is important to the ecosystem of the lake. Plants provide food for fish and wildlife, hiding places for smaller organisms, spawning and nursery areas for fish, and contribute to the dissolved oxygen supply. Aquatic vegetation in the lakes like milifoil, coontail, cattail and curlyleaf pondweed are homes to insect larvae like dragonflies and mayflies.
Many unique animals depend on wetlands. In and around water at Tuscarora and Locust Lake state parks, you can see pickerel frogs, bullfrogs, red-spotted newts, great blue herons, painted turtles, crayfish, water snakes and many fish and waterfowl.
Wetlands are not only important to plants and animals, but provide a great service to people. Wetlands slow floods and clean water and are one reason that the water in the Locust Valley is so clean.
History of the Park
Before European Settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, a deep forest of hemlock, white pine, ash, hickory, elm, oak, cherry and American chestnut covered the Locust Valley.
The Lenni Lenape claimed the land, then it was conquered by the Susquehannocks, and finally controlled by the New York Iroquois League of Five Nations.
When settlers discovered anthracite coal in Schuylkill County, immigrants swiftly arrived for the mining jobs reaching the Locust Valley in the mid-1800s. It was not economically feasible to mine the coal in the Locust Valley, but the area did not escape the American Industrial Revolution.
The forests fell to the logger’s ax as sawmills turned the trees into lumber, shingles, tool handles and other wood products. Tanneries crushed hemlock and white pine bark for tanning leather. Colliers burned chestnuts and oaks into charcoal. Strong timbers supported the roofs of mines. The forests were gone by the early 1900s, replaced by shrubby land prone to seasonal floods and forest fires. Some farmers tilled the cleared land.
Tuscarora State Park was purchased in the early 1960s. The U.S. Soil Conservation Service and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania constructed the dam for flood control and recreation. Tuscarora State Park officially opened on June 26, 1971.
The Tuscarora Indians
The Tuscarora Tribe of American Indians dwelled in small villages along several major rivers in the coastal plains of North Carolina. After contact with European traders, the Tuscarora became avid fur traders. Land-hungry settlers dealt unfairly with the Tuscarora. Years of unequal trade, mistrust and even kidnapping of Tuscarora children for slaves finally escalated into the Tuscarora War from 1711 to 1713.
The Tuscarora were defeated and asked for help from their powerful New York relatives, the League of Five Nations. The League sent this message to Governor Robert Hunter of New York:
"Tuscarore Indians are come to shelter themselves among the five nations they were of us and went from us long ago and are now returned. . .we desire you to look upon the Tuscarores that are come to live among us as our Children who shall obey our commands & live peaceably and orderly."
O'Callaghan and Fernow (eds.), Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, V, 387.
Beginning in 1714 and continuing for 90 years, bands of Tuscarora migrated from North Carolina to southern New York. Most of the families followed the Tuscarora Path up the valleys of the Susquehanna River to New York, but many also made their own paths. All along the routes, many mountains, streams, valleys and towns bear the name Tuscarora, evidence of this 500-mile migration.
Local tradition holds that sometime between 1715 and 1722 the Tuscarora briefly dwelled in the Locust Valley.
The League of Five Nations welcomed the Tuscarora and made them the sixth nation in the League. Although not equal with the other five tribes, the Tuscarora voiced their opinions through one of the other tribes.
Today, 700 Tuscarora Indians are still part of the League of Six Nations and now have equality with the other tribes. Tuscarora State Park was name d to honor these transient residents of Pennsylvania.
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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.
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Tuscarora State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau. www.schuylkill.org
Locust Lake State Park is six miles from Tuscarora. The park was developed as a family tent and trailer campground and has 282 campsites. Additional camper facilities include modern restrooms, swimming beach, boat rental, campstore, bicycle trail, hiking trails, fishing, playgrounds, and nature programs.
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:
Tuscarora State Park Map (.pdf) (1,886 kb, 6/13)
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.
From I-81 northbound, take Exit 131A to PA 54 north and follow signs to the park.
From I-81 southbound, take Exit 131A, right turn to PA 54 north and follow signs to the park.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.8092 Long. -76.02063
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.
Tuscarora State Park