The 968-acre Parker Dam State Park offers old-fashioned charm and character. A scenic lake, rustic cabins, quaint campground, and unbounded forest make Parker Dam an ideal spot for a relaxing vacation.
For wilderness explorers, Parker Dam is a gateway to the vast expanses of Moshannon State Forest. You can:
Walk through recovering tornado ravaged woods
Backpack into the 50,000-acre Quehanna Wilderness
Mountain bike to your heart’s content
Enjoy quiet solitude searching for elusive Pennsylvania elk
Hiking at Parker Dam State Park
16 miles of trails
Many hiking trails begin or pass through Parker Dam State Park and continue into the surrounding Moshannon State Forest. Some trails travel through the tornado blowdown, while others follow along streams or through hardwood forests. Hike the Trail of New Giants and then Souder Trail to compare a young forest to a mature forest.
Abbot Hollow Trail
1.7 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
Explore a wilderness valley devastated by a tornado in 1985, then salvage-logged in 1986. The varying habitats caused by the blowdown, the logging roads, gas well sites, and beaver dams give the hiker many opportunities to view diverse wildlife.
Beaver Dam Trail
2.3 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail along Mud Run traverses good beaver habitat. Be on the lookout for signs of this amazing creature, like cuttings, tracks, lodges, and dams.
1.6 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail is a walk down memory lane to the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This was the road used daily for travel between the residential CCC camp (now the Organized Group Tenting Area) and the work site at the dam.
Now the road serves as a trail, making its way through pleasant pine plantations, traversing from Tyler Road to a point on Mud Run Road. A connector trail leads to Laurel Run Trail.
Laurel Run Trail
1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Long used by fishermen and more recently by loggers, this trail starts near the campground bridge, follows Laurel Run, and winds through the tornado blowdown area.
0.5 mile, orange blazes, easiest hiking
By the trailhead is an authentic reproduction of a log slide, used in the 1870s to haul logs out of the forest. A display shows other logging tools. Look along the trail for places where the Civilian Conservation Corps cut stone in the 1930s to build Parker Dam. The trail connects with Stumpfield Trail via a pipeline and is part of the Quehanna Trail, which is blazed in orange.
1.4 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This trail winds through hardwood trees. It connects Souders Trail with Mud Run Road.
1.6 miles, blue blazes and orange diamonds, easiest hiking
The trail starts on Beaver Dam Trail and connects with Moose Grade Road. Popular with snowmobilers, hunters, and cross-country skiers, Snow Trail offers a pleasant hike in the wilderness.
0.75 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This scenic loop trail features Laurel Run, lush meadows, and large hardwood and evergreen trees.
3.5 miles, orange or yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Start on Fairview Road and follow the old railroad spur that had been used from 1910 to 1913 to log the area.
0.5 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Begin at the campground amphitheater and traverse a meadow that was once a forest of pine and hemlock. Look for large stumps left from logging at the turn of the 20th century. Stunted trees and thick shrubs are evidence of repeated wildfires that destroyed topsoil and slowed forest regrowth. This trail connects with Logslide Trail via a pipeline.
Sullivan Ridge Trail
1.4 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
This trail follows logging roads along the top of Sullivan Mountain, offering scenic overlooks of Moose Run Valley. Sullivan Ridge Trail connects Snow Trail with Abbot Hollow Trail. This trail is not suitable for cross-country skiing.
Tornado Alley Trail
0.5 mile, blue blazes, easiest hiking
This logging road connects Sullivan Ridge Trail with the cabin area. It offers a panoramic view of the tornado damage in Abbot Hollow.
Trail of New Giants
1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
On May 31, 1985, one of Pennsylvania’s largest and strongest tornadoes roared through the park and destroyed the towering forest of ash, oak, beech, and sugar maple trees. The Trail of New Giants cuts through the blowdown and the 250-acre Windstorm Preserve. Walk the trail and see the forest regenerating.
A spur trail leads to a beautiful vista of the park and surrounding forest.
73 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
This trail travels from the park through the Quehanna Wild Area. The backpack trail loops range from one to seven days. Only experienced hikers should use these wilderness trails. The main trail is blazed in orange. Connector trails are blazed in yellow.
The Quehanna Area Trails ClubOpens In A New Window maintians the trail and has additional information.
Picnicking at Parker Dam State Park
This activity or structure is ADA accessible.
Many picnic tables are scattered through a mostly wooded area. Charcoal grills, restrooms, and drinking fountains are nearby.
Of the seven picnic pavilions, five have lights and electric outlets. Choose from:
Modern, open pavilions
Cozy, stone, CCC-built pavilions
Each picnic pavilion holds about 75 people.
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.
Stay the Night at Parker Dam State Park
flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
This activity or structure is ADA accessible.
The camping area is on the eastern edge of the lake and has completely shaded sites to open grassy sites.
It is open from the second Friday in April through mid-December, and has a sanitary dump station.
Electric hook-ups are available at most campsites. Some sites have full-service hook up, which includes:
Pets are permitted on designated sites
The maximum stay is 14 days during the summer season and 21 days during the off season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours between stays.
A seasonal camp store has camping equipment and supplies.
Swimming at Parker Dam State Park
The beautiful sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, from 8:00 A.M. to sunset.
The maximum water depth is five feet at the buoy line.
Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules.
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:
Other handheld, lighted smoking devices
Wildlife Watching at Parker Dam State Park
Parker Dam State Park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest harbor deep forests where wildlife thrives in unbroken wilderness.
In conifer forests, look for ravens and black-throated green and Blackburnian warblers.
The shy ovenbird and American redstart make the deciduous forest their home.
Look for turkey in Abbot Hollow and along Laurel Ridge and Mud Run roads.
Evenings are great for wildlife watching.
White-tailed deer feed by the park office, ball field, or near Picnic Pavilion Seven.
A drive on Tyler Road might yield a coyote or fox. Look for the elusive bobcat, free-ranging elk, or porcupine in the tornado blowdown area in the evening.
Watch for beaver on Mud Run, Abbot Run, or on the campground side of the lake.
Please do not feed wildlife and observe from a safe distance.
Boating at Parker Dam State Park
electric motors only
The 20-acre Parker Lake has courtesy mooring spaces for overnight guests.
Fishing at Parker Dam State Park
The 20-acre Parker Lake and many trout streams are popular with anglers throughout the year. Brook trout are stocked during the spring, fall, and winter.
Common species are:
Brown bullhead catfish
Ice fishing is permitted. Trout are most often caught through the ice.
Ice thickness is not monitored.
Hunting at Parker Dam State Park
During established seasons, about 807 acres are open to:
Training of dogs
Common game species are:
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.
Sledding at Parker Dam State Park
A small sledding and toboggan run is near the boat rental area.
A larger sledding hill is on the power line on Mud Run Road. Park in the Sugar Shack parking lot.
Cross-country Skiing at Parker Dam State Park
Conditions permitting, groomed ski trails are maintained on Beaver Dam, Souders, CCC, and Skunk trails.
Snowshoes can be used throughout the park.
Ice Skating at Parker Dam State Park
Conditions permitting, an ice skating area is maintained at the swimming area.
Ice thickness is monitored for safety.
Snowmobiling at Parker Dam State Park
Unload your registered snowmobile in the park to gain access to the extensive trail system on the adjacent state forest land.
Snowmobiling is permitted on selected trails and joint-use roads.
The snowmobile trails are open daily after the end of deer season in December until April 1, conditions permitting.