The Best State Parks for Nature Lovers in Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, USA
Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, USA. Photo by John Kostyk on Unsplash

True to its name, which literally means “Penn’s woods,” Pennsylvania is home to over 100 state parks across 300,000 acres of forested land. While each park is unique, the state’s landscape gives them all a certain tranquil beauty that serves as an ideal backdrop for a wide variety of outdoor activities. If you live in Pennsylvania or are planning a trip to the Keystone State soon, read on to learn more about some of its top state parks.

Ohiopyle State Park

In southwest PA, Ohiopyle State Park sits along the Youghiogheny River as a haven for nature and watersports enthusiasts alike. Visitors can choose from any of 22 trails for a scenic hike to one of the park’s waterfalls, or take things up a notch with some white-water rafting. Several miles of the river even feature gentle rapids that are perfect for those after a family-friendly adventure. 

Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen in central Pennsylvania is home to a stunning collection of over 20 waterfalls, ranging from delicate cascades to 90-foot plunges. The Falls Trail, a challenging but rewarding hike, offers visitors a front-row seat to the falls as well as an abundance of local flora and fauna—including black bears and bald eagles!

Hickory Run State Park

A visit to Hickory Run State Park is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Pocono Mountains. Unique to the park is the striking Boulder Field, a 16-acre expanse of sandstone glacial rocks measuring up to 30 feet in length. Hickory Run also features a large lake where visitors are free to swim in the summer and ice skate during winter.