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Old 08-11-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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We are in the process of planning a cheap vacation, not going too far from home in SE Pennsylvania. We would like to stay in PA.

Beautiful scenery (easy hikes or scenic drives) are great, and we both enjoy areas of historic importance. Most of all, we would like to have the chance to see some wild life.

We will probably be renting a cabin in a state park. I can find cabin/camping information online. I'm hoping that some of you who have been in PA longer than we have can tell us about your favorite place for an inexpensive vacation. What's your favorite PA state park?
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:41 PM
 
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I'd pick Colton state park or any of the parks in the Pine Creek area. This area has probably the most wildlife (bears, deer, rattle snakes, turkey, elk herd not too far away), the most dramatic and rugged terrain, the most amount of public land, and the best rail-trail along the Pine Creek.

The other park that stands out is Presque Isle in Erie... the park is small but it doesn't seem small, it may be the most unique in PA since it's a peninsula into Lake Erie. You've got miles of sand beaches and great sunsets on one side, the bay towards Erie on the other side, lagoons, ponds, and woods on the inside, and miles of paved trails.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:52 AM
 
Location: SouthEastern PeeAye
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Colton Point (and sister park Leonard Harrison) would made my top five.

Sinnemahoning SP. Large, deserted, lots of hikes and WL in the surrounding state forests. And near the PA Elk Herd.

Cherry Springs SP, try this for something interesting that you wouldn't think is available in the middle of nowhere in northern PA, the star gazing and night sky viewing. I saw a schedule where there's a meteor shower coming up sometime in August. Ever seen the Milky Way in full view? Search for >"Cherry Springs State Park" night sky pictures< if interested.

Rickett's Glen SP is far and away at the very top for me. For hiking and scenery, nothing else comes close.

World's End SP rounds out the list of top five. Do some hiking, (lots of options for this), then go soak in Loyalsock Creek in one of the mini-whirlpools created by the cold creek waters flowing around all the big rounded-rocks in the stream bed.

I'm speaking from an 'eastern part of the state' perspective.

BTW, cabin rentals in state parks tend to be fully booked in the summer.
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Old 08-12-2010, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
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My hands-down favorite is Presque Isle; there's nothing like it anywhere.

But there are no cabins or campsites within the park.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:53 AM
 
Location: SouthEastern PeeAye
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More on that Meteor Shower, it's supposed to occur Friday morning, 8/13: Meteor shower August 2010: how you can get the best view - CSMonitor.com
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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I'm partial to Trough Creek but I like to hike so that may be why. Much quieter than the zoo-like Raystown Lake nearby.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Philly
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I've always wanted to go to rickett's glen. anyone been to blue knob?
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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Default Thanks for your help!

Thanks to all for the recommendations. I have spent some time researching and--

PA native--it is indeed hard to find an open reservation (we're looking for 3rd week of Sept.). Ricket's Glen has only one night we could take, but has a two night minimum. Does look like a great park, so we'll try again some other time.

Similar problem with Sinnemahoning. Cherry Springs sounds intriguing, but no cabins. Is it the one with the bat colonies?--or am I thinking of another?

Many of these parks are near towns that rent cabins/cottages, but if we vacation in a forest we want to wake up in it and go to sleep in it.

We have decided to check out Presque Isle (staying in nearby cottage). I haven't seen that much of the Great Lakes and it sounds nice.

We'll have to start the reservations process earlier next time. I must say I am impressed by the PA state park system--lots of choices.

--And, one more thing. Has anyone been to Cook forest SP? Looks easier to get a cabin there.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:57 PM
 
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Cook Forest has possibly the closest stand of Penn's original woods anywhere in the state. Other old growth areas have only hemlock, but Cook Forest has un-cut white pine too. Thus the Forest Cathedral is a unique experience. The Clarion River valley is beautiful and nearby Clear Creek SP (I haven't been to Clear Creek) is said to be a hiker's delight.

A couple of negatives about Cook Forest is that the main road both sides of the park has the kind of kitschy crap that used to be associated with the Poconos. Also PA 36 has much truck traffic so you hear jake brakes in the Forest Cathedral too.

Cook Forest area can also be used as a base for exploring the south end of nearby Allegheny National Forest. Even towards Clarion the North Country Trail is a nice hike across private land but no loops, you'd either go in and out or need two cars, and also need detailed NCT maps to find your way.

Presque Isle is an intriguing park and unique in PA - in fact we were just there last week. Anything nearby would likely be in an urban or suburban area though, it does border PA's 4th largest city after all.

No one's yet mentioned Hills Creek State Park in Tioga County - its cabins are both nice and nicely situated. It's a little closer for most of us than Colton Point and a little known fact is that PA's longest hiking trail goes right through it so even though the Park is small you can get away in the woods near it if you'd like, or drive over to Wellsboro and the "Grand Canyon", too.

Parker Dam has nicely restored CCC cabins, its long access road isolates it from coal and gas trucks to its west, and to its east is the intriguing Quehanna area laced with trails forming many loops. Others always see elk when they go there but they hide from me!
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:39 PM
 
Location: SouthEastern PeeAye
889 posts, read 2,574,340 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisea View Post
....Cherry Springs sounds intriguing, but no cabins. Is it the one with the bat colonies?--or am I thinking of another?
No bats. It's claim to fame is being designated a Dark Sky Park, good explanation here. It is however, surrounded by the Susquehannock State Forest, and there's loads and loads of trails in that SF (map, 7 Mb download). If you want an 'out in the forest' place to stay, look at the Potato City Country Inn. It's on a hilltop a few miles from Cherry Springs SP, and you do get the away form it all feeling there. It's a mop and pop kind of place, that locals use for the restaurant, and travelers use instead of camping.

I really wish I would have planned to go see the meteor shower at Cherry Springs this weekend.
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