With the beautiful Chapman Reservoir at its core, this state park offers opportunities for hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, hunting, and more. The park's few footpaths lead to a much larger trail network within the National Forest, and a quick drive will take you to trails that lead through Heart's Content Recreation Site or the Hickory Creek Wilderness Area, both of which present stunning examples of Pennsylvania's remaining old-growth forests.
During the warmer months, fishing is great both at Chapman Reservoir and in the quiet forest brooks that fill the Allegheny's woods. During the winter, ice-fishing is popular on the park's reservoir and others like it nearby. Also, a big draw during winter are the park's opportunities for skating, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
Avid naturalists will appreciate the park's floral and faunal diversity. Avian diversity is particularly high, and during the migratory season, visitors may see dozens of different species of neotropical migrants, such as warblers, vireos, redstarts, redpolls, and more.
Several overnight accommodations are available at Chapman. The park's modern campground has 80 sites, most of which are suitable for RVs and trailers. There are also about a dozen primitive walk-in, tent-camping sites, as well as several cottages and yurts that can be booked for overnight stays.
Chapman State Park is located just a few miles off of US-6, which cuts east-west across much of northern Pennsylvania. The main rural road leading to the park is paved, though it's narrow and winding in some sections, so those driving larger rigs or hauling large trailers will want to take things slow. Other approaches to the park may require driving short stretches on gravel roads.
Roads may be particularly hazardous during the winter months, as the region gets plenty of ice, snow, and slush. Take extra precautions and make sure to check the forecast in advance of your trip!
The nearest towns include the small hamlet of Clarendon, just ten minutes to the east, and the larger town of Warren, about 20 minutes to the north of the park.
Sites at the main RV campground are all back-in, though drivers should have little trouble maneuvering so long as they're within their site's length limits. Parking at the campground will put you within walking distance of Chapman Lake, the park amphitheater, and a couple of trailheads. Limited additional parking is available at the park office and at the beach/day-use area.
There's also parking available at nearby trailheads and scenic sites, such as Heart's Content Scenic Area, within the National Forest.
Situated on the eastern end of scenic Chapman Lake, Chapman State Park's primary campground has about 80 sites, most of which are suitable for RVs and trailers. Spots are partly or mostly shaded under a dense and diverse canopy that includes maples, oaks, hickories, cherries, birches, hemlocks, and more. The sylvan setting means bird-watching and wildlife viewing can be done right from your campsite.
Of the campground's 80 sites, over 50 offer electric hookups, including 30- and 50-amp service. Water and sewage hookups are not available at most sites. There is only one host site available that offers full hookups. However, the campground does have freshwater spigots and a sanitary dump station. Modern restrooms are available too.
Chapman's main campground is open from mid-April through mid-December, with peak visitation occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Spaces can be reserved, up to 11 months in advance, using the park's online booking system.
Unfilled sites can be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. During the peak season, though, reservations are highly recommended.
If you're tent camping and looking for some added solitude, or perhaps you're just interested in roughing it, Chapman boasts some beautiful and secluded walk-in campsites. Located in the woods just to the south of the main campground, 13 walk-up sites are spread across several acres.
The sites' settings vary, with some being heavily wooded, others being located in small clearings, and still, others being located along a small creek that feeds into Chapman Lake. The park's online reservation guide has photos of each site, so you can choose the one you think suits you best.
Sites are all primitive, with only fire rings and grills being provided. The main campground, however, is no more than a few hundred feet away, so all of its amenities, including restrooms and water spigots, are easily accessible. Reservations for walk-in sites can be made online.
Tucked into a quiet spur along the main campground road are five cottages and two yurts. These cozy abodes, set underneath thick canopies and offering great views, are excellent overnight lodging options if you're looking for some extra comforts but still want to remain in the heart of the park.
Both cottages and yurts sport bunk beds, electric outlets and heat, and some basic furniture. Cottages have roofed (though not screened) porches, while yurts boast some extra furnishings, including fridges, microwaves, and stovetops. Campground amenities, including water spigots and restrooms, are within easy walking distance.
Cottages and yurts both also have picnic tables, fire rings, and outdoor grills. One of each is ADA-accessible. Reservations for the park's cottages and yurts can be made online, through the same website as for normal campsite reservations. Cottages sleep a maximum of five, while yurts can sleep six.
If you're planning a family reunion, scouting troop meeting, or some other large gathering, you may want to look into Chapman State Park's group camping options.
Chapman's group campgrounds are set in an open, grassy area on the western side of the Chapman Reservoir, opposite the side the main RV campground is on. Facilities are primitive, with no hookups available. Several picnic tables and fire rings are provided, though, and restrooms are within walking distance.
Group camping is tent-only. If you're interested in making a reservation, you should call the park directly (reservations can't be made online).
From placid Chapman Lake to the verdant forests in and around the park, Chapman State Park presents no shortage of gorgeous photographic subjects.
Photographers and naturalists alike will want to take the short trip to nearby Heart's Content Recreation Site. Just a few minute's drive away, this area contains some of the spectacular remaining tracts of old-growth forest in the eastern United States. Centuries-old white pine, hemlock, and beech trees grow to towering heights in this ancient woodland.
One of the best times to photograph in the area is during the fall when shorter days and colder temps trigger a dazzling display of color among the Allegheny's mixed hardwood forests.
Hunting is permitted both at Chapman State Park in designated areas and on the surrounding state and national forest lands. The region's extensive, relatively undisturbed forests provide a spectacular setting for any hunting trip.
The most commonly pursued game species here include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear, and squirrel. Trapping, of some species, is also allowed, as is dog training. Make sure you hunt within accordance of the rules set out by Pennsylvania's Game Commission.
Winter sees far fewer visitors at Chapman, but it also sees a sylvan landscape transformed by snow. The park's lake and woods, bustling with activity during the summer, are turned into a quiet winter wonderland. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and ice-skating are all popular here during the off-season.
About 4.5 miles of groomed skiing trails can be found around the park while venturing further into Allegheny National Forest will offer up even more options. The park also boasts a great sledding hill that's lit up during the winter months. With skates, you can sail across the icy surface of Chapman Lake, or you could head over to the park office's own skating rink.
Scenic and well-stocked waters await anglers at Chapman State Park. Head out on a boat or cast a line from the shore. Either way, you can expect to pull up species including largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegill, and yellow perch.
The fishing opportunities are by no means limited to Chapman, however. Allegheny National Forest, surrounding the park, is crisscrossed by dozens of waterways, ranging from quiet streams to the formidable Allegheny River itself. Brook trout fishing is very popular here. There are several lakes and reservoirs too, which may offer up walleye, catfish, pike, and more.
Wherever you decide to go fishing, make sure you have a valid Pennsylvania state fishing license!
July and August routinely see temperatures in the 80s and beyond at Chapman State Park. Humidity can be quite high too. On days like those, a dip into the cool waters of Chapman Lake can be just the ticket.
The state park has a recreation beach, open from mid-May through mid-September, with a designated swimming area. Go for a quick dip and then enjoy a sunbath or a good book on the sand. Chapman State Park does not staff lifeguards, so make sure to keep an eye on your kiddos of they go swimming!
Though Chapman State Park itself does not boast an extensive trail network, it sits surrounded by Allegheny National Forest, which does. The few miles of trails the park does have, which include the mellow Adams Run Trail and the Crooked Pine Trail, lead to longer routes in the national forest and adjoining state game lands.
Popular nearby trails in the Allegheny include the 3.5-mile Tanbark Trail, which takes visitors through a rich, mixed forest blanketed in mosses, lichens, and ferns. The Tanbark skirts the edge of the small but ruggedly beautiful Hickory Creek Wilderness, which itself boasts several trails including a 12-mile loop.