Nestled in on the side of Locust Mountain and surrounded by beautiful forests, Locust Lake State Park is renowned for its great RV camping facilities and incredible nature. The crown jewel of the park is the 52-acre Locust Lake that can be found in between the two campgrounds. The park was once claimed by the Lenape, then Susquehannocks and later by New York Iroquios League of Five Nations Native Americans.
During the mid-19th century, settlers discovered anthracite coal around the area which resulted in thousands of immigrants arriving to mine coal. By the early 20th century the forests were gone and some farmers were clearing and tilling the land. After the land was sold, Locust Lake became a fishing spot and picnicking area, but while the owners were digging a lake, they found a dam that had a water wheel under seven feet of leaves and debris. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land in 1966 and Locust Lake State Park opened in 1972.
The park offers many different recreational activities, including hiking, biking and those based around the use of the lake, such as boating, fishing and swimming. Camping at the park is spectacular as some of the sites overlook the gorgeous lake. There are two different campgrounds but one only serves tent campers. In total there are 77 electric sites that offer 50 amp connections along with water hookups and 125 non-electric that also have water available. Pets are allowed at some specific campsites and peak season runs from May until September.
RV Rentals in Locust Lake State Park
Transportation in Locust Lake State Park
The most common way to access the park is by taking I-81, which is located above the park and is a major road. if you are coming from the south you could take Moss Glen Road that is an exit off US-209. The entrance to the park is in the northwest area and it serves as the access road to the camping grounds. If you are coming from the south the park is quite hard to get to if you have a big rig as there are winding roads that are heavily treed.
Mahanoy City is the closest town to the park and is around five miles from the entrance. Here you can find supplies such as gas and groceries.
If you are travelling from the north, drive on I-81 and take Exit 131B. Cross under the I-81 overpass and then you will make a left turn toward New Boston. Continue for around a mile and take a left. Follow the signs and you will reach the park entrance.
From I-81 southbound, take Exit 131A, Make a left turn then travel around another mile. Make another left and follow the signs to the park.
Parking is known to be very limited throughout all of Locust Lake State Park. There are a few ADA disability-only parking spots near the swimming area, camp store, and boat launch area. If you are coming for a day-trip dropping off passengers at the beach is prohibited. This is to to maintain a safe camping experience and limit unnecessary vehicles moving through the park.
If you are a day-use visitor you must park in the visitor parking area located at the entrance to the park. If you do this, be prepared to walk over half a mile to get to the lake.
Campgrounds and parking in Locust Lake State Park
Campsites in Locust Lake State Park
Locust Lake State Park
While there are two campgrounds at Locust Lake State Park, only one is available for RV use. Despite that, this campground is fantastic and offers a wide variety of different site locations and services. There are 77 electric sites in the campground that have water and 50 amp connections. A further 125 non-electric sites are also available that also come with water hookups. Having water hookups at all sites is rare for a campground so kudos to Locust Lake State Park for including this awesome feature. Pets are only allowed at specific sites, so check before you reserve if you have a pet that you can use the site you chose.
Other amenities in the campground include flush toilets, showers, dump station. playground, ADA disability sites and a campground concession store. Phone reception is available throughout the campground and the closest stores are around five miles away in Mahanoy City. Camping is open during the winter, weather permitting. Check the online reservation site to make sure that it is if you are thinking of coming during that time. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance.
Seasonal activities in Locust Lake State Park
The most popular summer activity in Locust Lake State Park is to get in the lake and go swimming. There is a sandy beach on the banks of the lake that is open late-May to mid-September, 8:00 A.M. to sunset. The swimming areas in the park are marked with buoys and have a maximum depth of five and a half feet. If you need concessions they are available from the camp store. Smoking is not allowed on the beach and in the swimming area.
Another popular summer activity is doing some boating out on the lake. There is one boat launch to get you on Locust Lake and the lake allows for both motorboats and non-motorized boats. If you want to boat but you don't have a vessel, there is a seasonal boat rental concession that offers canoes, paddle boards, kayaks, row boats and pedal boats. Motorboats must have and display a current boat registration and non-powered boats must have a boat registration, launch permit or mooring permit.
Locust Lake is a coldwater fishery. The lake receives several stockings of brown and brook trout annually so hopefully you will get a good catch! If you don't have a boat a popular spot to fish is on the ADA accessible fishing pier by the program pavilion, which is located on the north side of the lake. Some of the other common fish species include pickerel, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and panfish. During the winter ice fishing is also permitted on the natural ice in the lake.
Locust Lake State Park is a haven for hikers with over six miles of trails available for you to explore. There are four main trails in the park that wind through different parts of the forest and woodland. If you want a challenge, the Oak Loop Trails is the longest at around four miles and the most difficult to hike in the park. This trail encircles a ridge that is covered by a mature forest so you will see some amazing scenery.
During the established seasons you will be able to hunt in Locust State Park if that's your thing. There will be around 1,700 acres available for you to explore which are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs. There are special regulations areas within the park that allow only bow and arrow and flintlock muzzleloader hunting. Common species to hunt include pheasant, deer, rabbit, turkey, squirrel, grouse and dove. Hunting of woodchucks is not allowed and you should check in at the park office before you start hunting.
Once the winter really sets in, Locust Lake can freeze over and transform into a winter wonderland where you can skate the day away. The ice thickness is not monitored, so you need to take precautions before you start skating. A great way to do this is to test the ice thickness with an auger before skating. Four inches of solid ice is the minimum recommended thickness for a single person and at least seven inches for a group of people. You must also bring your own skates and other equipment you want to use as there will be none available for rent.