Nestled 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 natural surroundings. The crown jewel of this eastern Pennslyvania park is the 52-acre Locust Lake that is the perfect location for recreational activities or just chilling out.
The history of Locust Lake State Park predates European settlers as it was used by various Native American tribes, such as the Lenape, Susquehannocks, and New York Iroquois League of Five Nations. By the early 20th century, the forests found in the area were gone, and the land was used for farming before the lake was built, and the land was sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
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, and some of the sites even overlook the gorgeous lake. There are two different campgrounds for visitors to the park, but only one that serves RV campers. In total, 77 electric sites offer 50-amp connections along with water hookups and 125 non-electric sites that also have water connections. Pets are allowed at some specific campsites, and peak season runs from May until September.
Located around two hours north of Philadelphia, the easiest way to access Locust Lake State Park is via I-81, which is located above the park and is a major road in the area. The entrance to the park is in the northwest, 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. Other towns close-by include Lower Shaft (about 9.5 miles away), Frackville (around 10 miles away), and Girardville (approximately 13 miles away). If you plan on just parking at Locust Lake and not staying the night, you may have a problem finding a place to park due to its popularity. There is a parking lot at the Visitor Center, but you'll want to get there early in the day to secure a spot. Those that are camping overnight may wish to consider bringing along bikes to get around the park rather than trying to find a parking spot near the Visitor Center.
Recharge your batteries any time of the year at Jonestown/Hershey NE KOA, featuring accommodations to make your stay the best. The campground is just a quick drive or shuttle away from downtown Hershey. With 100 foot, level pull-through sites powered with 50-amp service, you can bring almost any sized rig or tent. The general store is a perfect stop for those sweet and salty cravings. Along the Swatara Creek, at Jonestown/Hershey NE KOA, partake in fishing, swimming, and enjoy access to rentals for kayaking, canoeing, or tubing on-site. You can bike here, too! Relax with a show on cable television, stay connected with Wi-Fi, or kick back underneath the pavilion.
Whether you want to hike part of the Appalachian Trail or hit the roller coasters at Hershey Park, Allentown KOA in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania could be your next destination. Located in a beautiful valley, campers that stay here enjoy nearly 40 acres of natural seclusion featuring a stream that travels the length of the land. The campground is alcohol-free to create a more family-friendly environment. Centrally located, you can easily take trips into NYC, Philadelphia, or the Poconos. On-site, enjoy a rec center that has planned activities including movies and arts & crafts. There is also hiking available, both on-site and nearby. Other amenities include two large playgrounds, a half-court basketball court, a heated pool, cable, Wi-Fi, and full RV hookups. Each RV site is a pull-through and can accommodate up to an 80-foot rig.
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 farther 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 impressive feature. Pets are only allowed at specific sites, so check before you reserve if you have a furry friend that also enjoys camping.
Other amenities in the campground include flush toilets, showers, a dump station, a 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. A few campsites remain open during the winter, weather permitting. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you're looking to get out of the campervan for a night or two and sleep under the stars, Locust Lake State Park has a tenting campground with 75 sites on the north side of the lake. Each site can accommodate up to five people, and some are even pet-friendly. Guests will find two centrally located bathrooms with showers in the campground. Tent camping is available from April to November, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you couldn't find a place to park the rig for a night at Locust Lake State Park, there are several alternative RV camping options nearby. Gifford Pinchot State Park is around an hour to the southwest of the park and offers nearly 300 RV-friendly sites. Site lengths and amenities range from small primitive sites to spacious sites with full hookups. Head 55 miles to the south of Locust Lake, and you will find another 200 RV sites at French Creek State Park. Some sites offer electrical hookups, while others are equipped with full hookups for guests.
Once the winter sets in, Locust Lake can freeze over and transform into a winter wonderland where you can skate the day away. The lake is most popular with people who want just to skate around, but you could also break out the hockey sticks for some more high-octane fun. Ice thickness levels on the lake are not regularly monitored, so you will need to make sure that it is safe to skate on before you head out. You should bring your own skates and other equipment along in the rig, as there are no rentals available.
During the established seasons, you will be able to hunt in Locust State Park if you wish. There are around 1,700 acres available for you to explore, which are open to hunting and trapping, and you can also train your dogs for hunting. Watch for special areas within the park that allow only bow hunting or muzzleloaders. 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.
Don't forget to pack your hiking boots along in the motorhome because Locust Lake State Park is a haven for hikers. With over six miles of trails available for you to explore, you'll be able to spend the whole day or weekend exploring. 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 Trail 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 that you will see some amazing scenery along your walk. For an easier route, check out the Ridge Trail. This quarter of a mile interpretive hike will take you through wooded areas where you can learn about some of the park's various plant life on the educational signs dispersed along the trail.
When you look at the history of the Locust Valley area, it's almost hard to believe that such a lush area could exist. The area surrounding the park is barren, due to years of strip-mining for coal. But once inside park grounds, all you'll see is a green oasis of wetland habitat for an amazing number of species. Birders can search the skies for over 100 species of birds that have been spotted in the park, including migratory birds like a red-shouldered hawk, merlin, and osprey. Screech owls and great-horned owls are full-time residents to the area and can be spotted year-round. Other critters that wander the park include bear, deer, turkey, chipmunk, and grouse.
Locust Lake is a great place to throw out a line and try to catch a big one, no matter the time of year. Anglers can fish in the lake via watercraft, from the banks of the lake, or from the fishing pier (which is also ADA accessible). Locust Lake is home to many different species of fish, including brown trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, panfish, and pickerel, so you have the chance to reel in many different types of fish during your RV vacation.
Another popular summer activity is 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 didn't tow your own vessel behind the Sprinter, there is a seasonal boat rental concession that offers canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats. There are some conditions for the vessels using the lake that should be followed at all times, such as having a registration permit. Boats from outside Pennsylvania will also need a state park permit (either launching or mooring) to use the lake.
The most popular summer activity in Locust Lake State Park is to get into the lake and go swimming. There is a sandy beach on the banks of the lake that is open at the end of May to the middle of September for you to enjoy. You will be able to tell which areas you can swim in thanks to the buoys that float in the lake. If you need concessions, they are available from the camp store. Smoking is not allowed on the beach or in the swimming area.
If you're camping with the kids, don't miss out on the educational opportunities available at Locust Lake State Park. From March to November, the park offers environmental education programs for guests of all ages in the form of hands-on activities, nature walks, and interpretive programs. Check at the Visitor Center or talk with a park ranger to see what kind of programs are available during your stay.