Poe Paddy State Park proves the old adage that good things come in small packages; though the park itself is just 23 acres, visitors to Poe Paddy will find a lovely sylvan campground and access to a plethora of activities in the gorgeous woodlands of Pennsylvania’s central uplands.
One of the park’s main features is actually two features – Penn’s Creek and Big Poe Creek run right along and through the park, respectively. These tranquil waterways offer world class trout fishing, and a non-motorized boat launch on Penn’s creek gives visitors the chance to explore by raft or canoe.
Hiking trails and gravel roads leaving from the park wind their way through the surrounding Bald Eagle State Forest, a nearly 200,000-acre parcel of state-managed land in which hikers, bikers, hunters, skiers and snowmobilers can traverse valleys, reach stunning vistas, or just find some forest solitude. If you’re looking for a real challenge, hike a chunk of the Mid-State Trail, a 323-mile hiking route that goes straight through the park.
Poe Paddy offers only 14 spaces suitable for RVs, so if you’re planning on coming during the busier late-spring or summer season, make sure you make your reservations in advance.
Travel at Poe Paddy can be difficult for larger vehicles, and the maximum recommended size for those with RVs or trailers is 40 ft. The park’s two main roads, though well maintained, are both gravel, and from any direction, you’ll need to take smaller, sometimes winding roads to reach the park itself. But Poe Paddy’s location is by no means overly remote; the park is only about ten miles off of I-80. The small town of Millheim, offering groceries, gas, banks, cafes and more, is just a half-hour drive away, and the much larger town of State College is just an hour’s drive from the park. Plenty of other small shops, as well as private and state campgrounds, are in the vicinity too. The park itself does not offer any food or firewood for purchase - plan ahead so you’re well stocked before you arrive.
Once you have arrived at Poe Paddy, it’s tough to get lost. The park is only about 23 acres, so you can see clear from one end to the other.
For travelers, it’s also important to note that, while the Park remains open until mid-December, heavy snowfall can sometimes make the campground inaccessible.
The campground is composed of two small loops and one small spur; the boat launch, picnic areas are restrooms are all easily accessible by car or by foot, and there are also three additional, non-campsite parking areas.
Pennsylvania’s state parks allow for reservations up to eleven months in advance, and you’ll probably want to take advantage of their reservation system when camping at Poe Paddy, as RV options are limited. The park has fourteen RV sites, with only one of these having an electric hookup. All others have no water, sewage or electric, though some generator use is permitted (as long as it does not create "excessive noise"). If you’re traveling with furry companions, it’s also important to note that only one of the tree campsite loops allows pets.
Camping pads range in size from 20’ to 90’, with 40’ being the maximum recommended vehicle length. Recycling and trash receptacles are available at the park, as are two modern bathrooms with and showers. Poe Paddy does not have an RV sanitary dump station, but campers may use the station at Poe Valley State Park, located just three miles to the west. If you’re looking for park information, literature or permits, you can also head to the park office at Poe Valley.
Accommodations may be rustic, for the most part, but so is the park’s beauty; with two tranquil creeks running adjacent to the campground, and with its thickly wooded camping sites, Poe Paddy makes for a marvelous sylvan getaway.
Maximum stay at Poe Paddy is 14 days during the on-season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) and 21 days during the off-season (April to Memorial Day and Labor Day to Mid-December).
The 323-mile Mid-State Trail traverses ridges and forests across a large swath of central Pennsylvania; the route is often referred to as “Pennsylvania’s Wildest Trail”. The Mid-State cuts right through Poe Paddy, using two of the park’s gravel roads as a part of its route, and a hikers-only section of trail begins right at the park’s boundary. Whether you decide to go for a short day hike a multi-day backpacking trip, a hike along the Mid-State will let you immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and scents of the region’s beautiful woodlands.
Poe Paddy bills itself as an “Angler’s Paradise”, and with good reason. Poe Creek flows directly through the park’s campground, converging with the larger Penn’s Creek, and both creeks offer world-class trout fishing. A nationally renowned fly hatch, known as the Green Drake Hatch, occurs on these creeks in late May or early June. Pull on some waders, step right out of your RV door and cast a line into the clear Allegheny water. Catch or no catch, the setting alone is worth the trip.
A launch located conveniently within the park gives visitors the option to set non-motor powered boats out onto Penn’s Creek. Explore the waterway, look for riparian wildlife, such as belted kingfishers or painted turtles, or just relax and find a shady spot near the shore underneath the forest’s overhanging canopy. The dense network of State Park and State Forest land nearby also means that, should you want to check out another stream or river, you have plenty of options.
Though there are no specifically designated snowmobile trails within the park, visitors are allowed to use gravel roads as snowmobile thoroughfares, as long as they remain on state land. Snowmobiling offers a magnificent chance to explore the thick Allegheny woods during their quietest season, when pillows of snow gather on hemlock bows and the edges of woodland creeks begin to freeze. For those wishing to work up more of a sweat in this winter wonderland, cross country skiing is also an excellent and popular option.
Poe Paddy, and also the much larger, adjacent Bald Eagle State Forest both permit bow and rifle hunting. White-tailed deer are the most common game species, but hunters may also set their sights on rabbit, grouse, waterfowl, black bear, and more. A valid Pennsylvania hunter’s license is necessary to hunt on any state land, and Poe Paddy recommends particular caution when hunting within the bounds of the park (which is very small in acreage but nevertheless has many campsites, trails and other recreation areas).
Though perhaps not as famous for its color as the forests of New England or the northern Great Lakes, the Allegheny puts on an impressive display every autumn. The area’s vistas, overlooks and trails take on a whole new, vibrant but ephemeral character. Some notable broad-leaf species include sugar maple, black cherry, walnut, and the tall, stately yellow poplar (also called the tuliptree). All these, and more, turn to brilliant shades of gold, orange and red come mid to late October at Poe Paddy.