Want to check out the largest state park in Pennsylvania? The almost 17,000-acre Pymatuning State Park is a water lover's paradise, featuring access to the 17,088-acre Pymatuning Lake. The park was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as one of the 25 "Must-See" Pennsylvania State Parks and there are many good reasons why.
Pymatuning State Park is about an hour south of Erie on the western edge of the state, near the border with Ohio. The park was originally a very large swamp and the first inhabitants of the area were the Native American Mound Builders. Building a dam on the river was first explored in 1911 and later completed in 1934. Now it is one of the most visited state parks in Pennsylvania, and it's a great choice for an RV getaway.
Recreational activities are plentiful in Pymatuning State Park with four swimming beaches, fishing, boating, hunting, and hiking. Throughout the year there are a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs, such as hands-on activities, guided walks, recreational experiences, and evening programs.
The campground is expansive at Pymatuning State Park, and each campsite allows you to explore and take in the natural beauty of the park. There are two separate camping locations holding 211 sites, some of which provide full hookups. The peak season runs from the start of April until the end of October.
Since Pymatuning State Park is so large, there are three main ways to enter the park. If you are entering the park for the first time and need to go to the park office, you should enter via the south shore of the park. This end of the park includes the Jamestown Campground, boat launch, beach, cabins, and picnic areas.
If you want to enter via the north shore of the park to access Linesville Campground, a swimming beach, boat launch, and marina can be reached from US 6. This area of the park will be quieter than the main south shore area. It is also around 20 miles away from the main entrance of the park, so make sure you are going to the right place in the park to save you the driving time. On the east shore of the park, there are no camping grounds or site offices, but there still are picnic areas, boat launches, and the Espyville Marina.
Please be aware, that there will be a combination of paved and unpaved roads as you travel throughout the park. Many of the outlying roads near the entrances to the park will be paved, but, as you travel further into the park and along varying trails, the road will change to varying states of paved or unpaved. However, the campgrounds all have paved roads and parking spaces available for RVers.
There is plenty of parking available at all three areas in the park, but during summer the park is very busy and you may have trouble getting parking close to the lake.
Located at the northern-most end of the lake, Linesville Campground is the smaller of the two campgrounds. In total, there are 54 RV friendly sites, 36 of which have 30-amp electric hookups, nine with the option between 20/30/50 amps, and 13 full hookup sites. There are also three water stations available for the sites that don't have full hookups.
There are plenty of modern facilities at this campground, including showers, flush toilets, laundry, dump station, fishing pier, playground, marina, fish cleaning station, and a freezer with plastic bags available to store your catch. You will be able to get phone reception in the park, but generators are prohibited.
Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the park. You are able to book a site up to six months in advance, and you can stay for up to 14 days during a 30-day period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After this period, you can stay up to 21 days straight. Also, if traveling with your furry friends, you'll be happy to know that pets are allowed in the Linesville Campground. Linesville Campground closes for the winter after October until April.
Jamestown Campground is the larger of the two RV-friendly campgrounds at Pymatuning State Park. This campground offers a mixture of electric and non-electric sites, and it has water available in five different locations. The electric hookups are mostly 30-amp, but there are a few sites that offer 50-amp hookups.
There are some great amenities at the Jamestown Campground, including a dump station, showers, toilet block, boat ramp, fishing area, swimming beach, picnic area, a disc golf course, and a playground. If you need to get some supplies there are a few stores less than 10 miles from the park.
Reservations are required at the Jamestown Campground due to the popularity of the park. You are able to book a site up to 11 months in advance, and you can stay for up to 14 days during a 30-day period. We recommend sites 326, 327, or 328 if you want a fantastic view of the lake while you visit the park.
As you probably already know, the bird watching and the wildlife at the park centers around the lake and its surrounding trails, and, luckily, observing wildlife is an activity that is accessible all year round at the park.
Those with a keen eye will spot owls and various other birds fluttering over the chilly lake waters in winter, or you will hear the symphony of toads and frogs in the spring. As the leaves start to change colors in the fall, watchful observers will notice deer and other creatures preparing for the oncoming bitter cold.
There will be opportunities to see all kinds of birds, but the most well known is the bald eagle. You will be able to spot these majestic birds soaring above the lake and nearby marshes, especially near the Wilson Launch near the Linesville Campground and Clark Island Natural Area on the north side of the lake. Throughout the year yellow warblers can be seen darting along the trails and in the spring ducks, grebes, and tundra swans can be seen as they are migrating.
Pymatuning Lake is a stunning backdrop to shoot some gorgeous photos. The most popular photography occurs at the lake during sunset. As the sun sets over the lake, the sky will be illuminated with mesmerizing pink, yellow, and orange colors reflecting off the lake. The water will briefly look like it has changed color, turning it into a colorful wonderland that turns out great when photographed. If you want to capture the best shots at sunset we recommend walking on The Spillway Trail because the sunsets along this trail are some of the best you can find in the area.
If you want to stick to land, hiking is a great activity to venture out on when you visit Pymatuning State Park. There are seven different trails to choose from, and they cover an area of about seven miles around the park.
For a short hike, check out the Beaver Dam Trail. Along this half-mile trail, you will journey through to a wetland and a waterfowl observation deck. Here, you can keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife while relaxing and taking in the sounds of nature.
For a more rigorous hike, try the Sugar Run, Log Cabin, or Tamarack trails. Despite only being one mile in length, these trails are considered to be more difficult. In the winter, visit the Sugar Run trail for a snowmobiling adventure because where you can see the beautiful shoreline under a layer of snow and ice. Also, experience walking along the rails on the Spillway Trail. This former railroad bed is now used a multi-purpose trail for those wanting to hike, ski, or bike.
Boaters rejoice! Both non-powered boats and powered boats, with motors up to 10 horsepower, are allowed on all areas of the Pymatuning Lake. The lake is massive, so there will be enough room for you to feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere. There are multiple boat ramps on the Pennsylvania side of the lake, and you can rent boats from the three marinas that are on the shoreline.
Non-powered boats need to display a Pennsylvania State Park launch permit, mooring permit, or a current boat registration for Pennsylvania or Ohio. Motorized boats must display a current registration at all times. If you need one, launch permits are available at the Pennsylvania state park office.
Visitors can rent a pontoon boat or kayak at the Jamestown, Espyville, or Linesville marinas, and then they should take a journey along the Shenango River to take in some of the breathtaking views of the park and its shoreline.
Pymatuning Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Pennsylvania because it is a warm water fishery. The lake is known for being one of the best in the country for fishing walleye and muskellunge, but there are other different species that you can catch in the lake. These include carp, crappie, perch, bluegill, largemouth, and smallmouth bass.
Fishing from a boat and the shore are both popular, as well as ADA-accessible, but if you are fishing from the shore you will need a Pennsylvania fishing license. Since the lake is located in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, fishing from a boat with either an Ohio or Pennsylvania license is acceptable anywhere on Pymatuning Lake.
Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities to do at Pymatuning State Park. There are four managed beaches on the Pennsylvania side of the lake, including Linesville Beach, Tuttle Beach, Jamestown Beach, and the Jamestown Campground Beach. There aren't any lifeguards on duty so please follow water safety practices.
The facilities vary at each beach, but they will all have food for sale at a concession stand or vending machines. Also, the non-campground beaches will have toilets and bathhouses for you to wash up after a long day on the lake. The beaches will generally be open 8 AM to sunset from Memorial Day through Labor Day.