With more than 5,000 acres of space and a 170-acre lake, Tobyhanna State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania is a great place to have your next RV vacation. There is also a large part of Tobyhanna Creek running through the park giving visitors even more opportunities for water play. The park got its name from a Native American word meaning "a stream whose banks are lined with alder” because of the alder trees growing along the banks of the water.
This area was not always a place for fun and recreation. It used to be part of a huge artillery training range where the military tested weapons. According to the Department of Conservation and National Resources (DCNR) of Pennsylvania, you can still find old artillery shells in the park. However, you are not supposed to touch them if you do see any. Let a ranger or other park employee know about it so they can get rid of it. These can be dangerous to anyone who tries to move them.
You can do it all at this park from swimming, boating, and fishing in the summer to ice skating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing during the winter. You’ll have fun all year long, and the campground is open from April to October so you can stay the whole weekend when you come during those times. During the main season, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, you can rent canoes and boats at the park. There is also a swimming beach to enjoy, so bring your swimsuit and sunscreen with you in the motorhome.
Just 28 miles from Scranton, you can reach Tobyhanna State Park by taking I-380 to PA-423 from the south or west. From the north or east, take I-84 to PA-196. No matter which way you come, the roads are well-cared for and paved, so you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenic drive. You’ll also be just 44 miles from Wilkes-Barre, which is a large town with many interesting attractions; the Luzerne County Museum, Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre, and the Wyoming Monument are just a few.
While you are in the area, stop by one of the other state parks such as Gouldsboro State Park, which is just 10 miles to the northwest or Big Pocono State Park about 10 miles to the south. It is good to take advantage and visit as many parks as you can, so you can explore all that Pennsylvania has to offer.
During the winter, you may have trouble accessing the park if there are snowstorms, so check out the park website or call before you start your journey. Another item to note is that some of the campsites are best for smaller popups or campervans since some pads are only 12 to 20 feet in length. Although the majority of the campground is maneuverable for all but the biggest rigs, most pads are between 20 and 40 feet long. Always check the length limits when reserving your site.
Camping in the park is very quaint with a nice paved road, level crushed stone sites, good spacing between each site, and scattered mature trees throughout the campgrounds. One thing to note is that due to the high elevation of nearly 2,000 feet, you should be ready for cool nighttime temperatures year-round, including the summertime. The campground features 26 electric sites with 30 and 50 amps and another 104 non-powered sites.
Site amenities include a picnic table and fire ring at each site. Within the campground, you'll find communal water spigots, flushable toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities, and a dump station. Phone reception is available throughout the campground and pets are allowed at specific sites. Reservations are needed, and you must check-in at the park office on arrival. If the office is closed, set up your campsite and check-in during the morning. The length limits on the sites vary from 10 to 40 feet in length, so it is important to check this feature when making your reservations. Camping is closed from mid-October until April.
If you are part of an organized group, why not have a meeting at Tobyhanna State Park Group Campground? Located across the lake from the main campground, this spacious area is close to the swimming beach as well as a large area by the lake where you can fish. You will have to walk between 100 to 150 feet to get to the sites, so these are tent-only. Unlike the main campground, these sites are open year-round.
Sites 1-4 can accommodate up to 20 people each with six picnic tables, campfire rings, and a BBQ grill to cook on. Site 5 can handle up to 40 people and also has six tables, campfire rings, and a BBQ grill to cook on. All five sites are partially shaded and set slightly back into the woods. Vault toilets and a hand pump for potable water are located nearby. Reservations are needed and can be made up to 11 months in advance. Sorry, no furbabies are allowed at the group campground.
Tobyhanna State Park has a great sandy beach where you can cool off in the lake during the summertime. The beach is open from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend until mid-September, from 8 AM until sunset daily. Along with the beach, there is also a bathhouse that has changing areas and flush toilets. If you fancy a shower after a swim, there are some available for a small fee. Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the beach or in the swimming area.
Dreaming about getting out on the lake? Tobyhanna Lake is a great boating location where you can explore in powered and non-powered boats. If you want to leave your boat in the lake, there are over 50 boat docks available. You can also rent motorized boats, rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes from Memorial Day until Labor Day weekend. If you bring in a motorboat, it must have a current boat registration. Don’t forget to pack the life vests and sunscreen in the rig before heading to the park.
Tobyhanna Lake is a great warm-water fishery. You have a few different options as to where you can fish. By boat, the banks of the lake, and an ADA-accessible fishing pier are very popular. The lake is stocked with brook and brown trout every year, so if you are a trout angler, you will be a happy camper! Other common species in the lake include pickerel, catfish, sunfish, yellow perch and bass. Ice fishing is also allowed on the natural ice of the lake during the winter. Be sure to get a Pennsylvania fishing license first.
Hiking at Tobyhanna State Park will be a great experience if you like rugged terrain. The trails are mostly challenging, but also very rewarding. Some trails pass through wetlands, boulder fields, and rock hopping areas and offer great views of the lake. In total there are 10 trails, with the Lakeside Trail being the easiest, Range Trail intermediate, and the Frank Gantz Trail is the most difficult. For the Range and Frank Gantz trails, you should wear hiking boots as the terrain is quite demanding.
During the fall season, most of Tobyhanna State Park is open to hunting activities, so bring your hunting gear. You are able to hunt, trap, and train dogs at the park. You can also hunt in the nearby 127 and 312 state game lands. Common species to hunt include squirrel, turkey, black bear, and white-tailed deer. Furbearing species that are found in the park are mink, fox, coyote, raccoon, beaver and, muskrat. Before you begin hunting, check in at the park office to make sure there are no unique restrictions in place.
Are you a snowmobiling fan? Tobyhanna State Park has a 5.1-mile trail you can enjoy on your snowmobile. You will have to bring your own or check the shops in the area because the park does not rent them. The snowmobiling trail, Lakeside Trail, starts at parking lot one and goes clockwise, taking you around the lake and into the woods. You’ll enjoy the sights of the peaceful trees covered in white sparkling snow as you whip through the forest. Be sure to wear a helmet and dress in layers.