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For centuries, Native Americans resided and hunted in Locust Valley. When European immigrants discovered coal in the region in the mid-1800s, they flooded the valley, which in turn drove the Native American tribes out. Coal mining turned out to be a poor endeavor, and the miners turned to lumber and stripped the region. The once verdant forest was gone by the 20th century. In the early 1900s, two brothers purchased a majority of Locust Valley, PA with the intention of turning it into a resort spot. They planted thousands of trees, cleared out the dense underbrush and set about to create a lake. While digging, they found a dam with a water wheel under seven feet of dirt and leaves, evidence of a long-gone era.
Today, Locust Lake State Park is a charming little park with a fair-sized lake. The closest large town is Pottsville, about seven miles south.
The tiny state park in the heart of Schuylkill Highland has plenty to offer, hiking, fishing, and views galore, and RV camping at Locust Lake State Park is plentiful, too. The mix of oak, maple, hemlock, and pine trees tower overhead, their branches knitting together to form a canopy that provides welcome relief on a hot summer day. The underfoot is a mass of ferns, wild grasses, and wildflowers. Hikers should beware poison ivy and poison oak; they run rampant in this part of Pennsylvania. Bordering the open meadows are thatches of wild blackberries and blueberries. There’s nothing like fresh berries just picked off the vine, provided that bears and deer don’t eat them all first.
Locust Lake, fed by a babbling creek, runs rampant with brown and brook trout, which are stocked several times a year, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and panfish. Sheltered from winds by the high hills ringing the park, the lake is calm and serene. Though motorboats are allowed, the lake is small and relatively shallow. Sharp-eyed adventurers can spot wildlife like ruffled grouse, pheasants, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Though small-game hunting is allowed in falls, only bows and arrows may be used. Hunters who prefer rifles or trapping should head over to one of the neighboring state forests.
The small beach bordering the lake is a short walk from Locust Lake State Park campground. The swimming area is marked with buoys, and at its deepest point, is about five feet. There are no lifeguards stationed; swimmers should exercise caution.
When you book a camper in Schuylkill County, finding a temporary home for it is high on the to-do list. The main road meandering into the Locust Lake State Park curls around the small lake, cutting through lush green woods, as it leads to a large campground. Camping at Locust Lake State Park is rustic compared with some private RV resorts. It does boast nearly 300 lots, many of which with electric hookups. Each site has a parking pad and a fire ring. Restrooms and showers are a short walk from most sites. A portion of the campground is dog-friendly, as well, which is a nice plus. One catch, though: this campground is closed in winters.
Camping at nearby Tuscarora State Forest, in contrast, is allowed year-round, though, in wintertime, restrooms are locked. Campers, however, are required to obtain a permit beforehand.
Though the Schuylkill Highlands is as rural as it gets, there are plenty of attractions in the neighboring towns. The Mountain Valley Golf Course, just a few minutes away from Locust Lake State Park campground, boasts two 18-hole championship courses designed by Brian T. Ault, a renowned course designer. Located close to Barnesville, the fairways are shaded by Broad Mountain.
Trade a rental RV for a steam locomotive train. The Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine Train embarks from Ashland on a scenic tour looping around Mahanoy Mountain, where passengers learn about the mining history and the catastrophic Centralia Fire, which has been burning for decades.
Roll into Hershey in a rental motorhome, drawn by the aroma of chocolate wafting on the air for miles around. The main street of the charming town is lined by confectionery, candy, chocolate, and ice cream shops. The colorful roller coasters loom tall, beckoning thrill-seekers. The park boasts twisty, topsy-turvy rides like the classic Comet, Sooper Dooper Looper, and old-style teeth-chattering Wildcat. On a hot day, standing in front of the Tidal Force’s watery blast is a quick way to cool off. Or opt for a tamer water ride like the lazy river. Learn about how Hershey’s chocolates are made on the chocolate factory tour, which merges old-fashioned animatronic puppets with modern, dazzling 3D displays. Each tour culminates with a free sampling of Hershey’s treats.
Go RV camping at Locust Lake State Park, and gain a world of adventure and memories to last a lifetime.