Date of Stay: September, 2012
This is a very nice state park campground set in a hemlock and white pine forest. Every site is at least partially shaded and most are fully shaded. Most sites are spacious and have reasonably level gravel pads. Tent sites have a tent pad with finer gravel base. The campground has one central shower house, which is relatively new and clean. The park has a small lake with a beach and swimming area and numerous picnic tables. There are hiking trails in the park and connections to other mid-state trail systems. There are many miles of packed gravel forest roads (no winter maintenance) to explore on bike or by vehicle. There are also quite a few other state parks within a 25-30 mile radius to explore. Owners of big rigs would do well to avoid sites 17 to 33, as there is a very tight left-hand turn to navigate when leaving that section of the campground. It can be done, but the bank on the left side shows numerous scars indicating that the bank won! Our only gripe was the vendor-supplied firewood ($7.00/stack) that was obviously cut from long-downed trees and was very punky. There are area residents with roadside signs for camp firewood, though. RB Winter is in a beautiful section of north-central Pennsylvania's mountains and there are some great overlooks from its 2000 ft. elevation. We will definitely camp here again so we can further explore the region.
Date of Stay: July, 2012
This was our first trip to this park and it was well worth it. The campground is nice with almost all sites having at least partial shade. Some sites are a little too close together for our liking, but not many. The campground and beach have modern, clean restrooms and showers and each shower house also has coin-op laundry. There are a good number of pet sites and, from what we saw, there are no restrictions on where pets may be walked in the campground. The beach and campground store, which also serves some food, are within walking distance of the campground. The sandy beach is well maintained, having been combed each morning during our stay. There are no lifeguards on duty at any time. The park has quite a few trails, but the only one we walked was the bog trail. That is part trail, part boardwalk along the lake shore and through the sphagnum moss bogs which surround the lake and give its water a "weak tea" look. As another reviewed said, the road coming into the park is narrow and steep with one especially sharp turn. But, the park is in the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania! The road coming from Philipsburg and RT 322 is much better than Beaver Road from US 220. We will definitely be back to this state park!
Date of Stay: November, 2011
We've stayed at Cowans Gap many times and have reviewed it in the past. This was the first time we camped there this late in the season, though, and the experience had some significant differences from "in season" camping. Starting after Labor Day the number of available sites are reduced as some of the loops are closed. During our visit, the only sites open were the pet sites (1-30) and sites on the main road through the campground (31-74). The only restroom and shower house open was before entering the pet sites, right at the campground entrance and few spigots were working through the open area. That shower house is a considerable distance from sites outside of the pet area, which makes it difficult if you don't have your own facilities. Also surprising, and only discovered when we were leaving, was that the rinse hose at the dump station was turned off. If we had known that we wouldn't have dumped the remainder of our fresh water and would have been able to rinse the dump hose. We realize that, due to budget cuts, parks are continually looking for ways to reduce costs, but it would have been nice to have an additional shower house (or at least a restroom building) open over weekends and have water available at the dump station. Cowans Gap remains one of our favorite Pennsylvania state parks and the park and surrounding areas are beautiful. The towns and country roads throughout the area are well worth exploring. We'll be back in 2012 and beyond. We hope that we don't see more budget cutting in one of the very few areas that produce income for the parks!
Date of Stay: October, 2010
This was our first visit to Pine Grove Furnace State Park and this place is truly a gem. One of our main criteria for selecting a destination is a large lake enough to make kayaking worthwhile. Pine Grove Furnace SP has two lakes, the largest about 25 acres and the other less than 2 acres. On this trip, we wanted a park close to the National Apple Harvest Festival grounds, so the amount of water wasn't the highest on the list. The campground's shower house and restrooms are all new and are very nice. One shower house and one restroom building serve the 74-site campground. The facilities are among the nicest we've seen in Pennsylvania parks. On our walk through the campground, site map in hand, we marked less than six sites we would not want to reserve. That's probably a record for us! The sites are mostly laid out so you're looking out into the predominately pine forest rather than at the road side of your neighbor's camper. Even sites on the inside of the loop feel roomy and have decent views. The campground host was by far the most personable we've met (and the first we've seen using a pop-up camper!) and went out of his way to provide information and to make sure your stay was pleasant. New this year to the park is the Appalachian Trail Museum, housed in one of the historic buildings near the general store and park office. The museum, as of now, is small, but the volunteer told us they have long-range plans to expand to additional floors in the building. The displays they have are interesting and very well done. For boaters looking for a larger body of water, Long Pine Run Reservoir is about 10-12 miles south of the park off Rt. 233. The approx. 150-acre lake, nestled in Michaux State Forest land, is in about as remote a setting as you'll find in south-central Pennsylvania.
Date of Stay: August, 2009
Frances Slocum is one of Pennsylvania's very nice state parks. The campground here offers about half electric and half primitive sites; one loop is all electric and one all primitive. There are also walk-in tent sites and an organized group tent area available. Some of the electric loop sites were rehabilitated early this year and are very nice -- level, small stone pads more than large enough for a camper, awning and 10x10 canopy. Some other sites in the electric area are smaller and aren't as level, but all are nice. The sites around the end of the loop are more crowded than the rest, but still not one on top of the next. Part of the electric loop is in a tall pine forest and we had a doe and her fawn walk right behind our campsite before the loop filled for the weekend. We camped in one of the rehabbed sites, and as luck would have it, something happened to the underground electric feed, cutting off our power. The rangers and maintenance staff were all very nice to deal with, worked hard to correct the problem and when they couldn't, worked equally as hard to come up with a solution without causing us much trouble at all. They were all extremely professional and we couldn't have asked for better people to deal with. The restrooms and showers were clean and functional. The showers were hot and water pressure good. Showers are the annoying push button variety, though... Signage coming in to the park from I-81 was good, much better, in fact, than many other PA parks. The park is far enough from major roads that traffic noise is almost non-existent. Roads and signage in the park were also good. The road from the park office to the campground is rather narrow and windy as it goes downhill, so take it easy. There is a small camp store, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The store isn't the best stocked, but has most necessities. The park has a swimming pool and a 165 acre lake for boating and fishing. There is a boat ramp and storage area for the exclusive use of the campground. This park is in an area of the state with many other parks and many other things to see and is well worth a visit. This was our first trip to Frances Slocum but won't be our last.
Date of Stay: July, 2008
This park has now, after our first visit, moved to the top of the list among our favorite Pennsylvania State Parks. The layout of the campground is well thought out, with nice separation between sites, level gravel spurs, although some are fairly short, and decent shade on most sites throughout the day. The shower houses and restrooms appear to be recent construction and are clean, roomy and well lit. The 224 sites are spread through two campgrounds, with the Aughwick CG being the much larger. Quite a few electric sites are available along with a few pull-thru and some walk-in tent sites. We camped on site 117 and had more than enough room for our mid-sized tent camper, awning and 10x10 screen room, with the tow vehicle parked on the slope leading down to the road. Many sites on the inside of the loops have an incline leading up to the level pad while many outside sites have a steep drop-off behind the pad due to the hilly terrain of the campground loops. Pay attention to the site characteristics listed on the park's web site to make sure your camper will fit easily on the level pad. The park has a 40-some acre lake with two boat launches, a mooring area for campers, and a nice sandy beach. The lake was crystal clear -- we could see the bottom while swimming in six feet of water. There are a lot of well-marked trails through the park, a visitor center and a shower house/concession building at the beach. Buchanon's Birthplace State Park, a very small state park marking the place where President James Buchanon was born, is nearby and worth a visit. The scenery in the area, on the eastern edge of Pennsylvania's Allegheny Mountain region, is spectacular. We're already planning our next visit to Cowans Gap!
Date of Stay: June, 2008
This is a beautiful state park right on the north shore of Kelleys Island, one of the Lake Erie islands in Ohio. The campground is clean, well kept and the sites are very nice. The only way to get you and your camper to the island is by ferry from Marblehead. It cost us $106 round trip for two people, our truck and a tent trailer. There is also a passenger-only ferry that runs from Sandusky to Kelleys Island and on to South Bass Island. To reach the state park from the ferry dock you must travel through the downtown area. Not bad when we were there but it is probably quite full at the peak of the season. The showerhouses are pretty modern and well kept. The only gripe was that there was only one toilet available in the men's side of our showerhouse during the three days we were there. The other had a sign stating it was being replaced. Not really a big problem, since the CG wasn't anywhere near capacity. We were there near the end of the Mayfly season. Wouldn't want to be there at the peak of the season! We had them on all wind-sheltered surfaces. The CG has a nice sandy beach within very easy walking distance. It is sheltered by a breakwater. There are also some nice trails going around the north shore and the glacial grooves, scoured into the rock during the last Ice Age. Well worth seeing! The town of Kelleys Island has several restaurants, a mini-golf and a few stores. It doesn't take long to see, but our reason for visiting was relaxation so it wasn't an issue. It's a nice campground and a beautiful area. A little removed, but worth the trip!
Date of Stay: June, 2008
Shawnee State Park is located in a beautiful section of Pennsylvania and is well worth the visit. The park has a large campground and a large lake. The lake is about 1/2 mile from the CG. Our site was nice and level (better be, it was an ADA accessible site!) but quite a few sites, especially tent sites, were on pretty steep slopes. Try to do your homework before selecting a site, sight unseen, or you may be in for a challenge. The showerhouses appear to have had some fairly recent renovation, especially after reading other comments. The toilets, in our showerhouse at least, were well anchored and the partitions and shower/changing area walls appear to be pretty new. Showers are push button but run an acceptable amount of time and get hot enough. Hot air hand dryers would be a nice addition. Many sites in the electric area share power posts, so one site will find it on the wrong side. Bring an extension for your shore power cord, you may well need it. We needed almost the entire 25 feet of extension cord and saw another camper setting up only to find he was about a foot short. Some sites also have fire rings and tables on the back side, for some reason. The rangers patrolled often, at least during the time we were there -- Thursday to Saturday. All staff we encountered were very pleasant. There is a swimming beach, concession stand, many picnic areas and at least two boat ramps. We were told that the boat rental concession is not operating this year. The park is along historic Route 30 and there are a number of things to see in the area. We will definitely plan a return trip to Shawnee!
Date of Stay: June, 2008
We stayed here one night on our way to northern Ohio. It was about the 2/3 point of our trip and borders Moraine and McConnell's Mill state parks, both areas we wanted to spend a little time exploring. Our site was in the Pine Meadows area of the campground, which has water/electric hookups. This area is quiet and pretty well removed from the rest of the CG, which is nice, but is not well suited for any trailer but the very smallest. The road is narrow and tightly bordered on one side by trees and the turn-around is very rough and tight. Once we had the trailer backed in, we were pleased with the site. There is a horse pasture directly behind these sites. The showerhouse/restrooms are at the top of the hill, above the pasture and equipment barns, so it's best to drive. Bring your quarters for the showers! The showerhouse is fairly old but was clean enough and the water was hot. This CG has a number of different areas, some of which are on hillsides. The Pine Meadows area is sloped but we had no problems leveling. There are also primitive tent areas even more removed from the main CG. One entrance, and a boat ramp, for Moraine State Park are less than a mile from the CG entrance. The CG maintains the boat ramp, according to a sign posted there. Overall it seems like a nice, well-kept private CG. Of course, there are many seasonal sites, but all that we saw were well kept.
Date of Stay: May, 2008
We were looking forward to visiting this campground because of the riverfront (Susquehanna River) location and the Millersburg Ferry, which lands in the campground. The ferry schedule notes that it runs weekends in May and begins daily operation in June. On the first weekend of May, though, the ferry was not ready to run. We were camped in the second row -- the riverfront sites are reserved for seasonal rental -- and did have a nice view of the river since we were close to the ferry landing. The ferry landing is a decent boat launch for fishing boats, canoes and kayaks but the other three launches are marginal and really need some work. There is no parking available at the actual launches and little parking at the ferry landing. The campground is 40 years old this year and is showing its age in some areas. The shower houses were clean enough, with the exception of the hand soap dispenser that was leaking on the counter at the sinks, but are very dated. The changing areas in the showers are very small and the showers are annoying push button type and only run about 30 seconds per push. The air hand dryer ran just a few seconds before shutting down. We were disappointed with the sites available for overnight camping. Width-wise the sites were OK but the camper behind us was about 8 feet away. There is nothing to delineate the sites; it reminded us of a tree-shaded parking lot. The "cap" for the sewer hookup on our site was a rock. Since our camper doesn't require sewer, we were left to search for a flatter rock to seal as much sewer odor as possible. All camp sites are gravel and are close to level. There is no handicapped accessibility. The store/office is built on stilts about 6-7 feet high to keep it above water when the river floods. The shower houses each have a step at the door and would be too tight for accessibility. The campground has about 285 sites but only about 70 for overnight. Almost all of the seasonal sites were well maintained, but the shear volume of them made it feel more like a trailer park than a campground. Admittedly, we prefer state parks with their more private sites and understand that private owners are going to maximize the number of sites, but it would be nice to have a bit more privacy from neighboring campers.
Date of Stay: September, 2007
This is a slightly better than typical Pennsylvania State Park campground. Most of the the sites are at least partly shaded and many are full shade in beautiful surroundings. Sites are gravel or grass spurs and reasonably level. The roads going in to and within the campground are not in the best condition and some are roughly graded gravel/rock -- go slowly! Restrooms and showers are not the most modern but were clean enough and staff was there to clean them even in the off season on a weekday. We made this an overnight stop on our way to the Erie area. We didn't have a lot of time to explore the park, but would definitely make this a destination for a longer stay.
Date of Stay: September, 2007
This is a very, very nice KOA. The staff are very friendly and very helpful. They assigned us to a site different than the one given when we reserved...they saw that I am handicapped and without asking gave us a site a little closer to the showers/restrooms. The 30 amp sites are nicely shaded as area many other sites in the campground. We had to be careful when siting the camper in order to get the awning to clear one tree, otherwise, the site was fantastic -- perfectly level and reasonably roomy. The KOA is an easy 8-10 mile drive from Erie, Presque Isle and other destinations in the area. Staff at the KOA were helpful in pointing out activities in the area while we were there. Free pancake breakfast on Sunday (meat and juice not included, but cheap enough), movies each night, nice pool (pool was still open after Labor Day) and a nice playground if you have children. This was our first trip to the Erie area. If we return, this KOA will definitely be our campground of choice!
Date of Stay: July, 2007
This campground has a lot going for it, especially the glacial boulder field that is in the upper part of the campground and the access to the Appalachian Trail. The primitive sites at Blue Rocks are larger and more private than most state park sites. Many of the modern sites are cramped and small, although there are some that are worthwhile. Some modern sites have stream-side access. The most desirable modern sites are taken up by seasonals. Some seasonal sites are pretty well run down while others take a lot of pride in the appearance. The roads in the campground are graded dirt/gravel as are the sites. It was very dusty from camp traffic and constant golf cart traffic. Many modern sites require some creative leveling. Bathrooms and shower houses are definitely dated and cramped but were clean when we stayed there. The upper shower house is a converted trailer and has smaller showers. We were there for the camp's annual pig roast/Hawaiian Luau weekend. The pork was good, but cold, and everything else was canned/prepackaged. The schedule showed a DJ playing for a pool party starting at 7 pm. Instead, he started at 2:30 and played till 10 pm. The music was too loud, especially considering that there were a number of sites very close to the pavilion where he was set up, and, he was a poor excuse for a DJ. We would go back to Blue Rocks, but only if we could get a site at the upper end of the campground and only on a weekend when there is no DJ or other entertainment scheduled.
Date of Stay: July, 2007
Too many of the sites in the Hosack Run campground are too crowded, not at all what we expected based on our experiences with other state parks in Pennsylvania. When our neighbor backed in, his slide out was less than 3 feet from our awning. There are a few fairly good electric sites but not many. The non-electric sites on the outside of the loop looked very nice -- roomy and private. No electric in the shower houses from about 8 am to about 8:30 pm. Rather annoying push-button showers, although the water temperature was good. The sites in the other campground at Caledonia are spread out better and more private than those in Hosack Run, but only a handful have electric and most of those have little shade. That campground is also very hilly. We love camping in state parks but will not be returning to Caledonia.
Date of Stay: June, 2007
French Creek is a very nice state park and one that we try to stay at several times a year. Two of the four camping loops have some electric sites and one loop allows pets at a limited number of sites. The pet sites are scattered around the loop with no apparent pattern. There are no sites with water hookup but there are several spigots throughout each loop to get water. The shower houses are reasonably clean although they are a bit dated. The C loop has a family-assist restroom/shower behind the regular shower house. This is somewhat more modern, although whoever designed it really needs a refresher course in ADA compliance. All of the sites have a paved parking pad and most are fairly level. There are some that would be challenging to level anything much longer than a large tent trailer. There are two small (22 and 40 acre) lakes in the park for fishing and boating. The larger lake has at least one active beaver lodge. There is a swimming pool available at extra cost, although there is a discount for registered campers. It's still rather expensive, though. Neither of the lakes or the pool are within walking distance of the campground. There are usually some good ranger-led nature programs on Friday and Saturday. The ranger/naturalist really takes her job seriously and is a great asset to the park. We had contact with one enforcement ranger who seemed to take his power a little too seriously, but every other employee was very professional and friendly. Since last winter quite a few trees have been felled in the campground loops leaving some previously shaded sites almost clear-cut. Some pines have been planted, but as of now, not many.