Pennsylvania has a number of striking natural and artificial aquatic gems that make for excellent stops for rest and relaxation. Pittsburgh’s surroundings are notably packed with lakes, which provide important protection against flooding to this valley region. Most of Pennsylvania’s largest lakes are well-equipped for visitors, sitting within dedicated park and forest areas. They often include amenities such as cabins and campgrounds as well as boat rentals and launch points. Fishing, hiking and wildlife watching are two especially popular activities on PA lakes, which often serve as stopping grounds for migratory animals in transit.
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Canonsburg Lake, which sits within the county limits of Washington County, Pennsylvania is dedicated to water recreation in the form of fishing and boating. It was formed artificially by a concrete dam that was built to create a reserve of freshwater for the Canonsburg Forging Plant. At Canonsburg, the state goes above and beyond to make fishing possible and enjoyable. The Fish and Boat Commission stocks the lake with trout and other species of fish each year, and guests are welcome to fish from the shore or a handicapped-accessible pier. In terms of boating, the lake is outfitted with a launch from which to get out on the water.
2.Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir
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Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir is part of the larger Bald Eagle State Park, which was established in 1971 when the artificial lake was dammed and created. The reservoir is a collection of water from Bald Eagle Creek and several other smaller streams. The park covers an astounding 5,900 acres in the north-central part of Pennsylvania and presents a lovely combination of forests, wetlands, and fields. These territories are open to visitors and recreation seekers, who can camp, boat, fish, swim, and observe nature in its many nooks and crannies. The park also hosts educational programs, which include guided walks and nature lectures.
149 Main Park Road, Howard, PA 16841, Phone: 814-625-2775
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Beltzville Lake, a 949-acre expanse of calm, clear waters, sits in the center of the even larger Beltzville State Park. The park totals a staggering 3,002 acres and makes its home in the foothills of the mighty Pocono Mountains. Beltzville Lake is a popular stop in eastern Pennsylvania for fishermen and boaters as well as for waterfowl, who take shelter here along their migratory paths. Beltzville is surrounded by the gorgeous greenery Pennsylvania is known for, but its shores are covered in sand, creating a beach-like environment that draws in swimmers and bathers. A covered wooden pedestrian bridge and several small waterfalls add to the lake’s charm.
2950 Pohopoco Dr, Lehighton, PA 18235, Phone: 610-377-0045
4.Blue Marsh Lake
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Blue Marsh Lake is another gem of Berks County, Pennsylvania, a multipurpose lake dammed off to prevent flooding in the Schuylkill River Valley. The surrounding area incorporates 5,000 acres of land, with 36 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and biking. On and along the water, visitors can enjoy beaches and a picnic area, plus access to boat launches in order to get out to the fish and wildlife. Blue Marsh Lake also has a well-developed visitor center, concession stands, and more similar amenities to make a day on the lake convenient and comfortable. The local authorities regularly sponsor special events here.
1268 Palisades Drive, Leesport, PA 19533-9750, Phone: 610-376-6337
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The Allegheny Reservoir and the Kinzua Dam that helped to form it are beautiful examples of the marriage of the natural world and feats of human engineering. The dam and reservoir have the practical use of helping to prevent flooding from the Allegheny River, but they also provide a treasured recreation area in the region near Pittsburgh. The Allegheny Reservoir is surrounded entirely by forests through which several hiking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing trails run. On the water, visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and water skiing, while nearby campsites make overnight stays possible in all seasons. Because of its location in the northeast, the reservoir magically moves from winter to summer, changing its façade with each new month.
1205 Kinzua Road, Warren, PA 16365, Phone: 814-726-0661
6.Codorus State Park
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Codorus State Park is a 3,500-acre state park in York County, located close to the major city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Almost half of the park’s territory is covered by Lake Marburg, a massive body of water with an attractive shoreline. Birds often stop on this expansive lake while migrating, and visitors can enjoy days of motor boating, sailing, and swimming in the calm waters. One especially interesting feature of Lake Marburg is that scuba diving is available on its eastern side in Sinsheim Cove. The park also includes a family-friendly pool, plus areas for camping and picnicking. Educational programs are run here during the summer months.
2600 Smith Station Road, Hanover, PA 17331-8000, Phone: 717-637-2816
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Conneaut Lake sets itself apart from other Pennsylvania lakes as the largest natural glacier lake in the entire state. It is surrounded by the lovely Conneaut Lake Park, a bastion of natural and manmade recreational attractions. On the water itself, lakegoers love to swim, fish, boat, and water ski, while sunbathers line the lake’s shores to catch the sun’s summer rays. Near the lake is a welcoming historical boardwalk that has amusement and water park rides. These attractions only add to the fun, allowing guests to make a multi-day trip from the experience. Campsites and cabins are available for overnight stays.
12382 Center Street, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316, Phone: 814-382-5115
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Cowanesque Lake covers a wide swath of 1,085 acres that come close to the state of Pennsylvania’s northerly New York border. The lake is surrounded by rolling forests and is accompanied by both the Tompkins Campground and the Lawrence Picnic Area, which together offer the ideal set of amenities for day trips or longer stays. The area includes three boating access points and welcomes fishing, swimming, hunting, water skiing, and other outdoor sports and activities. Those who wish to stay on land can enjoy walks out in nature and activities at the territory’s amphitheater. Both sailboats and motorboats are welcome on the lake’s waters.
9.Crooked Creek Lake
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Crooked Creek Lake was another project to control the potential for floods in the area around the city of Pittsburgh. The lake itself is a gorgeous body of water that sits cozily in the western Pennsylvania hills, blanketed with trees that change with the shifting seasons. Because the natural beauty around the lake changes with the weather, it presents a wonderful recreation spot throughout the entire year. The lake has a boat launch and permits swimmers in its waters, while the shoreline provides miles of space for sunbathers and those looking to have a picnic. Crooked Creek Lake is also known for the variety of fish it hosts; anglers can expect crappie, sunfish, muskie, and bass here, to name just a few.
114 Park Main Road, Ford City, PA 16226, Phone: 724-763-3161
10.East Branch Clarion River Lake
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East Branch Clarion River Lake provides important protection to the district around Pittsburgh, as it guards against flooding from the upper Ohio and lower Allegheny rivers as well as the Clarion River Valley. Located in Elk County, the lake is an angler’s paradise, as the fish found here include trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, and tiger muskellunge. There are opportunities for winter ice fishing are available here, too, so the sport can be enjoyed throughout the year. Boaters also make great use of East Branch Clarion River Lake, as it has a launch for access and a number of secluded areas where guests can anchor for some privacy.
631 East Branch Dam Road, Wilcox, PA 15870, Phone: 814-965-2065
11.Erie Bluffs State Park
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Lake Erie is famous as one of the Great Lakes of the United States, and Erie Bluffs State Park offers visitors an opportunity to make the most of a day along this storied body of water’s shores. The park brings together 587 acres of land along the shoreline of this beautiful aquatic treasure and offers much to be enjoyed. Its natural features include the Elk Creek fishery, a black oak savannah and woodland area, the sand barrens ecosystems common in the Great Lakes area, and bluffs that overlook the lake. Fishing and boating are encouraged here, while swimming and overnight stays are not permitted.
301 Peninsula Dr. Suite 1, Erie, PA 16505, Phone: 814-833-7424
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Antietam Lake includes 643 breathtaking acres of parkland and lake water, creating a space to enjoy the outdoors in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The park around this lake has doubled the dedicated green area in the county, and locals and visitors alike make use of its shores for picnicking, walking, and enjoying the gifts of nature. In addition to its verdant, picturesque scenery, the shores of Antietam Lake also present a glimpse into the history of this region of the United States. The lake dates back to 1865, and the original wooden bridge and stone house that accompanied the water and its surrounding land still stand today. Similarly, a historic caretaker’s home, which was built in 1880, also remains on the territory in its original form.
230 Angora Rd Reading, PA 19606, Phone: 610-372-8939
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Fuller Lake offers a smaller, more intimate lake experience than some of its other Pennsylvania counterparts. The lake is a mere 1.7 acres in size and stands inside Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which has trails and facilities that accommodate hiking, camping, and biking. A sandy beach runs along the shore of the lake, and lifeguards are on duty regularly to keep the environment safe for swimmers. Boating is not permitted on Fuller Lake, but anglers are allowed to try their luck at catching the several varieties of trout, perch, and pickerel that inhabit its waters. As an added bonus, the Appalachian Trail Museum is also located close to the lake and within the state park.
1100 Pine Grove Road Gardners, PA 17324, Phone: 717-486-7174
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Glendale Lake spans across a total of 1,635 acres and acts as the seat of Prince Gallitzin State Park in Patton, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by the hills of the Allegheny Plateau, it is known for the stunning views it opens up. With 26 miles of shore, Glendale Lake is a beloved spot of anglers and boaters, although the park has a little something to offer in terms of a number of other activities as well. Prince Gallitzin Park has abundant, diverse wildlife, particularly in the fall and spring, when migratory animals make temporary stops here. Guests can see these animals from the beach or on one of the park’s many hiking trails.
966 Marina Road, Patton, PA 16668, Phone: 814-674-1000
15.Kettle Creek State Park
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Kettle Creek State Park is a treasure of central Pennsylvania, covering 1,793 acres that border the waters of Kettle Creek. The park’s territory is an awe-inspiring mix of mountainous lands and forested wilderness. This brings a diverse collection of interesting local animals, such as otters, flying squirrels, and owls, to be observed along the rushing river’s banks. The park does not have a sandy beach, but there are plenty of hiking trails and opportunities for fishing and sunbathing along the shore. Camping facilities are present at Kettle Creek State Park, making overnight stays an easy option for a longer trip.
97 Kettle Creek Park Lane, Renovo, PA 17764-9708, Phone: 570-923-6004
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Lake Nockamixon is an expansive lake in Nockamixon State Park of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which is located in the southeast corner of the state relatively close to Philadelphia. The lake, which covers a surprising 1,450 acres, was formed by three other bodies of water, Haycock Run, Three Mile Run, and Tohickon Creek. Lake Nockamixon is particularly popular with lovers of fishing and boating, and the facilities present here even offer the opportunity to take a pontoon boat ride. Guests can also make use of a nearby swimming pool, enjoy hiking and biking trails, or try their luck at disc golf on the park’s course.
1542 Mountain View Drive, Quakertown, PA 18995, Phone: 215-529-7300
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Lake Wallenpaupack is a highlight of the Pocono Mountain area, which itself is already a popular destination among tourists and families. The lake was artificially built in 1926; it covers a jaw-dropping 5,700 acres and has 52 straight miles of shoreline to be enjoyed. Lake Wallenpaupack has a full six recreation centers, which feature activities such as camping, hiking, walking, and wildlife watching, plus water sports like kayaking, jet skiing, wakeboarding, and parasailing. Because the lake is located near the well-traveled Poconos, it has many different types of accommodations for longer trips, plus amenities like shopping, dining, and kid-friendly activities beyond the lake.
2512 Route 6, Ste 1, Hawley, PA 18428, Phone: 570-226-2141
18.Marsh Creek State Park
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Marsh Creek State Park is another fine lake in southeastern Pennsylvania, a location that provides easy access from the bustling metropolis of Philadelphia. Marsh Creek Lake and the surrounding areas are tucked away in the beautiful hills of Chester County, and the territory is open for all kinds of fun and entertainment. This takes the form of sailing, fishing, and watching birds and other wildlife as they make their permanent and temporary homes here. Marsh Creek State Park has a pool for the little ones to splash around, as well as numerous educational nature programs, which include nighttime programs, guided walks, and interactive activities.
675 Park Road, Downingtown, PA 19335, Phone: 610-458-5119
19.Memorial Lake State Park
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Memorial Lake State Park brings a dedicated natural space to Lebanon County and the area around Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg. The park territory includes 230 acres of land and sits at the bottom of the gorgeous Blue Mountain. Surrounding the lake and its parent park is Fort Indiantown Gap, which is used by the Army and National Guard. Memorial Lake has expansive shorelines that lead out to the water, offering opportunities for relaxing and fishing to the guests who visit its banks. A small number of amenities such as picnic shelters and tables are also available for large groups and families.
18 Boundary Road, Grantville, PA 17028, Phone: 717-865-6470
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Parker Lake and its overarching territory of Parker Dam State Park have much to offer in northwest Pennsylvania. A charming green space that butts up against a seemingly endless forest, the shores of the lake are the perfect spot for a wilderness-oriented vacation. The park covers almost 1,000 acres in total and is located right next to Moshannon State Forest, which has plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, and seeking out local elk species. A campground and cabin facilities allow guests to spend the night, extending their time at the lake beyond just one day, while special events and educational programs only add to the fun.
28 Fairview Road, Penfield, PA 15849, Phone: 814-765-0630
21.Pine Grove Furnace State Park
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Pine Grove Furnace State Park packs a lot into a single park space; sitting at the northernmost edge of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, it has a number of different environments to explore and activities to take advantage of. Nature and adventure seekers who head to Pine Grove Furnace State Park can enjoy the waters of not one, but two lakes, Fuller and Laurel, both of which have sandy beaches along their shores. Access to the famous Appalachian Trail is also available here, as is a rail trail with a dedicated bicycle path. For a dose of history, Pine Grove Furnace State Park is also home to the historic Ironmaster’s Mansion, which was built in 1829 and is open for tours.
1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324, Phone: 717-486-7174
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Poe Lake, a quaint 25-acre expanse of quiet, calm water, sits directly in the center of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lake is a beloved recreation spot, encircled by the massive natural territory of the 198,000-acre Bald Eagle State Forest. This forest’s gorgeous expanse of trees is complemented by the more manicured area of Poe Valley State Park, which even includes a sandy stretch of beach along Poe Lake. Vacationers and anglers alike enjoy the lake in all seasons, as both warm and cold water fishing for species such as rainbow trout, perch, and catfish are possible here. A launch provides direct access for boats to get out on the water.
136 Poe Valley Park Circle, Coburn, PA 16832, Phone: 814-349-2460
23.Promised Land State Park
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Promised Land State Park is certain to be a promised land for those looking for time in the great outdoors along the Pocono Plateau. This large stretch of land sits 1,800 feet above sea level near the northeast corner of the state of Pennsylvania. The park has two lakes to enjoy, plus an entire forest surrounding it, offering access to beautiful hemlock, maple, oak, and beech trees, which dot its many enjoyable hiking trails. Promised Land State Park has a number of amenities, including a campground and cabins, a refreshment stand at the picnic area, and a wildlife observation station. It also acts as a home to the Masker Museum, a center for natural history education.
100 Lower Lake Road, Greentown, PA 18426, Phone: 570-676-3428
24.Shawnee State Park
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Shawnee State Park graces the southern part of Pennsylvania with almost 4,000 acres of territory and the pristine beauty of Shawnee Lake. The lake is a reservoir of warm water, making it an especially fun spot for boating, fishing, and swimming. The park is well maintained, and lodges located around the water offer the comforts of home in a rustic setting. Paddle boats, rowboats, and canoes are available for rental, while the shores also include a sandy beach area for a day or two of leisure. Picnic areas allow for outdoor dining, while a number of winding trails provide opportunities to enjoy the nature that encircles the lake.
132 State Park Road, Schellsburg, PA 15559, Phone: 814-733-4218
25.Stephen Foster Lake
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Stephen Foster Lake is an artificially dammed lake situated in Mount Pisgah State Park at the very northern border of Pennsylvania. The lake is an extension of Mill Creek and is named after famous composer Stephen Foster, who once resided in the region. This body of water is an interesting miniature ecosystem, offering homes to such species as bluegill, bass, and crappie fish. It is complemented by a dock and boat launch as well as ample parking and restrooms for convenience. Nearby, visitors can enjoy one of three large picnic pavilions or a local butterfly museum, which is within the park limits.
28 Entrance Road, Troy, PA 16947, Phone: 570-297-2734
25 Best Lakes in Pennsylvania
- Canonsburg Lake, Photo: Courtesy of digitalwhiz - Fotolia.com
- Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of wavemovies - Fotolia.com
- Beltzville Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Hinkle - Fotolia.com
- Blue Marsh Lake, Photo: Courtesy of CE Photography - Fotolia.comr
- Allegheny Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of SNEHIT - Fotolia.com
- Codorus State Park, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Conneaut Lake, Photo: Courtesy of ILYA AKINSHIN - Fotolia.com
- Cowanesque Lake, Photo: Courtesy of andrea - Fotolia.com
- Crooked Creek Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Ruud Morijn - Fotolia.com
- East Branch Clarion River Lake, Photo: Courtesy of wonderisland - Fotolia.com
- Erie Bluffs State Park, Photo: Courtesy of fotonaturali - Fotolia.com
- Antietam Lake, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Fuller Lake, Photo: Courtesy of varbenov - Fotolia.com
- Glendale Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Ed Brennan - Fotolia.com
- Kettle Creek State Park, Photo: Courtesy of FotoRequest - Fotolia.com
- Lake Nockamixon, Photo: Courtesy of AardLumens - Fotolia.com
- Lake Wallenpaupack, Photo: Courtesy of Jo Ann Snover - Fotolia.com
- Marsh Creek State Park, Photo: Courtesy of sportpoint - Fotolia.com
- Memorial Lake State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Ed Brennan - Fotolia.com
- Parker Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Kadmy - Fotolia.com
- Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Photo: Courtesy of MNStudio - Fotolia.com
- Poe Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Rinitka - Fotolia.com
- Promised Land State Park, Photo: Courtesy of asnidamarwani - Fotolia.com
- Shawnee State Park, Photo: Courtesy of godfather - Fotolia.com
- Stephen Foster Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Igor - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of philip kinsey - Fotolia.com