If you’re looking for a quiet place to fish and maybe have a picnic in western Pennsylvania, check out Raccoon Creek State Park.
Located just west of Pittsburgh in Beaver County, it’s a nature lover’s retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of the Steel City.
I stopped there on March 31st, just a few days before trout season officially opened nationwide. Luckily, this park’s lake is open year-round for fishing.
I met Jim Panik of Kennedy Township in Allegheny County who was having a great afternoon fishing for trout on spinners. Fished and released again until the start of the season on Saturday. “The park is well maintained and the lake is fairly well stocked. It’s a nice family park,” he said of his adventures there over the past decade. Late in the afternoon he staggered in and released six trout.
Parks are ready for youPennsylvania’s 121 state parks have upgraded facilities, more job opportunities are planned
The only improvement he could suggest was hope that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission would have more stocking trout in the spring months. In addition to pre-season stocking, the commission has trout stocking on April 9th, April 29th and October 4th. The later fish release is good for those who like to fish in winter, even through the ice.
Fishing is good all year round as anglers can also target Bluegill, Sunfish, Bullhead and Channel Catfish, Yellow Bass, Walleye, Musklung, Crappie, Sucker, Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass.
The lake invites boaters and kayakers, but only electric motors are allowed. There are two launch sites and 48 berths for people who want to leave their ship for a while. If you don’t have a boat there is a concessionaire that rents canoes, rowboats, kayaks and hydrobikes during the summer months.
The lake is also a good spot for spotting wildlife. He said you could see eagles passing by. According to Panik, birds of prey also like the fish, especially the colorful golden trout.
Economic and health benefitsAnglers and hunters have a significant impact on Pennsylvania’s economy
Serving the public for about nine decades, the park is an escape from Pittsburgh’s traffic, skyscrapers and congestion. The park began in the 1930s as a National Park Service Recreational Demonstration Area during the Civilian Conservation Corps era.
It covers 7,562 hectares of mostly forested land, including 101 hectares of Raccoon Lake.
There is a combination of rustic and modern group camps that incorporate the legacy of the CCC workers.
During spring and early summer, the park is home to more than 700 species of plants that can be seen in the wildflower reserve.
In the summer months, visitors can enjoy the beach facilities, including a sand volleyball court.
If you want to explore the wooded areas, the park has 44 miles of trails for hikers to explore, including sections open for horseback riding. In the fall, hunters have the opportunity to hunt small game, deer, and turkey in most areas of the park.
It’s a place where you can stay for more than a day. The park has 172 tent and caravan sites with access to washing up facilities, hot showers and electricity. Each location also has a picnic table and a ring of fire. Some campsites also allow pets.
go campingPlan lots of little weekend getaways or live the van life with an RV
Rustic camping options are available as well as group campsites.
If you don’t have camping gear, the park offers 10 modern cabins and a lakeside lodge with furnished living areas with heating. Cooking and eating utensils as well as bed and bath linen must be brought along.
Why you should campThe camping lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular
The sleeping accommodations meet almost every need. Backpackers can venture along the 19.5 miles where there are five Adirondack shelters and five tent sites that can be reserved.
If you want a reminder that civilization is nearby, you will occasionally see large planes flying over the area as they depart and take off from Pittsburgh International Airport. Even though I was in the woods, the planes were a fun distraction.
3000 State Road 18; Hookstown, PA 15050-1605
Email: [email protected]
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network’s websites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email from your website home page using your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.