Exploring Black Moshannon State Park in Centre County

Sunset at Black Moshannon State Park as viewed from a kayak.

Black Moshannon State Park is comprised of 3,394 acres of forests and wetlands in Centre County, and is further surrounded by 43,000 acres of the Moshannon State Forest.

Tall pines along the Moss-Hanne Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
Tall pines along the Moss-Hanne Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.

At the heart of the park is the 250 acre Black Moshannon Lake, a fantastic spot for swimming, boating, fishing, and bird-watching.

Tundra swans taking off from Black Moshannon Lake.
Migrating tundra swans taking off from the lake.

Surrounding the lake are 20 miles of trails, perfect for spending a few hours or an entire day exploring the forest.

Fall foliage along the Star Mill Loop Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
Fall foliage along the Star Mill Loop Trail.

So follow along as I share with you some of the best things to see and do at Black Moshannon State Park!

WInter hiking at Black Moshannon State Park.
Hiking across the frozen lake surface.

History of Black Moshannon State Park

In the 1800s, the lumbermill boomtown of Antes sprang up at the present-day location of Black Moshannon State Park.

Historical Marker commemorating the ghost town of Antes at the present day site of Black Moshannon State Park.
Historical Marker commemorating the ghost town of Antes.

Millions of feet of logs were harvested in the area and floated downstream to mills in Williamsport, to feed the lumber needs of the mining, railroad, and construction industries.

Once all the surrounding trees were cut, the boomtown went bust, and all that remains intact today is the one-room schoolhouse.

The one-room Moshannon School at Black Moshannon State Park.
The one-room Moshannon School.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the barren land from the lumber companies and replanted trees as part of the establishment of the state forest system.

Moshannon School historical marker at Black Moshannon State Park.
Moshannon School historical marker.

Today we enjoy the fruits of that labor, in the form of the state park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest.

The Lake Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
The Lake Trail.

Hiking at Black Moshannon State Park

The free official park map lists all the main hiking trails at Black Moshannon State Park, and I’ll share a few of my favorites below.

The Bog Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
The Bog Trail boardwalk.

1. The Moss-Hanne Trail

This 7.7 mile trail passes through both forest and bog sections of the park, so waterproof shoes are recommended.

The Moss-Hanne Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
The Moss-Hanne Trail.

2. The Lake Loop Trail

The 0.7 mile Lake Loop Trail is an easy, flat trail around the lower portion of the lake, closest to the dam and beach.

The Lake Loop Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
The Lake Loop Trail.

3. The Bog Trail

The 0.3 mile Bog Trail is a boardwalk through a wetlands environment, and is wheelchair accessible from Boating Area 3 (see MAP for details).

Bog Trail at Black Moshannon State Park
The Bog Trail.

4. Star Mill Trail

The 2.1 mile Star Mill loop trail is a relatively flat, easy hike that provides excellent views of the lake (especially at sunset) and passes by the location of the Star Mill, a sawmill built in 1879.

Sunset over Black Moshannon Lake
Sunset along the Star Mill Trail.


Boating at Black Moshannon State Park

One of my favorite reasons for visiting Black Moshannon State Park is boating.

Fall foliage along the banks of Black Moshannon Lake.
Fall foliage along the banks of the lake.

The surface of the 250 acre lake is generally calm and perfect for a relaxing evening kayak trip with the family.

Kayaking on Black Moshannon Lake.
Kayaking the lake.

Catching a sunrise or sunset while out on the water is an exceptional experience!

Sunrise at Black Moshannon State Park.
Sunrise as viewed from a kayak on the lake.

Boating the waters of Black Moshannon Lake in the summer also allows for close-up views of the thousands upon thousands of blooming water lilies present on many areas of the lake.

A white lily on the lake at Black Moshannon State Park.
A white lily on the lake.

There are 4 boat launches at the park, all shown on the official park map.

Colorful kayaks and canoes along the banks of Black Moshannon Lake.
Colorful kayaks and canoes at boat launch 3.

Wildlife Viewing at Black Moshannon State Park

Wildlife is present in great abundance at Black Moshannon State Park.

A small buck in velvet at Black Moshannon State Park.
A small buck in velvet.

Waterfowl in particular are a big draw for wildlife watchers and photographers, as the lake is a virtual magnet for a variety of species, some common and others less so.

A great blue heron at Black Moshannon State Park.
A great blue heron on the lake.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of migrating tundra swans passing through the park for the past several springs now.

Migrating tundra swans at Black Moshannon State Park.
Migrating tundra swans.

And Canadian geese are seemingly ever-present, even on the coldest of winter days.

Geese taking flight at Black Moshannon State Park.
Geese taking flight.

Swimming at Black Moshannon State Park

Black Moshannon State Park maintains a small sandy beach area above the dam on Black Moshannon Lake, with restrooms and a changing area right next to it.

The beach at Black Moshannon State Park.
The beach.

Fishing at Black Moshannon State Park

Fishing is a popular activity at Black Moshannon State Park, when anglers may encounter species such as Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Pike, Crappie, and Largemouth Bass.

A fisherman and his dog at Black Moshannon State Park.
A fisherman and his dog.

Ice fishing at Black Moshannon State Park is another popular pastime; generally the lake here freezes early and stays frozen later than many surrounding lakes at lower elevations.

Ice hockey at Black Moshannon State Park.
Ice fishing.

Fall Foliage at Black Moshannon State Park

The fall foliage at Black Moshannon State Park is outstanding!

Autumn reflections on Black Moshannon Lake.
Autumn reflections.

The month of October at the park offers some of the finest “leaf peeping” in all of Pennsylvania.

Red and gold fall foliage surrounding Black Moshannon Lake
Red and gold fall foliage surrounding the lake.

The reflections off the surface of the lake add another dimension to your autumn photographs.

Fall foliage reflected off the surface of Black Moshannon Lake.
Fall foliage reflected off the surface of the lake.

And consider taking your fall foliage photography to another level by venturing out on the water yourself!

Fall foliage around Black Moshannon Lake on October 11th, 2021.
Fall foliage around the lake as viewed from a kayak.

Point your camera in any direction – it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo at Black Moshannon State Park in October!

Fall foliage surrounding a rustic cabin at Black Moshannon State Park.
Fall foliage surrounding a rustic cabin on the water’s edge.

Winter at Black Moshannon State Park

As the colorful display of autumn gives way to the stark white winter, Black Moshannon State Park is still a beautiful place to visit.

Winter at the fishing pier on Black Moshannon Lake.
Winter at the fishing pier.

I’ve witnessed some of the most outstanding sunsets I’ve ever seen during the winter months here.

A red sky winter sunset at Black Moshannon State Park.
A red sky winter sunset over the frozen lake surface.

The quiet beauty of a winter day at Black Moshannon State Park is like something out of a Currier and Ives print.

A winter view of a rustic cabin at Black Moshannon State Park.
A winter view of a rustic cabin along the water’s edge.

And sunset reflections off the few non-frozen areas of the lake are like staring into a colorful gazing ball.

Winter sunset reflected on the surface of Black Moshannon Lake.
Winter sunset reflected on the surface of the lake.

Winter hiking is a popular pastime at Black Moshannon State Park.

Hiking the snow-covered Bog Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
Hiking the snow-covered Bog Trail.

And so is ice hockey.

Ice hockey at Black Moshannon State Park.
Ice hockey.

If you like relative solitude and snow-covered surroundings, it’s hard to beat Black Moshannon State Park in the winter!

Winter scene along the Lake Loop Trail at Black Moshannon State Park.
Winter scene along the Lake Loop Trail.

Final Thoughts

Black Moshannon State Park is a remarkable year-round destination.

Fall foliage starting to appear at Black Moshannon State Park.
Fall foliage starting to emerge.

In the spring and summer months, the hiking and boating opportunities are amazing.

A summer afternoon on Black Moshannon Lake.
A summer afternoon on the lake.

The fall foliage display here is second to none.

Boating at Black Moshannon State Park.
Boating on an October afternoon.

And the winter sunsets are otherworldly!

Just before sunset at frozen Black Moshannon Lake.
Winter sunset.

From the smallest details…

A yellow cow lily at Black Moshannon State Park.
A yellow cow lily.

to the widest views – Black Moshannon State Park is well worth a visit, any time of year!

October sunset at Black Moshannon State Park.
October sunset.

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Family room of Grand Mountain Lodge vacation rental in the Pine Creek Gorge near Wellsboro PA
Photo courtesy of Vrbo.

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Nearby Attractions

The 5 Best State Parks Near State College will introduce you to several additional nearby state parks.

The dam at Greenwood Furnace State Park.
The dam at Greenwood Furnace State Park.

The 5 Best Scenic Overlooks Near State College highlights some of the most outstanding mountain vistas in the region.

Happy Valley as viewed from the top of Mount Nittany.
Happy Valley as viewed from the top of Mount Nittany.

The 13 Best Scenic Overlooks in Centre County reveals even more nearby mountaintop destinations.

Rusty Glessner at Indian Wells Overlook in Centre County Pennsylvania
The author at Indian Wells Overlook in Centre County.

Exploring the Ghost Town of Scotia Near State College takes you inside the remains of a iron-mining boomtown gone bust.

View from above of the ore washer remains at Scotia.
Remains of Scotia Iron Works near State College.

Hiking the Colyer Lake Trail Near State College shows you what to expect from this beautiful 2.6 mile lakeside-loop trail just minutes from downtown State College and Penn State.

Looking out over the water from the Colyer Lake Trail near State College.
The Colyer Lake Trail near State College.

Exploring Bilger’s Rocks in Clearfield County explains everything you need to know to experience this 300 million year old rock city in neighboring Clearfield County.

Standing in the midst of giant boulders at Bilgers Rocks in Clearfield County.
Standing in the midst of giant boulders at Bilger’s Rocks in Clearfield County

If you happen to be visiting Black Moshannon in December, be sure to check out the tallest Santa in Pennsylvania in nearby Philipsburg!

Visiting the tallest Santa Claus in Pennsylvania at Cold Stream Park in Philipsburg.
Visiting the tallest Santa Claus in Pennsylvania at Cold Stream Park in Philipsburg.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.