Parker Dam State Park is a 968-acre expanse in Clearfield County featuring a tranquil lake, a beach area, scenic vistas, and miles of hiking trails.
The park is only 6 miles north of Interstate 80, but is completely surrounded by the Moshannon State Forest.
So while it’s fairly easy to get to, it feels pleasantly remote once you’re there.
Directions to Parker Dam State Park
From Interstate 80, take Exit 111 onto PA 153 North for 5.5 miles.
Turn right onto Mud Run Road, and then drive 2.5 miles to the park.
The Best Things to Do at Parker Dam State Park
Hiking at Parker Dam State Park
Officially there are 13 miles of hiking trails within the boundaries of Parker Dam State Park, but many of these trails continue into the Moshannon State Forest and/or the Quehanna Wild Area.
My favorite trail that is contained entirely within Parker Dam State Park is the Trail of New Giants.
This 1.2 mile hike takes you through part of the forest destroyed by a tornado in 1985, and eventually leads to 2 vistas that offer slightly different views of Parker Lake.
The lower vista offers a nice view of the beach at Parker Dam State Park.
While the upper vista, another 150 yards or so uphill, offers a more comprehensive view of Parker Lake and the surrounding woodlands.
Swimming at Parker Dam State Park
Parker Dam has a nice “swim at your own risk” beach (meaning no lifeguards) along the southeast shore of Parker Lake.
There is a concession stand near the beach that is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting.
The Stepping Stones at Parker Dam State Park
One fairly unique feature at Parker Dam State Park is a series of large stepping stones that allow you to cross Laurel Run below the spillway on Parker Lake.
Like the ultimate hopscotch course, these stones offer a fun fun way to get from one side of the lake to the other.
Stairways on either side of Laurel Run lead down to the stones.
The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
Also located near the spillway on Parker Lake you’ll find a Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
In addition to tracing the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, you can see actual heavy equipment used to build Parker Dam State Park in the 1930’s.
Logging History at Parker Dam State Park
The area encompassing modern day Parker Dam State Park was logged heavily and virtually stripped of all living trees between the late 1800s and early 1900s.
A replica of a “log slide” used to move felled trees to temporary “splash dams” along Laurel Run can be seen along Fairview Road, near the Parker Dam State Park campground.
Near the log slide you’ll see a display of actual discarded tools found nearby that were used in the logging process.
Parker Lake is built on the site of the original Parker Dam splash dam on Laurel Run.
Picnicking at Parker Dam State Park
There are plenty of picnicking options at Parker Dam State Park, from secluded grills and picnic tables to full-fledged picnic pavilions that can be reserved through the park office.
The Playground at Parker Dam State Park
There is a modern playground area at Parker Dam State Park, nestled in a wooded spot between the beach and the picnic pavilions.
Final Thoughts on Parker Dam State Park
Parker Dam State Park is one of the prettiest spots in Clearfield County!
It’s relatively close proximity to Interstate 80 makes in a natural pitstop if doing the east-west crossing of Pennsylvania.
With so much to see, do, and learn at Parker Dam State Park, it’s a great spot to bring the kids.
Even if you consider yourself just a casual “outdoorsy” person, I highly recommend you add Parker Dam State Park to your list of “must-see” state parks in western Pennsylvania!
Parker Dam State Park is only a 30 minute drive from the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.
Benezette is the epicenter of elk viewing in Pennsylvania, and no trip to the region is complete without at least a quick swing through the Elk Country Visitor Center and hopefully a few elk sightings along the way!
Parker Dam State Park is also a short drive from the Quehanna Wild Area, a destination that truly lives up to its name!
From waterfalls to wildlife to an abandoned Cold War military-industrial complex, the Quehanna Wild Area is a fascinating area to explore.
Bilger’s Rocks in Clearfield County is billed by the Bilger’s Rocks Association (the group that owns and maintains the park) as “Pennsylvania’s Best Rock Outcropping”!
This 300 million year-old natural “rock city” is a must-see for fans of geology and all things megalithic!
Doolittle Station in nearby DuBois may just be the most eclectic roadside attraction in western PA!
Doolittle Station is a quirky mix of restaurants, museums, a brewery, and a bed and breakfast, all housed in historic train cars!
The Grice Museum in Clearfield may be the best “cars and critters” museum you ever step foot in!
At the Grice Museum you’ll find nearly 70 classic cars on display, along with hundreds of taxidermy mounts of wild game animals from around the globe.
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