Exploring Shawnee State Park in Bedford County

Fishing pier at Shawnee State Park.

Shawnee State Park opened to the public in 1951, and has been a magnet for tourists ever since!

1950s postcard featuring the beach at Shawnee State Park.
1950s postcard featuring the beach at Shawnee State Park.

At the heart of the park is 451-acre Shawnee Lake, used by fishermen, boaters, swimmers, and bird watchers alike.

Swimming area at Shawnee State Park.
Swimming area and beach.

On the map below, you can see that Shawnee Lake almost looks like three separate bodies of water, connected by small channels.

Map of the three main sections of Lake Shawnee.
Map of the three main sections of Lake Shawnee.

Around the perimeter of the lake, you find a variety of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a myriad of other things to do.

The Field Trail at Shawnee State Park.
The Field Trail at Shawnee State Park.

Fishing at Shawnee State Park

Fishing is without a doubt one of the most popular pastimes at Shawnee State Park.

Early morning fisherman at Shawnee State Park.
Early morning fisherman on Lake Shawnee.

Just about every warm water species of fish you can think of is stocked in Lake Shawnee, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, catfish, crappie, yellow perch, and bluegill.

Foggy morning fishermen at Shawnee State Park.
Foggy morning fishermen.

Boating at Shawnee State Park

Kayaking is one of my personal favorite activities at Shawnee State Park.

Kayaker in the mist on Lake Shawnee at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County, PA.
Kayaker in the mist on Lake Shawnee.

If you don’t have your own, there is a boat rental open between Memorial Day and Labor Day near the East Beach.

Boat launch at Shawnee State Park.
Boat rental area.

Swimming at Shawnee State Park

The beach and swimming area are open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and this is a non-guarded beach so swim at your own risk.

The beach at Shawnee State Park.
The beach.

There is a concessions area and changing rooms right behind the beach.

The changing roms and concessions stand near the beach at Lake Shawnee.
The changing roms and concessions stand near the beach at Lake Shawnee.

Hiking at Shawnee State Park

There are 16 miles of trails at Shawnee State Park, with the 3.4 mile Lake Shore Loop Trail being the most popular, in my experiences there.

Lake Shore Trail at Shawnee State Park.
Lake Shore Trail.

You can pick up a trail map at any of the kiosks scattered around the park, or at the park office itself.

View from the breast of the dam at Shawnee State Park.
View from the breast of the dam and the Lake Shore Trail.

Birding at Shawnee State Park

 Shawnee Lake serves as a stopping point for various migratory birds in the spring and fall. 

Migrating trumpeter swans at Shawnee State Park.
Migrating trumpeter swans on Shawnee Lake.

Ducks, geese, swans, herons, and even bald eagles are a fairly common sighting at Shawnee State Park.

Ducks taking flight at Shawnee State Park.
Ducks taking flight at Shawnee Lake.

Photography at Shawnee State Park

Aside from wildlife photography, Shawnee State Park is a great spot for sunrise photography.

Sunrise at Shawnee State Park.
Sunrise over the fishing pier.

Moonlit nights in the late summer and early fall are also exceptional photo-ops.

The Harvest Moon rising over Shawnee State Park.
The Harvest Moon rising over Shawnee Lake.

Disc Golf at Shawnee State Park

Shawnee State Park has a lakeside disc golf course, for those who partake in this particular sport.

Disc golf course at Shawnee State Park.
Lakeside disc golf course.

Fall Foliage at Shawnee State Park

The reflections of fall foliage on Shawnee Lake are certainly one of the highlights of October in Bedford County.

Overlook along the southern shore of Lake Shawnee.
Overlook along the southern shore of Lake Shawnee.

There are so many good vantage points to view the fall foliage from here, I’d need to write a book to list them all!

Fall foliage as viewed from the Diehl boat launch at Shawnee State Park.
Fall foliage as viewed from the Diehl boat launch.

But certainly if you’re visiting Bedford County for the annual Fall Foliage Festival in downtown Bedford, make sure to take a side-trip to Shawnee State Park as well.

October at Shawnee State Park.
Leaf peeping from the Diehl boat launch.

How to Find Shawnee State Park

Shawnee State Park is located approximately 10 miles west of Bedford, along Route 30 (the Lincoln Highway).

A map to Shawnee State Park in Bedford County Pennsylvania.
A map to Shawnee State Park in Bedford County .

If navigating by GPS, use 132 State Park Road Schellsburg, PA 15559 to find the park office.

Shawnee State Park sign near the park office.
Shawnee State Park sign near the park office on State Park Road.

Nearby Attractions

The 1806 Old Log Church is the oldest standing church in Bedford County.

Fall foliage in Bedford County at the 1806 Old Log Church.
Fall foliage at the 1806 Old Log Church near Schellsburg, Bedford County.

Located right along Route 30 (AKA the Lincoln Highway) less than 5 minutes from Shawnee State Park, it is visited by thousands of people from around the globe every year.

The pews inside the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County PA
The pews inside the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA.

The Grand View Ship Hotel was, in its prime, one of the most famous attractions along the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental automobile route linking the east and west coasts of the United States.

Postcard image of the Grand View Point Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.
The Grand View Ship Hotel along Route 30, just west of Shawnee State Park.

Now only the “grand view” remains, but the story of the rise and fall of the Grand View Ship Hotel is no less fascinating.

The view from the site of the former SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.
The view from the site of the former SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.

The Bedford Coffee Pot is a unique 18 foot-tall “novelty structure” built along what was known at the time as the Lincoln Highway, America’s first coast-to-coast highway.

Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot.
Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot.

Constructed in 1927 by David Koontz as a gimmick to entice motorists to stop at his service station for food and fuel, the Bedford Coffee Pot was one of hundreds of “roadside giants” than once stood alongside the Lincoln Highway.

The Bedford Coffee Pot, August 2021.
The Bedford Coffee Pot, August 2021.

Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford is a throwback to the early days of American automobile transportation.

Dunkle's Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania.
Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

Designed to be Gulf’s showpiece service station between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the art deco styling of the building has been attracting motorists since it first opened in 1933.

Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford featured on a postcard from the heyday of the Lincoln Highway.
Dunkle’s Gulf Station in Bedford featured on a postcard from the heyday of the Lincoln Highway.

The Fort Bedford Museum was built in 1958, 200 years after the original Fort Bedford was constructed during the French and Indian War.

Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford Pennsylvania.
The Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford, PA

The museum tells the story not only of that specific war and time period, but of the people that inhabited the region before and since, as well as their history and customs.

Artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.
Artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.

Old Bedford Village in Bedford County is a living history museum that gives you a glimpse into what life was like in western Pennsylvania from 1700 until 1899.

Blacksmithing demonstration at Old Bedford Village.
Blacksmithing demonstration at Old Bedford Village.

Rather than viewing old photos and dusty relics, visitors learn by seeing reenactors demonstrating activities that would have been common in Bedford County from colonial times up through the Civil War.

Kniseley One-Room Schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.
Kniseley One-Room Schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.

The Jean Bonnet Tavern in Bedford County not only serves up delicious food and beverages in a colonial American setting, but it is rumored to be the most haunted restaurant in Pennsylvania!

The historic Jean Bonnet Tavern along the Lincoln HIghway in Bedford County, PA.
The historic and supposedly haunted Jean Bonnet Tavern along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA.

19 Must-See Destinations in Bedford County will show you even more great places to visit near Shawnee State Park.

Colvin Covered Bridge in Bedford County, PA.
Colvin Covered Bridge in Bedford County, PA.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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