Winter Hiking at Parker Dam State Park

Looking across frozen Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park.

Winter is a magnificent time to hike at Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County!

Snow-covered rental boats at Parker Dam State Park.
Snow-covered rental boats at Parker Dam State Park.

Maybe you’ve hiked there before in the summer months.

Boardwalk at Parker Dam State Park.
Boardwalk at Parker Dam State Park.

Take it from me – winter hiking at Parker Dam State Park will be like seeing everything with a fresh set of eyes.

Snow-covered boardwalk at Parker Dam State Park.
Snow-covered boardwalk at Parker Dam State Park.

Getting to Parker Dam State Park in the Winter

The roads into and around the park are “limited winter maintenance” roads, which means typically plowed but still snowcovered.

Laurel Ridge Road at Parker Dam State Park on a winter afternoon.
Laurel Ridge Road at Parker Dam State Park on a winter afternoon.

I have no problems getting in and out in my 4WD truck, but my advice is to know YOUR vehicle’s snow/ice capabilities and plan accordingly.

Toyota Tacoma at Parker Dam State Park.
The author’s Tacoma at Parker Dam State Park.

If you have any doubts or questions about current road conditions at the park, try calling ahead to the Park Office at 814-765-0630.

Parking Dam State Park on a winter afternoon.
Parking Dam State Park on a winter afternoon.

Best Winter Hiking Trails at Parker Dam State Park

I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite winter hiking trails at Parker Dam State Park, but you’ll find many additional hiking trails to explore here, either beginning in or passing through Parker Dam State Park and continuing into the surrounding Moshannon State Forest.

Laurel Run at Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County, PA.
Laurel Run as seen from the bridge near the Laurel Run Trailhead.

Laurel Run Trail

Laurel Run Trail starts near the campground bridge, follows the eastern shoreline of the Parker Lake, traverses the dam breast, and follows Laurel Run downstream, for a total distance of 1.6 miles.

Laurel Run, looking towards Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park.
Laurel Run Trailhead at the campground bridge, looking towards Parker Lake.

The first portion of the trail is a boardwalk through a swampy area.

Boardwalk along Laurel Run at Parker Dam State Park.
Boardwalk along Laurel Run Trail at Parker Dam State Park.

Near the northern end of the lake, the Laurel Run Trail passes through a field of enormous boulders.

Boulders along the Laurel Run Trail at Parker Dam State Park.
Boulders along the Laurel Run Trail at Parker Dam State Park.

Near the breast of the dam, you’ll have a fantastic view of the frozen lake surface.

Frozen Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park.
Frozen Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park.

The iconic white rocks that spell out “Parker Dam” are also located near the northeastern edge of the lake.

Snow-covered Parker Dam stones on the bank of Parker Lake.
Snow-covered “Parker Dam” stones along the Laurel Run Trail.

Here’s what they look like when NOT covered in snow and ice.

Parker Dam spelled out in stone along the banks of Parker Lake.
“Parker Dam” spelled out in stone along the banks of Parker Lake.

The Log Slide Trail

The Log Slide Trail is a 0.4 mile section of the Quehanna Trail, in the southeastern corner of the park.

Westernmost point on the Quehanna Trail at Parker Dam State Park.
Westernmost point on the Quehanna Trail, where it is overlapped by the Log Slide Trail.

A display at the trailhead shows historic lumbering tools used in the 1870s to harvest timber in the area.

Logging tools display along the Log Slide Trail at Parker Dam State Park.
Logging tools display along the Log Slide Trail at Parker Dam State Park.

An authentic reproduction of a log slide is also located along the Log Slide Trail, and this is how logs would have been transported to the original “splash dam” along Laurel Run in the 1870s.

Snow-covered log slide at Parker Dam State Park.
Snow-covered log slide.

Trail of New Giants

The Trail of New Giants is a 1.2 mile trail that cuts through a portion of the park damaged by a tornado in 1985.

Trail of the New Giants at Parker Dam State Park.
Trail of New Giants at Parker Dam State Park.

A 1/4-mile spur trail off the Trail of New Giants leads to two beautiful vistas of the park and surrounding forest.

View of Parker Lake from the TRail of the New Giants Vista.
View of Parker Lake from the Trail of New Giants Vista.

The winter views of Parker Dam from the vista are quite a change of pace from the summer scenery.

The upper vista along the Trail of New Giants at Parker Dam State Park.
The upper vista along the Trail of New Giants at Parker Dam State Park.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve never thought about winter hiking at Parker Dam State Park, you’re missing out on a beautiful experience!

The boardwalk trail opposite the beach at Parker Dam State Park.
The boardwalk trail opposite the beach at Parker Dam State Park.

And if you’re totally unfamiliar with Parker Dam State Park, then may I suggest you check out my article Exploring Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County to give yourself a good overview of the best things to see and do there.

Taking in the scenery at Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County.
Parker Dam State Park on a summer afternoon.

13 Must-See PA State Parks for Winter Weather Lovers is your guide to some of the best places to enjoy the winter weather and great outdoors in PA!

A young explorer checking out Cucumber Falls.
A young explorer checking out Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.

Nearby Attractions

Parker Dam State Park is only a 30 minute drive from the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.

Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.
Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors 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!

Elk foraging for food in a winter morning.
Elk foraging for food on a winter morning.

Parker Dam State Park is also a short drive from the Quehanna Wild Area, a destination that truly lives up to its name!

Brilliant fall foliage at Red Run Gorge Vista in Elk County, Pennsylvania.
The author at Red Run Gorge Vista in the Quehanna Wild Area.

From waterfalls to wildlife to an abandoned Cold War military-industrial complex, the Quehanna Wild Area is a fascinating area to explore.

Outside one of the Quehanna nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in Cameron County.
Outside one of the Quehanna nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in Cameron County.

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”!

The entrance to Bilgers Rocks near Grampian Pennsylvania.
The entrance to Bilger’s Rocks in Clearfield County.

This 300 million year-old natural “rock city” is a must-see for fans of geology and all things megalithic!

A passageway at Bilgers Rocks in Clearfield County.
A passageway at Bilger’s Rocks.

Doolittle Station in nearby DuBois may just be the most eclectic roadside attraction in western PA!

Aerial view of the front half of Doolittle Station in DuBois Pennsylvania.
Aerial view of the front half of Doolittle Station in DuBois.

Doolittle Station is a quirky mix of restaurants, museums, a brewery, and a bed and breakfast, all housed in historic train cars!

Elvis and Marilyn greeting visitors to the Diner Car at Doolittle Station in DuBois, Clearfield County.
Elvis and Marilyn greeting visitors to the Diner Car at Doolittle Station in DuBois, Clearfield County.

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

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