Top State Parks to Explore Around York County, PA

When exploring York County, Pennsylvania, there are plenty of beautiful outdoor destinations you can visit and enjoy by yourself or with loved ones. These destinations provide many unique experiences, including outdoor exploration, sports competition, and camping possibilities. Here's a look at a few of the most popular and enjoyable state parks throughout York County.

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Image via Flickr by concrete&fells

Located at 2200 Rosstown Road in Lewisberry, Gifford Pinchot State Park provides 2,338 acres for you to explore, including farm fields, wooded hillsides, great plains, and the 340-acre Pinchot Lake. If you love hiking, you have 18 trail miles you can trek, including hiking-only trails and trails shared with mountain bikes or even horses.

Beyond the many trails, you can also find picnic destinations with tables, charcoal grills, parking lots, potable drinking water, restrooms, horseshoe pits, pavilions, and even volleyball courts. Campgrounds include flush toilets, warm showers, electrical hookups, and more. You may also pick a rougher campsite if you want to connect with nature in a tent with minimal modern conveniences.

Codorus State Park

When visiting Hanover, consider stopping at 2600 Smith Station Road to visit one of the biggest parks in the state. With a total of 3,500 acres, Codorus State Park provides over 26 miles of shoreline where you can ride sailboats or motorboats and even check out waterfowl and shorebirds. If you're into bird watching, Codorus State Park is one of the most enjoyable places in the state to visit.

Fishers even check out Codorus Creek while visiting to land some big fish or swim in the nearby pool. Campgrounds include various picnic areas, including the swimming pool day area and the Marina day-use area near Lake Marburg. Expect toilets that flush, warm showers, and over 190 campsites for tents and recreational vehicles up to 50 feet. 

Samuel S. Lewis State Park

People near York, Pennsylvania, can stop by 6000 Mount Pisgah Road to visit this comfortable and relaxing state campground. Though it's only around 85 acres, this campsite includes many fun amenities that make it well worth a visit. For example, there are plenty of hiking trails where you can check out the beautiful Pennsylvania landscape or stop by for a quick picnic.

After sightseeing and picnicking, you can even go fly a kite on one of the many hills in the park or look for various wildlife. Birds, deer, squirrels, rabbits, and much more all live in the area, giving you plenty of fun animals to see. While not the biggest park on the list, Samuel S. Lewis State Park is something of a secret gem. It's a great place to go if you want to avoid the crowds and have a private day out in nature.

Rocks State Park

Rocks State Park is a common destination for Jarrettsville, Maryland, residents and is close enough to York County, Pennsylvania, to be well worth a visit. With over 855 acres of rocky forest and plenty of beautiful destinations, it is a fun day-trip option for those Pennsylvania residents who want something a little different. At this state park, there are three different picnic areas, 3.5 miles of hiking trails, views of beautiful Deer Creek, and a few nearby waterfalls.

Stop by 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road in Jarrettsville or visit nearby Falling Branch and Hidden Valley. These satellite parks include other attractions, like Kilgore Falls. Waterfall hunters in and around Pennsylvania often flock to this area to capture truly beautiful photos. Don't forget to check out fishing or hunting seasons, especially the latter, as Rocks State Park only allows bow hunting.

Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area

Harrisburg is the home of many fun destinations, including Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area. This campground is a common cross-country skiing destination due to well-maintained trails and unique views and skiing destinations. Boyd Big Tree Preserve is also a common hunting stop during various hunting seasons, so make sure you know which are current before you visit this popular hunting ground.

Visitors can also spot wildlife like rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, grouse, and even black bears from a distance. The variety of species makes this park one of the most common destinations for animal spotters. The many winding hiking trails available here also include beautiful views of lakes, rivers, hills, and trees. With over 1,025 acres to explore throughout the Blue Mountain region, this park gives you plenty of space to visit and enjoy.

Susquehannock State Park

In Drumore, Pennsylvania, at 1880 Park Drive, you can swing by Susquehannock State Park, home of four unique properties that overlook a beautiful wooded plain along the Susquehanna River. Though technically in Lancaster Country, it's close enough to York County to make it a great day trip. This park has plenty of enjoyable attractions, including over 224 acres, you can explore.

If you like hiking, there's a total of two miles of hiking on five different trails and a one-mile exercise course that focuses on tougher hiking conditions. If rest and relaxation is what you're looking for, there are multiple picnic options, charcoal grills, and easy viewing of over 100 different land and water species. For groups that are eager to get out on the water, there are boating options like canoes and paddleboats, as well as fishing during bass, muskie, and pike season. In the winter, there are also cross-country skiing and ice skating options.

Swatara State Park

Swatara State Park includes over 3,250 acres between the Second and Blue Mountains, a position that makes this a popular destination for many visitors. The park's sheer sweep includes over 18 trail miles, a beautiful creek that winds through the forest, plenty of wetlands, unique species to spot, and options for hunting, trapping, and dog training. Check the park for the appropriate seasons for each before visiting. 

Fishers may also check out Trout Run, a fully stocked trout stream with tough-fighting fish that will challenge skilled anglers. Other fishing destinations include Wagners Pond and Swatara Creek, where you can catch smallmouth bass and panfish. Look for deer, turkey, pheasants, rabbits, muskrats, opossums, foxes, and raccoons while biking the nearly 15 bike trail miles.

So there you have it, several fantastic state parks that may work well for outdoor lovers in York County, Pennsylvania. Do you know any great locations you want us to highlight? Contact us today and let us know. We always love hearing from our customers and may update this list based on your suggestions or create a new one outlining even more popular destinations.

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