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PAtacoFF's Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic State Parks and Forests Campsite "reviews"

Discussion in 'North East' started by PAtacoFF, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Sep 18, 2019 at 10:16 AM
    #1
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  2. Sep 18, 2019 at 10:18 AM
    #2
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Here's the first "review" I did of R.B Winter SP that was originally posted in the PA thread

    R.B. Winter State Park and Bald Eagle State Forest

    This past weekend I camped at R.B. Winter State park and then drove the state forest roads in the area to check out the dispersed camping spots in the state forest. [​IMG]

    When I first arrived to the site I had a guy ride up on his bike and say "Hey don't leave anything out on there". What? "Don't leave anything out at night. This morning the last guy heard something and came out of his camper and there was a bear sitting on that table there eating a stick of butter." That's a good way to start a weekend! Yes there are black bears in the area. The dumpsters are bear resistant and the park is putting in small bear resistant trash "safes" around the camp area. Besides the juvenile that was seen sitting in my site that morning there has been a sow and cub seen at the far end of the campground multiple times from the reports of park staff. The sites here seem to be closer together than other state parks I've been to. I wasn't happy about that, BUT overall it was a very quite campground compared to others so I can't really complain.

    That's a nearly 1lb delmonico on the griddle. That turned out perfect. And that I finished :hungry:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Bald Eagle State Forest Dispersed Site "Reviews"
    My main reason for staying at R.B. Winter though was to check out the dispersed drive in campsites in the surrounding state forest land. I visited 11 of the state forest campsites and had a great time driving the forest roads at totally appropriate speeds :mudding:. It's hard to find information on the state forest sites so I'm sharing what I saw here.
    Site#7 - Sits high on the mountain just off an overlook. Mostly in the sun with shade along the perimeter depending on time of day. DCNR site says tent only but there was room to get a Tacoma and same size trailer into the site off the road.
    [​IMG]

    Site#16 - Walk-in site only. Parking is along the road, trail leads to site about 100-200 feet off road.
    Site#10- Nice site in the trees back off of the forest road. However, one of the drivable trails is RIGHT up against the site. [​IMG]

    Site#3 - sits low near the creek, there is a sign at the entrance to the site that the creek is fly fishing catch and release only. Seems to be a full sun site. [​IMG]

    Site#9 - Nice site, right off of an intersection of forest roads. Creek nearby for fishing water etc. Sun and shade. [​IMG]

    Site#15 - Only notes I took was not trailer compatible. From memory it was up on the hill off of the road. Large parking area though and decent size for multiple tents.
    Site#6 - notes say "Meh. nothing special" could fit small trailer maybe but better tent site.
    Site#4 - not trailer compatible. Don't remember anything else about it.
    Site#5 - Could be a nice site. There was an RV occupying the site so didn't want to walk about. Nice creek nearby for fishing, water, etc.
    Site#8 - small and right on the road
    Site#12 - The site to go if you have horses. Two large sturdy metal hitches installed. And the flies to go with the horses. I knew it was a horse site before even seeing the hitches. Large, and open.

    Edit: Firewood is available just past the park hosts site after entering the camping area. Wood is protected from rain and If I remember correctly it was $8 for a “cube”. Wood seemed to be restocked each day. There is also a small tub with dry kindling bundles in it. Don’t waste your money on those. It is just a few pieces of newspaper wrapped around a bunch of bark and a few small twigs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
    E-Paz 732NJ, Rester5350, uurx and 2 others like this.
  3. Sep 18, 2019 at 1:33 PM
    #3
    Grand dude

    Grand dude Well-Known Member

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  4. Sep 18, 2019 at 4:25 PM
    #4
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    One thing that I left out of each post and should include is the firewood situation at the parks. It is pretty well established now that moving fire wood can be really bad for forest health due to introducing pests that hitch a ride. But wood isn’t always available at each park or nearby (looking at you Pine Grove SP). I’ll edit the above posts with the firewood situation and remember to include it it future posts.

    Also bears. This was posted at Poe Valley SP. It’s a large contiguous area of protected forests. There will be bears.
    685189B6-84F6-44B2-8ED3-C6FD68D1162C.jpg
     
    uurx and Grand dude like this.
  5. Sep 19, 2019 at 6:24 AM
    #5
    MagtechPA

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    Great information in this thread, thanks much for sharing. I love the state parks in the south central and north central parts of the state. I will be up in the Susquehannock State Forest later this month! :mudding:
     
    Grand dude and PAtacoFF [OP] like this.
  6. Sep 30, 2019 at 9:14 AM
    #6
    HomerTaco

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  7. Sep 30, 2019 at 12:57 PM
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    steele-taco

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  8. Nov 20, 2019 at 6:27 PM
    #8
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest

    I only have one picture from this trip. Maybe it's because it was cold, maybe it's because I was with a couple of friends, or maybe it's because I was lazy.

    PGF SP is only an hour away from my place and about 35 minutes from my best friends place. So it is a great park to meet up at and get out in the woods for a weekend. I again used it as a base camp to check out the forest roads and dispersed camp sites. PGF SP has two bathroom facilities both recently redone and modern, one which was closed at this time of year, the other which also has the showers was open and heated. There is fire wood available to purchase in a new shed that is located just to the left of the exit from the campground loop itself (not sure why they decided to place campground host and wood there instead of at the entrance except that this area of the loop was recently repaved/upgraded) it wasn't the best value, at $5 for 6 pcs. of wood, that I've seen for wood but it is there if needed.

    I reserved site 69, just because. No really, it was was because it looked like a great site. And it was. It is right at the corner of the loop which made backing the trailer in beside my buddies 4runner and trailer easy-peasy. It was both deep and wide, and bc it was on the corner there was only one other close site and had woods access on 2.5 sides. The site was plenty big for my utility trailer conversion I've started and for my buddies new Turtle, plus three vehicles. Park staff drove by multiple times and didn't say anything about the extra vehicle BUT that doesn't mean in busier times of the season they wouldn't.
    IMG_2822.jpg

    I walked the campground loops and noted a few other sites that looked good to me as well. Criteria being on the outside of the loop or not backing to another site, deep, wide. I know when staying in state parks I will have to deal with other people, that's the price you pay for convince, but I still want to be as far away from them and not see them if possible. Sites 2 and 40 allow pets, 55 and 74 do not allow pets but were other sites noted as meeting those general criteria.

    As with my other trips this year I drove around on some of the surrounding forest roads for a few hours. Michaux State Forest is different than the other areas I visited in that nearly all of the 4x4 shared use trails are gated, and locked closed. I don't know the real reason for this but I have seen statements that Michaux is the most heavily used State Forest for recreational activities such as biking, hiking, and horseback riding. If there are times that the gates are opened I have not seen them in the many years I have been driving, hiking, or riding mountain bikes in the area. There are quite a few forest roads but again, they are more maintained that many of the forest roads in parts of Bald Eagle SF, many being paved even. If you are looking to go wheeling Michaux really isn't the place for it. It can be done, but you will really have to plan it.

    I did visit a bunch of the dispersed sites as well. Nearly all of the dispersed sites in Michaux that I visited had a small parking area just off the road, and then were blocked to vehicles by large rocks and were walk-in only sites. Since I have the RTT on the trailer these sites weren't really what I was looking for. Here are my notes.

    Dispersed sites:
    16: Gated with a lock (rangers unlock for access is my guess) Large open area, small trailer accessible, woods around, no picnic table.
    15: couldn't find it. drove past area it should be 3 times and missed it
    3: Gated with lock. Back off road, Pine trees, sloped ground, great ground tent site, possible small trailer, really soft ground due to pines
    17,18: Walk in only directly across from each other. Didn't look at them further
    23: Walk in. Back off the road
    20: "". Good Hiking area
    19: ". High on the mountain, open.
    4,6,7: all on Woodrow RD which is heavily used recreation road. All walk in 4 is the highest on the mountain, all decent to good walk in sites.

    In addition to PGF SP there is also Caledonia State Park inside of Michaux State Forest. In the summer time Caledonia has both a pool and swimming beach at one of the lakes. While camping in the State Forest itself takes a back seat there are MANY hiking, biking, horseback, and ATV trails in the area along with relatively large parking areas to accommodate all of those user groups.

    Chambersburg and Gettysburg are both only about a half hour drive from PGF SP and less from Caledonia. Both have nice restaurants, with Gettysburg having the upper hand there, and breweries, with Chambersburg having the hand there Gearhouse being a really good one. My favorite area brewery though is Thirsty Farmer Brew Works which is only 25 minutes from PGF SP and 15 from Caledonia. The cider donuts there are a MUST BUY.

    This is the last trip for the year. Probably won't start up again next year until May most likely. I have a couple of weekends boxed out already and will be hitting up a couple of the dispersed sites I scoped out as well as a few new state parks further west and or north.
     
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  9. Nov 26, 2019 at 9:42 AM
    #9
    Chris(NJ)

    Chris(NJ) Well-Known Member

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    I do the UnPAved gravel bike race in Poe/Bald every year. Its a beautiful area. Always too cold in Oct for me to camp, but it looks great for a summer getaway.
     
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  10. Nov 26, 2019 at 3:01 PM
    #10
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Moving full Poe Valley SP post to here to make room in first post in thread for an index with links. Should have done that from the start. But I didn't, :sorry:.

    Poe Valley State Park and the nearby Bald Eagle State Forest sites

    I just did a weekend trip to Poe Valley SP with my wife and son and one of our dogs. This was another new SP for me, and was chosen to explore the State Forest roads and dispersed campsites in this area.

    NOTE there are NO fully paved routes into Poe Valley SP. You will have to drive on forest roads of varying quality, some of which are quite narrow and steep depending on route chosen into the park.

    This was probably one of my least favorite SP that I have visited so far. I can't quite put my finger on why that is though. It has all of the normal amenities of a SP, new bath house, fresh potable water, electric sites. Most of the sites are small, and even though the parks website may say a site is 40ft deep good luck fitting a 30ft trailer and vehicle and then having room to move around. This park is for smaller trailers like my frankentrailer and tent campers mainly. There is a small lake with a beach for swimming and kayaking in the warmer months. I chose site 7 bc it was a pull through and they generally give more room. Due to off and on rain and being out and about I didn't get to take a picture of our setup or the site until right before pulling out. This site, along with site 16 which is also a pull through are probably the ones I would pick if returning. There is a small sewage treatment area at the far end of the loop of the campground and the smell was noticeable a couple of times. The upper part of the loop is mostly shaded and the lower part around the far end of the loop is more open, so there are choices there. [​IMG]

    The main reason for choosing Poe Valley was to use it as a jump off point of exploring the surrounding State Forest. Over the coming years I want to do more dispersed camping away from the crowds of State Parks and I am looking for the best sites. This area of Bald Eagle has mile upon mile of dirt and stone SF roads as well as a number of high clearance driveable trails that are un-gated. [​IMG][​IMG]
    Because of the weather and having my wife along (she wasn't as into the driving around in the rain as my son and I) I didn't get to take many pictures of the dispersed sites that we visited but I did get a couple.
    Site 46 sits back off of the road by a fair bit and is near a small creek that should be good for fishing. It is large enough that small RTT trailers can fit with room to turn around etc. While the site isn't completely flat there are areas that a trailer could be leveled easily or that are flat enough for a ground tent. [​IMG]

    Site 47 sits at the top of a ridgeline near a what is probably a nice overlook, the fog was so heavy though we could only see the trees right in front of us. The site is large, again room for RTT trailers and even larger possibly. It has a wooded area as well as open sun. There is one official fire ring in the open area and another rock ring built by other campers in the wooded area. [​IMG]

    Notes on other dispersed sites:
    64 - Small, open, back off the road
    65 - Nothing special. Decent tent site, small drivable turnaround
    66 - Small, in a clearing and not flat at all
    63 - Small and right on the road
    62 - Small, not flat, right on road
    61 - Small, not trailerable at all, on road, there is a small lean-to though which is kinda cool
    29 - Tiny, right off of road
    28 - Tiny, back off the road though
    23 - Off the road, decent size, BUT it is right on a mapped and posted hiking loop
    22 - only note is OK site
    44 - only note is tent only site

    There are many more sites in the area that I didn't get to visit bc of time constraints, and I will definitely check them out next year when I return to stay at one of the sites I visited this year.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    For an outdoor enthusiast there is plenty to do in this area. Trails galore for hiking, biking, horseback riding. SF roads and trails to drive on. Stocked and native trout streams to fish. Lakes and large creeks to kayak/canoe. Scenic overlooks around nearly every corner at the top of the mountains. In Millheim there is a nice brewery/restaurant with really good beer Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, and a cool little coffee shop IngleBean, along with some other restaurants opening up. There is also a decent sized locally owned grocery store just outside of town. I can fully recommend camping in this area of Bald Eagle SF whether it is at one of the State Parks or one of the dispersed sites in the forest.

    Next trip is to Caledonia SP in November and checking out the dispersed sites in the southern end of Michaux SF.

    Edit: Firewood is not available at the park. There was only one location nearby were you can buy wood. It can be found on the paved section Siglerville-Millheim Pike just before it joins Poe Valley Rd to the west of the park. There is a wood sign painted white with firewood for sale painted on it. Drive back the driveway a bit and the wood is on the right protected from rain. Wood is all scraps from Milling logs, debarked, and very dry. $10 for each bunch. Plenty for two+ fires.
     
    El_Duderino and E-Paz 732NJ like this.
  11. Nov 26, 2019 at 3:22 PM
    #11
    PAtacoFF

    PAtacoFF [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It is a beautiful area. We will definitely be visiting and camping again next year. My wife has 3-4 training seminars in State College every year and we are already planning of at least one trip where she can meet me in the woods after.
    October camping isn't too bad. November camping, that's pushing it right now. I've started to buy one thing to make my cold weather camp experience better each year. Last year it was smartwool lower base layer. This year will be at least smartwool upper base layer, and probably boots in addition. I might do the Tepui insulater since it should fit my tent also. I did lots of winter camping when I was younger and in boy scouts, but I am definitely getting soft in my older age.
     

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