Pennsylvania has 124 locations in its park system dotted throughout the state. They are filled with the lush green beauty that abounds from the Appalachian Mountains to the edges of pristine lakes and rivers. But, of all the Pennsylvania state parks, which one is the largest?
Pymatuning State Park is the largest state park in Pennsylvania. This park on the northwest border of PA contains 21,122 beautiful acres, including land and water. Central to the park is the largest reservoir in the Commonwealth— Pymatuning Lake, a popular fishing destination.
Pymatuning is filled with opportunities to hike, camp, swim, boat, and much more. However, so many acres to explore can seem overwhelming to many visitors. The following sections make it easy to choose where to visit by explaining different parts of the state park.
The Largest State Park in Pennsylvania
Pymatuning State Park is just below the northwest corner of Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, with Pymatuning Reservoir the main attraction in the middle. Ohio has a sister state park that also has a few hundred acres of Pymatuning Reservoir within its boundaries.
The following sections will apply to the areas of the park in Pennsylvania. The large amount of acreage within the park in Pennsylvania means those enjoying the park can find their own secluded slice of it to explore, and best of all, it is free to visit.
The history of Pymatuning State Park goes back 3000 years ago to when people known as Mound Builders inhabited the land where Pymatuning now sits. The people got their nickname from the large mound-shaped structures they built. Despite the marshy ground, the early inhabitants grew things like corn, squash, and beans. Mysteriously, the end of this civilization is unknown.
The area’s history continues with Native American communities, European settlers, and American Pioneers. However, many of these groups had trouble developing the land because it was so swampy. Finally, after historically destructive floods, the Pennsylvania legislature decided to act, which provided money for a dam.
Eventually, the swampy land was transformed by the dam on the Shenango and Beaver Rivers, creating Pymatuning Reservoir in 1934. Shortly after the breathtaking lake was created, Pymatuning was dedicated as an official state park in 1937. Upon completion of the reservoir, Pymatuning blossomed into a beautiful habitat ideal for outdoor recreation.
There are a few smaller towns within 5 miles of the park. Jamestown is just 2.4 miles from the park’s southern end, and Linesville sits a few miles outside the park’s north end. Hartstown and Andover are located outside the middle of the park—Hartstown to the east and Andover west. So no matter what part of the park visitors are in, there is a small town not far away.
These smaller towns offer some, but limited, food, lodging, and groceries. For tourists hoping to enjoy both a bigger city and Pymatuning State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, is 57 miles away and Pittsburgh is 86 miles away. In these bigger cities, road-trippers can enjoy more options for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Pymatuning is a great place to visit in both the summer and the winter, as it is open throughout the year. The park has three main sections: the south shore, north shore, and east shore.
The south shore includes the Jamestown Campground, a boat launch, camping, day use, and picnic areas. The south shore also has a park office offering information and education. To get to the south shore of Pymatuning State Park, visitors can access US 322 from the east or west and get to the bottom of the park.
The park’s north shore is where the Linesville Campground is located, along with a beach, marina, boat ramp, and cabins for camping. The Linesville Campground is smaller than the Jamestown Campground but has plenty of shade, and there are RV hookups at some of the sites.
Additionally, the restrooms at the Linesville site are a little better than the ones located at the Jamestown site. The north shore of the park is best reached via US 6.
The east shore of the park includes Tuttle Point, Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area, and plenty of shoreline. These waterfronts include boat launches, a marina, and beaches. For the easiest access to the east shore, use PA 285.
Luckily for visitors, each of the shores are connected by various roads throughout the park. The different routes go all the way around Pymatuning Lake. The lake is one of the biggest things about the park and the largest lake in the Commonwealth. Since Pymatuning Lake/Reservoir is in the middle of the park, most activities center around it.
Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Along with providing recreation to visitors, Pymatuning Lake also serves as a basin for excess water to prevent flooding around the region. Additionally, the spillway enables the park to maintain the ideal habitat for wildlife by controlling the amount of water in the upper reservoir.
Here are some of the most popular Pymatuning Lake activities.
- Linesville Spillway. Over 400,000 people visit this unusual tourist attraction on Hartstown Road, where you can feed the carp bread or fish pellets. The carp congregate in this area so much that they are essentially piled on top of each other.
- Visit some of Pymatuning’s three public beaches. Many beaches are accompanied by picnic areas with pavilions and playground equipment.
- Driving the Pymatuning State Park Causeway Road. The road reaches across the Lake for two miles. There are a few places to pull off and walk down to the water. This location is a popular place to catch a Pennsylvania sunset bursting with purple and orange.
- Kayak or paddleboard on the lake. Explore on your own or join a group for paddleboard yoga, Kayaking 101, or a Full Moon Kayak Float.
- Fishing for large and smallmouth bass, perch, bluegill, and many other kinds of fish from the shore. Ice fishing is a popular winter activity. Always take proper precautions when ice fishing.
Are Dogs Allowed at Pymatuning State Park?
Many visitors will be happy to hear that they can bring their four-legged furry friends into Pymatuning State Park. However, pet owners should be aware of the rules and regulations regarding dogs at the state park. Pets are not allowed in the reservoir/lake swimming locations, but they are welcome throughout the rest of the park unless posted otherwise. A few other rules are that pets should be cleaned up after and leashed within 6 feet. Pets are also not allowed in park buildings.
Pymatuning State Park also provides overnight areas where pets are allowed. The two overnight sites that allow pets are the Jamestown and Linesville campsites. Pets should always be controlled and never let to run free as they might scare the native wildlife.
The fact that you can bring your whole family (pets included) is yet another reason to visit Pymatuning State Park.
Does Pymatuning State Park Have WiFi?
Since most of the park is a lake, rivers, and wooded areas, there is minimal WiFi. Those requiring internet connectivity should check with the places they will visit to see if there’s any WiFi available.
A good option for those who cannot find WiFi in the park is to take a short drive to one of the close towns and find a café or restaurant that offers WiFi.
Though there’s not much in the way of internet connections, this creates an excellent opportunity for guests to unplug and thoroughly enjoy Pennsylvania’s beauty.
Is There a Town under Pymatuning Lake?
Before the dam was built, there was a large swamp where the Pymatuning Lake now sits. Since people once inhabited the area that is now the bottom of the lake, several ancient remnants of the Mound Builder’s dwellings remain beneath the water.
Though the remains of a few mounds were flooded with the lake’s creation, they had long been abandoned.
What is the Runner-up Park, and How Big is It?
Pennsylvania has no shortage of state parks to visit. After the 21,122-acre Pymatuning, Ohiopyle State Park is the next largest state park in Pennsylvania, with 20,633 acres. This park is in the southern portion of the state. There are millions of people who visit each year.
One of the main attractions of Ohiopyle State Park is the Youghiogheny River Gorge. This powerful river creates some of the best whitewater rapids in the eastern United States. Some trek to the park to take on the daunting whitewater, and others visit to enjoy the scenery of the rushing river.
This park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. In addition to whitewater enjoyment, visitors frequently rock climb, mountain bike, ride horses, and fish. During the winter, sledding and cross-country skiing are popular park adventures.
For those looking for a multi-day stay, the park offers overnight camping areas at certain times of the year.
Though it’s not as large as Pymatuning State Park, Ohiopyle State Park presents thousands of acres of rugged country to explore and enjoy.
The Charm of Pymatuning State Park
Pymatuning State Park is the largest state park in Pennsylvania and is the perfect day trip or weekend getaway. There are thousands of acres of woods and water to visit. This park is big enough to keep visitors busy for many days as they navigate around the lake and see beaches, meadows, woodlands, and wildlife.