Discover my backyard! These Northeast Pennsylvania parks invite you to explore their great outdoors. Located in Scranton/Wilkes – Barre area, they are within easy reach from metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia. Come for hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, camping, wildlife watching, and more. With no entrance fees, they open the door to your next adventure.
There are a lot of great parks in Northeast Pennsylvania, many of them within a close distance to my home in Clarks Summit. They remind me that I can find adventure just around the corner. No need to pack, no jet lag, no need to take days off. This is traveling at its best. And it is free!
Imagine kayaking on in the dark in complete silence. It is just you and the full moon above you. Your thoughts are gone, your worries disappeared. You feel so small that at this moment nothing else matters. There is an overwhelming feeling of happiness for no other reason but the beauty of the moment. (Read more about this adventure.)
What I described above is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I did not have to look for it in faraway places. I found it at Lackawanna State Park, just a short drive from my home. Join me on a tour of Northeast Pennsylvania parks I love. I am sure they will appeal to you too.
My Top Three Northeast Pennsylvania Parks
1. Lackawanna State Park
Only twenty minutes from my house, it has been a part of my life ever since I arrived in the area 28 years ago. That was the first park I visited in Pennsylvania and since then I probably visited it close to a hundred times.
Every visit is different – with nature there is no repetition. My favorite season at this park is the fall when colorful trees are reflecting in the lake. The scenery changes not only by seasons, but with a changing light almost hour by hour. This is a never-ending creation that could be enjoyed over and over again.
Park’s main picnic area overlooks the lake. Grills and modern restrooms are scattered throughout the area. Three picnic pavilions are available.
Swimming is prohibited in the lake. The new pool will reopen in 2016. The project will include new shower facilities, food concession, a spray ground/splash zone.
About 15 miles of multi-use trails wind through the park, traversing hills, lake shore, forests and fields. Fishing is very popular in the park, including ice fishing. There is also a nice wooded campground (with fee).
This park is perfect to enjoy the fall. (See another outstanding fall destination in nearby New York State – Letchworth State Park)
2. Merli – Sarnoski Park in Lackawanna County
This park is a little farther from my house so I do not visit it that often but every time I come something magical happens.
Once I visited in the fall on a cloudy rainy day but the sky opened up above me and illuminated the lake with the strong ray of light. It looked like heaven. The 35-acre lake covered with leaves exploded with vibrant colors contrasting against heavy sky. It was a magnificent scene. Even an bald eagle was soaring over my head!
During my last winter visit as soon as stepped out of my car I knew that another miracle was happening, every tree, every bush, every branch was covered with a tiny shiny coat of ice – frozen vapor that dressed an entire area around the lake. It was a fairytale scene just for me – I was the only person in the park.
This park offers picnic areas with tables and charcoal grills, two pavilions, fishing pier, eight-mile cross country mountain bike trail, a sandy beach area with bath houses, boat launch, 15 miles of hiking, two playground areas with basketball and volleyball courts, and regulation soccer field.
3. Rickets Glen State Park
One of the most scenic Northeast Pennsylvania parks Ricketts Glens state Park is a hikers paradise. The main attraction of the park is 7.2 mile Fall Trail which follows a series of waterfalls. The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. This is not an easy hike, the terrain is rocky and often slippery, but the scenery is well worth the effort.
Camping is available and features hot showers, flush toilets, shaded sites, gravel parking spurs and a sanitary dump station. In the campground, five cottages are available for rent. Boating, canoeing, fishing, hunting and swimming are also available.
(If visiting Pennsylvania with kids, also check out educational sites in Hershey. )