Bald Eagle State Park

pa state parks

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Park Name: Bald Eagle State Park

Region: Central
Bald Eagle State Park is in Centre County, Pennsylvania.
Near the intersection of PA150 and PA26.

A Google map is at the bottom of this page

Reviewed by: Bill Ames
Best reason to go: large marina and boating, easy access, fishing, hiking, beach
Cost:  prevailing state park rates, about $15
Campsites we liked: 59 (primitive)
Overall Rating: 5/10

Some information from PA DCNR

About the campsites:

$8 off coupon

There are two camps at Bald Eagle State Park, one primitive, and one modern. The modern campground is named after Russell P. Letterman, and it has all the amenities you'd expect at a state park. It's on the 'right' side of the lake for most activities and it's close to the day use areas and beach.

The primitive campground was the only campground until recently, and while it has 35 sites, it often gets filled up, so make a reservation. the sites include picnic tables and are close enough to walk to the lake for fishing. The 'Lake Trail' runs through the campground.

Here is my journal entry from the Lakeside Trail

Visit the DCNR for a camp map.

Review:

Russell P. Letterman

One thing about the Letterman campground is that there aren't many trees. Be sure to select a site that's on the edges of the campground, or be prepared to bake in the sun. On Penn State football weekends, this campground is packed to the gills.

The sites are designed for trailers and pop-ups, but the yurts are almost new and the facilities are nice. Except for the few shady sites, they're all pretty much the same, and while they don't offer a lot of privacy, they aren't packed in, either.

Primitive…

On the primitive side, things do get primitive. There are bathrooms with running water, but there is no electricity and there are no showers, unless you drive over to the Letterman campground.

I liked site 59 for the walk-ins, mostly because it was the only one available, but partly because it had water nearby and not a neighbor for 30 yards. It was very private. Site 60 seems to have sprung a leak, so it is closed, making 59 a very nice spot, relative to the others, if you want privacy.

The sites on the primitive side are either walk-in, or pull-through. For tent campers, you must take a walk-in site if available, before using one of the pull through sites. This seems a bit draconian to me, since there are 99 sites for trailers at the Letterman campground. In any case, the walk-ins aren't toooo far from where you park, but be prepared to haul your stuff about 20 yards.

The primitive sites do include an old fire ring and picnic table. You may want to bring your own grill and a tablecloth, since they are showing some wear.

This campground seems to be the camp that time forgot, since it hasn't seen any updates since the Letterman camp was created, but don't let that scare you. What will scare you is the freight train that rolls in 2-3 times each night, less than 20 yards from your tent!

Yes, I knew there were railroad tracks nearby, and I knew the line was active, but I was not prepared to be awakened from a sound sleep by the omnipresent, thunderous, ear-splitting racket from that train. It scared the hell out of me the first time I heard it. Luckily, I was at one of the sites away from the tracks . . . some walk-in sites are no more than 15 paces away from the tracks. I can't see sleeping there at all.

All in all, Bald Eagle State Park is more of a day use park with available camping than it is a park for people who want to enjoy the outdoors. While it's easy to get to, it's also crowded throughout the season. The hiking isn't bad, but it's almost like a nature walk, and I would think that the main reason to camp here is for the water sports and fishing.

In my opinion, Raystown Lake offers better camping in the same general area. Camp at the Army Corps of Engineering Susquehannock camp site for a much better experience.

 


Photos by William Ames

 

 

 


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