Penn Roosevelt State Park

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This is a map of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania broken into seven regions.

Penn Roosevelt State Park Region: Central

Reviewed by: Bill Ames
Best reason to go: Starting point for hikes; solitude
Cost: prevailing rates, ~$15-$20
Prime Campsites: pretty much all the same
Rating: 5/10

About the Campsites:

The camp sites at PRSP are all rustic, and the rest facilities are rather quaint, to say the least. If you're squeamish about critters, you may opt for a different park. On the other hand, if you don't mind sharing the head with a few crickets and spiders, this might be the place for you. There is no running water and no flush toilets. There is potable water.

All of the camp sites are about the same, honestly. There are some walk-in sites that are more private than the pull up sites, but they're all spaced evenly—which is a bit too close for my tastes. The walk-in sites offer a bit of distance between you and the next-door neighbors. Sites are first-come, first-served, and sometimes the park is full when you get there.

After calling the park office at Greenwood Furnace, I was told that I could camp there off-season, so long as I could get there in whatever weather there might be. The DCNR web site doesn't say this is so, but you might want to give a call to the folks at Greenwood Furnace if you want to camp there in the late fall, winter or early spring.

Penn Roosevelt State Park


The park, like so many in Pennsylvania, was built as a flood control project by the CCC. Now it's a small dam and a public use area with rough camping and a day-use area, which has a few charcoal stoves, strategically located.

So if the camp sites are nothing more than a fire ring and a spot to pull over, and if the head is less-then-modern, why would somebody want to camp there? The answer is that it's in the middle of nowhere. You won't find RVs and TVs at this campground. It's about as close to camping in the rough as there is in a PA state park. This is quite attractive to a lot of people. For one thing, the drive is about 10 miles from any direction along dirt roads. The roads are nice, but they are unpaved, state forest roads, and this keeps the tourists away.

For me, the best reason to stay at PRSP is as a trailhead. It's in the middle of a nice section of the Mid State Trail, and it's a perfect spot to camp without the hassle of packing in all of your gear. Essentially, it turns a backpacking trip into two nice day hikes. Another reason you might want to camp at PRSP is fishing. Granted, it's a tiny pond, but there are fish in the 3 acre lake. If it's just nature you're looking for, it's all around you here, and it's not a bad spot to use as a base camp, exploring the area. For example, the Alan Seegar Natural Area is just a few miles down the road.

Regarding the trails in the area, both directions on the MST are nice. If you head south, you'll cross Thickhead Mountain and Laurel Run. This section of the trail follows an old rail bed, which is damned rocky, but the section along Detweiler Run is quite nice. It's almost re-historic, nestled in a tight valley with thick foliage. If you continue, you'll end up on the hill overlooking Bear Meadows, which is a nice side trip. Heading to Bear Meadows and back would make for a nice hike, but it's a bit strenuous, and I wouldn't recommend it to a novice. For more conditioned hikers, it's a great day hike, especially if you make it all the way over to the Indian Wells Vista.

From the other side, heading North, you get to climb up Bald Mountain(or is it Broad Mountain? mountains around here are loosely defined sometimes, and I can't keep them all straight). The MST in this direction offers some very nice views, and if you're up to it, you can get all the way to PA 322, actually hiking under it where it crosses the "Seven Mountains" area. Parking a car at the rest stop there makes a good one-way 6 mile hike. I have a trail map here.

As a jump-off point, I really like Penn Roosevelt, but if all I want is to camp, I really wouldn't pick it, unless I wanted to camp in the off-season.

Visit the DCNR for more information.

Penn Roosevelt State Park Penn Roosevelt State Park Penn Roosevelt State Park Penn Roosevelt State Park

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