Few camping trips can compare to the ones that are waking up to the light rising over the serenity of a lake nestled in the woods. Thankfully though, Pennsylvanians are in luck. There are a host of amazing campsites within this state that provide superb lake camping in Pennsylvania, and one doesn’t have to look very far to find a hidden gem.
So, for those who are gearing up for their next big escape into the mountains, be sure to check some of these campsites out first. We think you’ll be pleased.
The 20 Best Places For Lake Camping in Pennsylvania
Codorus State Park
First on our list for the best lake camping in Pennsylvania is Codorus State Park.
If you enjoy the green hills of Ireland, you’ll enjoy the rolling hills of Codorus State Park. You’ve 3500 acres to explore here, with the massive 1275-acre Lake Marburg nestled within. Aside from getting to camp by such an awesome area, you can also try your hand at scuba diving in Sinsheim Cove!
With 26 miles of shoreline to explore and plenty of fishing in the area available, Codorus State Park makes for a superb getaway.
Camping is free if you’re willing to be a host for at least two weeks. Fifteen sites are tents only within the campground.
Locust Lake State Park
There’s plenty of room to enjoy the wild at this 1772-acre state park nestled right at the base of Locust Mountain, and plenty of water to enjoy as well. Locust Lake is 52-acres smack dab in between two separate campgrounds, so you have options here when it comes to finding a place to set up shop.
You don’t have to worry about seasonal closings here either, as the park is open throughout the entire length of the year. There are some seasonal restrictions on the beach and camping, but the park itself is always available to explore.
Campgrounds nestle along opposing sides of the lake, and are free if you’re willing to spend time as a campground host.
Tuscarora State Park
If you’re looking to collect campgrounds, Tuscacrora State Park should be your next stop right after Locust Lake. This 1618-acre state park is right beside Locust Lake, yet has it’s own lake as well – Tuscarora Lake. This is a popular fishing hole as well, so make sure that you bring your tackle box!
Guided walks are available, and this park is even ADA accessible, should you need a site that is wheelchair-friendly.
Yurts and cottages are available for rent a short distance from the lake. Tent camping is not permitted.
Prince Gallitzin State Park
Want to check out Glendale Lake? (The answer is ‘yes’.) Then, Prince Gallitzin State Park is the place to do it. As you explore the 26 miles of shoreline here as the sun rises over the lake you’ll quickly come to discover – this place has a regal atmosphere to it.
You have 1635 acres of lake to explore in your canoe here, so make sure you pack a picnic basket. Prince Gallitzin is an area you’re going to want to spend all day exploring.
Free tent camping is available to those who are willing to serve as a host for two weeks/80 hours. Camping is available all along the lake.
Pymatuning State Park
The largest lake in Pennsylvania? The Pymatuning Reservoir. If you’re looking to head out and get lost on your paddle board early in the morning after a backpacker’s brew of java, this 17,088 -acre lake is the place to do it. Just be careful of the boaters. They’re all over this lake.
Part of the reason those boaters are there though is because of the fantastic fishing. A fish hatchery is nearby, meaning Pymatuning State Park is one of your best stops in Pennsylvania for consistent angling success.
Camping is free for those who are willing to stay four weeks to work as host 40 hours/week. Campgrounds are all along the lake.
Shawnee State Park
This park has so much to do by the time you fish exploring Shawnee, you’ll probably be a little yawnee. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Shawnee Lake itself is 451 acres in size, and the park gives you plenty of room to move about too – it’s 3983 acres. Snowmobile trails, a playground, hot showers – all of these are available here as you take the time to recoup from civilization in the woods.
Camping is free for those who are willing to be hosts “long term.” Tent camping is available along the Kegg Runn finger of the lake.
Kettle Creek State Park
Kettle Creek is absolutely beautiful. A picturesque 167-acre lake awaits you tucked into a little bowl nestled between verdant mountains. It’s truly stunning. Bring your kayak with you. This is an excellent place to spend hours just floating for those seeking to escape the boaters.
Hosts can camp for free, if they’re willing to work at least 80 hours. Two campgrounds are available: one by the Kettle Creek Reservoir, and a more primitive site by Kettle Creek.
Hickory Run State Park
Another amazing place to go lake camping in Pennsylvania is Hickory Run State Park.
If you’re looking for plenty of waterfalls, easy hikes, and not one, but two lakes, then you need to stop at Hickory Run State Park. If you enjoy history, make sure you check out the cemetery near the visitors’ center on your way in. This is one park you’ve been dying to see.
Camping is free for those willing to work at least 120 hours over three weeks. Camping is predominantly along the small outlet from the nearby lake.
Parker Dam State Park
You may get the opportunity to spot an elk as you stay in this state park. Known for it’s large lake, Parker Dam has no entrance fee, permits dogs, and even has a playground. Make sure you swing by to Applewood BBQ when you’re here.
Camping is free for hosts willing to work at least two weeks. Open meadows in the north end of the park serve as tent camping locations.
Sinnemahoning State Park
Shinnemahoning state park is another perfect spot for lake camping in Pennsylvania.
A quiet state park tucked away in the mountains alongside a 145-acre lake, you’ll be hanging out with the elk here in Sinnemahoning. The trails here will take you to some absolutely stunning views, and the fishing’s fantastic here as well.
Campgrounds are one mile south of the park office. Camping is free to hosts willing to work at least two weeks.
Promised Land State Park
There are some gorgeous trails through the woods of Promised Land State Park, and plenty of lake to toy around with as well, but make sure to watch out for the black bears! There seem to be a number of them that have made themselves comfortable here. Check out The Boathouse Restaurant while you’re in the area for some rockin’ salmon.
Campgrounds are scattered throughout the park, but the tent camping is all within short distance of the lake. Camping is free to those willing to work at least 160 hours over a minimum four week period.
Bald Eagle State Park
You’ll never guess what type of bird you can regularly spot here. These can be found soaring high over the lake in search of their next meal, and provide plenty of photo opportunities for the bird lover.
There’s plenty of beach access here as well though, the swimming is great, and you can even bring your boat out to Bald Eagle State Park. Camping and pizza go hand in hand, and the nearby Brother’s Pizza can help you to make that happen.
Camping is available less than a mile from the lake, and is free to those willing to work as hosts.
Lyman Run State Park
Beautiful. That’s the best way to describe this park. Secluded camping. Streams. A fish-filled lake nestled in the heart of green mountains. And quiet. Plenty of peace and quiet. If those are the characteristics you are looking for, you need to take a hard look at Lyman Run. You won’t regret it.
Camping is predominantly along the streams throughout the park, and is free to those willing to work as hosts for a minimum of two weeks.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Not one lake, but two! It’s here that you can get the chance to do some incredibly hiking through some stunning rock formations, check out the Appalachian Trail Museum, and spend a bit of time mountain biking as well. Speaking of the Appalachian Trail, it actually runs through this park!
Come to Pine Grove Furnace in the summer and you’re bound to get the chance to bum a funny hiking story off of a through hiker in exchange for some food.
Campgrounds are about a mile from the camp store, and one host position is available, granting the host the right to camp for free.
Hill Creek State Park
Kayak rentals, a beach, hiking trails, beautiful views – whatever it is you’re looking for, Hill Creek has it. Dad burn the burgers again? The nearby burger shack in the park can even help with that! There is a lot of space between camping sites here as well.
All of this combines helps to make Hill Creek State Park one of our favorite lakeside camping destinations in Pennsylvania.
Camping is permitted along the north side of the park, and is free to those willing to work 80 hours over the course of two weeks as a host.
Moraine State Park
If you’re looking for well-kept trails – or even for the opportunity to do a little trail ride with your horse – Moraine State Park serves as an excellent source of both. Paved walking trails are also available for those seeking an easier path to trod. Several beaches are present for swimming, and this park leaves you with enough room between other visitors to breathe.
Cabins are available for rent at the north end of the park, but only organized groups are permitted to tent camp. No other form of camping is permitted.
A privately-owned campground in Waymart, Pennsylvania, Keen Lake campground has a little bit of everything. RV, cabin, and tent camping are all permitted, and many of the campsites actually nestle up just feet away from Keen Lake itself.
You’ll spend around $60/night to tent camp here, but the setting is superb, pets are permitted at the beach, and there’s an on-site ice cream store!
Pine Cradle Lake
If you’re looking for a good camp to take small children, Pine Cradle Lake is worth your checking out. This privately-owned campground surrounds an 18-acre lake full of fish. A heated pool and splash pad is available for kids as well.
Note, this isn’t going to be a quiet experience, but your kids are bound to love it. Tent camping is available for approximately $50/night.
Featuring a 25-acre lake, freshly mowed grass, and near the mountains, this campground offers plenty of space to breathe with minimal fussy topography. Tent sites are all tucked away back in the woods, but a security team is on-site, an arcade is present, and putt-putt is nearby as well.
Evergreen Lake is a privately-owned campground, but your kids are liable to love it, and you can visit for only $38.00/night.
Last but not least of our picks for the best lake camping in Pennsylvania is Ironwood Point.
Enjoy watching sail boats coast along serene waters? Then you’ll enjoy Ironwood Point. All kinds of water sports are available to participate in here, and there’s plenty of hiking through the surrounding woods for the land-lovers in your family as well.
Camping costs $40/night for tents, though it’s a bit more expensive if you want to camp right beside the lake.
Where’s Your Favorite Spot For Lake Camping in Pennsylvania?
Did we include your top picks for lake camping in Pennsylvania or did we pass it by? Have you ever been to any of the above campsites? Are there other hidden gems in Pennsylvania? Let us know in the comments below!