Pinchot Lake shines as jewel at state park
The two faces of Gifford Pinchot State Park stare at one another across Pinchot Lake.
The east side of the lake, Conewago Day Use Area, has many of the same amenities as the west side, called Quaker Race Day Use Area: playgrounds, charcoal grills, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, boat rentals. Conewago has a softball field, while Quaker Race has a volleyball court. The concession stand is on the Quaker Race side.
While visitors typically have a favorite side, the real jewel is the lake itself.
"That lake is beautiful, offering some top-notch fishing," said Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Hiking: This is a park with a trail for everyone, from easy routes to difficult ones. It has 18 miles of trails, and many of them interconnect. That doesn't include the 200 miles of the Mason-Dixon Trail accessible from Conley Road in the east or Squire Gratz and Thundergust Mill roads in the northwest.
Fishing: The lake has largemouth bass and hybrid striped bass, among others.
Biking trails: Four miles of trails.
Swimming: The Quaker Race side has an ADA-accessible beach. It's open from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Boating: Kayaks, canoes and paddleboats are available for rent on both sides, and three launch areas allow boaters to bring in their own water crafts.
Disc golf courses: Both sides of the lake have disc courses. The Conewago side is flat and easier for families, while the Quaker side is hilly and more challenging.
Horseback riding trails
Camping, cabins, yurts and cottages: The state has been upgrading the camping and rental options at the state parks, especially the highly popular RV sites, Brady said.
For a picnic: The charcoal grills are rustic but useful for a hot dog feast. Picnic tables dot both sides of the lake as well. For more comfort, pack lawn chairs and blankets for more seating options.
Where it is: Pinchot is between Lewisberry and Rossville, off of Route 177.
Its namesake: Gifford Pinchot's deep commitment to the forestry service made him the chief of the Forest Service under Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. At that time, national forests covered 56 million acres, and by 1910, they totaled 172 million acres. According to the U.S. Forest Service, he is considered the "father" of American conservation. Pinchot grew up in Milford, Pa.
Where to explore nearby: Pinchot is close to Ski Roundtop, 925 Roundtop Road, Lewisberry, which has a few unusual excursions for families during the warm weather months. One of those is OGO Balls – 11-foot diameter balls that you ride inside as it tumbles down the hill. There's also paint ball and a ropes course. Just like people favor one of the two sides of Pinchot Lake, there is an equal debate over the ice cream. Reeser's Ice Cream, 880 Old Rossville Road, Lewisberry, serves soft ice cream, but it also has hamburgers, subs, French fries and other dishes. Forry's, 930 Alpine Road, Alpine, has similar entrees along with malted milkshakes, sundaes, and a variety of flavors.