Camping + Fall Foliage at Gifford Pinchot State Park, PA

Sara Melissa Frost
Photo by Sara Melissa Frost

When moving to Pennsylvania, I expected it to be all farmland. And there's a lot of it. But there are also some stunning state parks in the commonwealth. Gifford Pinchot State Park is an over 2,300-acre state park, located in the northern part of York County, between the towns of Rossville and Lewisberry. The park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides with the Pinchot Lake being a top reason for visitors making the trip out. It is a gorgeous area, and I recently made the trip out here for the first time.

Colorful scenery

Coming here during fall foliage was the best thing we could've done. Walking through the scenery with colorful trees was a beautiful experience. Pennsylvania actually has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the country, according to Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and if you want to experience this colorful display, October is the time to go.
Photo by Sara Melissa Frost

Family camping

The park also serves as a family-friendly place to go camping. With their 289 campsites at the southern end of the lake, there are often spots open, depending on the season and the weather. All of the sites have macadam pads and can accommodate virtually any piece of camping equipment from a large motor home to a tiny tent.

The fact that you can drive your car the whole way up to the camping site makes it easy to bring kids and equipment. Pets are permitted on several of the campsites, and some of the sites have electric hook-ups. We had a grill at our camping spot, and we were able to purchase firewood from the campground host. Super easy.


Pinchot Lake is a warm-water fishery, and the lake is designated a Big Bass Lake. Special regulations cover the minimum size and creel limits for all species of bass. Some of the common species you might be able to catch if you're lucky are Largemouth bass, Hybrid striped bass, Catfish, Walleye, and Sunfish.

There are certain laws and regulations when it comes to fishing in Pennsylvania. In general, everyone at the age of 16 and up should have a valid fishing license. A license can be purchased online or in a tackle shop. When fishing in the state, you should have your license visibly displayed while fishing.

Gifford Pinchot State Park is a beautiful park with so many options. There are several trails, the one-mile Old Farm trail being the easiest one, and the Pinchot Trail being the most difficult one. This trail starts at the environmental learning center and climbs past a large diabase rock outcropping that once formed the beginning of the abandoned toboggan run.

Whether you're planning a day trip, or you're aiming for a wildlife weekend camping, or you simply want to spend some time in nature, Gifford Pinchot State Park is a good place to be.

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Journalist and writer. I cover local stories + food, mostly from PA.

Lititz, PA

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