If you love the great outdoors, Pennsylvania is a perfect state for you to explore. It is a state rich in both history and natural beauty. There are endless opportunities to explore from hiking and camping to fishing and kayaking. One of the best places to start is Bald Eagle State Park.
With 14.5 miles of trails, it’s perfect for a day hike or a weekend camping trip. Plus, the views are unbeatable. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to Pennsylvania for an adventure you’ll never forget. You can use this guide to plan your next Bald Eagle State Park hiking trip.
Where is Bald Eagle State Park?
The park is located in central Pennsylvania, just north of Interstate 80. You’ll find it in between Lock Haven and State College, PA. From Interstate 80, it is very easy to access via exit 158. Just head north 8.8 miles. You’ll reach the park office and main access areas within 10 minutes.
Bald Eagle State Park is a great starting point for beautiful hiking that is not too strenuous. This could be a great park to bring those who are new to hiking. You’ll find short trails with little elevation changes, which would be a good way to ease a new hiker in or just to have a relaxing weekend for more experienced adventurers.
One thing to know about hiking in Bald Eagle State Parks is that the trails are well-marked with signs at trailheads and intersections, but you won’t find blazes along the trails.
You shouldn’t have trouble following along the trails, as they’re well-beaten paths, and the meadow trails are mowed frequently in the warmer months. Just be aware and keep a park map with you, just in case!
You can stop and pick up a free one at the park office. There is a little station with maps and other pamphlets just inside the outer doors of the office building. (That’s where you can find your PA State Parks Passport Stamp too!)
Distance: 1.5 miles
Route: Out and back
The Butterfly Trail is a wide-mowed path through meadows that ends at the Frog Pond. Seasonally, wildflowers line the trail and it’s a great place to spot monarchs and other butterflies, especially during late summer and early fall.
Keep your eyes peeled for deer, birds, and other wildlife, too, while you’re exploring this area.
This trail is easy to follow. There are a couple of small hills along the trail, but it is otherwise flat and great for most visitors.
You can access the Butterfly Trail from the parking area near the beach and the day-use picnic area.
Hunter Run East Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
The East portion of the Hunter Run Trail is full of a variety of terrain, including grassy meadows and forested areas.
With the variety that you’ll pass through along the trail, you’ll also have the chance to see wildlife or the signs that they have left behind.
This trail can be muddy, especially after heavy rains. Wear appropriate footwear! There are also a few steep grades that you will have to navigate along this trail.
Access the east portion of the Hunter Run Trail from the Hunter Run Road, on the opposite side of route 150 from the rest of the park.
Hunter Run West Trail
Distance: 2.2 miles
On the west side of Hunter Run, there is also a mix of fields and forests.
These are more primitive-type trails, but they are typically mowed for maintenance. You just might get your feet wet after a heavy rail, so be prepared with footwear!
You can combine this trail with the east portion for a hike of around 5 miles in a figure-8 pattern. There are a couple of steep inclines to navigate, but overall nothing extremely challenging.
Distance: 5.6 miles
Hike the Lakeside Trail to get a view of the main areas of the park, including the beach and picnic areas, from across the lake.
You can pick this trail up from the Bald Eagle Launch in Howard and end at the rustic campground.
This trail is not a true loop. It’s more of a lollipop route, so there will be a little bit of backtracking, but you’ll get to see more views out over the lake along this portion.
Skyline Drive Trail
Distance: 2.0 miles
Route: Out and back
The Skyline Drive Trail weaves its way through the middle of the park, connecting different points including the beach and picnic areas, overlooks, and the modern campground.
There is a variety of terrain to cross including open fields, swampy areas, and wooded forests.
This is a great hike to combine with other trails in the park for a full-day hike.
Swamp Oak Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
The Swamp Oak Trail is a short, flat, and easy connector trail in the park, so it’s one that might be easily glossed over.
You’ll find one of the largest oak trees in the entire state along this trail, though! It’s one of the highlights of the park.
Pick up the trail from the modern campground, near the amphitheater.
The swamp oak trail also connects the modern campground to the skyline drive trail.
Distance: 1.75 miles
Route: Out and back
Be sure to wear waterproof shoes or boots on this trail after heavy rains! The Woapalanne Path runs close to the lake and can be overtaken by flooding when the lake is high.
The path is relatively flat, and you can pick it up from the main park area, near pavilions 6 and 7.
The opposite end of the path ends near the end of FJ Sayers Road, at the boat launch and lookout point. You can see a great view of the dam from this point.
FAQs: Bald Eagle State Park
Here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions we get when talking about the park. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, send us a message and we’ll try to help!
When is the best time to visit Bald Eagle State Park?
Bald Eagle has things to do during all times of the year, so the best time to visit depends on which activities you’d like to take advantage of.
Summer is best for enjoying the lake in kayaks and spending time on the beach.
Fall colors and better temperatures make it a great time for hiking. Early fall is also the best time to see butterflies along the butterfly trail.
Those looking for winter activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and skating will find plenty of opportunities for those things in the park.
What is the longest trail in Bald Eagle State Park?
The longest single trail in Bald Eagle is the Lakeside Trail, found near the rustic campground, which is over 5 miles in length.
Combining the Hunter Run Trails also ends in a hike of around 5 miles.
How many trails are in Bald Eagle State Park?
There are 7 different trails in the park, which we’ve outlined in this article. Bald Eagle is a great spot for hiking of all ability levels, although you won’t find anything too difficult or technically challenging here.
Which trail has the most elevation gain in Bald Eagle State Park?
There is not a ton of elevation change in this park, so the hikes are generally pretty easy. You’ll find the most elevation change along the Hunter Run Trails, although the change still isn’t extremely difficult.
Are there bald eagles at Bald Eagle State Park?
While you are not guaranteed to see any eagles in the park, there is a known nesting pair near the north end of the lake. Keep your eyes toward the sky for those dark-bodied, white-headed creatures.
Bald Eagle State Park has many trails that lead to beautiful views of the surrounding area and allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. There are several lake access points where you can fish, swim, canoe, kayak, and boat.
But if you’re looking for even more adventure, you can hike through the woods and see wildlife like bald eagles, deer, turtles, snakes, butterflies, and much more. We hope you enjoy these Bald Eagle State Park hiking trails and everything that the park has to offer.