18 State Parks near Pittsburgh you Need to Explore (They’re All Within a 2-Hour Drive!)

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Is the great outdoors calling your name? Are you looking for an adventurous escape while still staying close to Pittsburgh? Look no further! There are plenty of state parks near Pittsburgh that allow you to explore nature, have an adventure, and connect with the world around you.

Pittsburgh is a city full of culture and life. Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, it has so much to offer within the city limits – from rivers & parks to restaurants & attractions. But if you’re wanting to take your adventure further, there are plenty of incredible state parks within a two-hour driving radius of Pittsburgh.

No matter what type of activity you prefer – hiking, biking, fishing, or swimming – these 18 amazing state parks near Pittsburgh will create unforgettable memories.

Whether you want to discover new trails or just relax by a tranquil creek; here are some ideas on how to get out there and experience nature in all its glory! 

State Parks near Pittsburgh: Map

State Parks near Pittsburgh (From Closest to Farthest Away)

The city of Pittsburgh has some absolutely fantastic state parks within a 2-hour drive. We’ve arranged this list from the ones closest to those requiring about 2 hours of driving to reach.

Within these state parks near Pittsburgh, you’ll find waterfalls, lakes, gorges, beaches, and old-growth forests. There is so much natural beauty in western Pennsylvania waiting to be explored.

1. Point State Park

Distance: 0 miles (It’s right in the middle of downtown!)

Drive Time: 0 minutes

Point State Park is not just a state park near Pittsburgh. It's right in the center of the city! All the green space next to the fountain makes up Point State Park.

Point State Park might not be a secluded getaway, but it is a spot where you can find some natural areas right in the middle of Pittsburgh, PA.

Head downtown to “the point” in Pittsburgh, it’s the perfect spot for those looking for an easy way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for some green space.

The park features a large fountain at its center, which is surrounded by lush green grass and trees.

There are also plenty of walking paths that wind through the park, allowing visitors to explore the area and take in the scenic views of the city skyline, across the river to the North Shore, and up to Mount Washington.

2. Allegheny Islands State Park

Distance: 14 miles (east)

Drive Time: 20 minutes

Allegheny Islands State Park is a great quick getaway for those looking to explore the outdoors near Pittsburgh.

Located just 14 miles east of downtown, this park offers visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature on the park’s 50 undeveloped acres.

The park is made up of 2 small islands in the Allegheny River, which are only reachable by boat. Visitors can explore the islands on unofficial footpaths and take in the views of the river. 

Enjoy activities such as fishing, boating, and bird-watching.

3. Hillman State Park

Distance: 27 miles (west)

Drive Time: 30 minutes

Hillman State Park is located just west of the city of Pittsburgh. It’s a lesser-known day-use park offering hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife opportunities. 

Unique about Hillman State Park is a radio-controlled airplane field, where pilots can test out their model airplane flying skills and designs. At the K. Leroy Irvis Radio Control Model Airport, there are runways, a covered shelter area, and other amenities for those who love to fly model airplanes. 

It is managed by a local model aeronautics club, and you can pre-register with park staff to utilize the space. 

There are also nearly 35 miles of hiking trails within the state park, making Hillman a great space to get out and get some exercise. Explore the areas of the Lyle Covered Bridge on the eastern edge of the park along Kramer Road, another unique feature of the park.

4. Raccoon Creek State Park

Distance: 30 miles (west)

Drive Time: 35 minutes

Combine a visit to Hilman State Park with nearby Raccoon Creek. They are only 10 minutes apart! 

Raccoon Creek has great facilities available, including overnight camping spaces. Plan to camp at the campground or in one of the modern cabins. There are also nearly 20 miles of backpacking trails, but reserve one of the 10 backpacking sites ahead of time if you plan to utilize them. 

Highlights of Raccoon Creek State Park include the wildflower reserve with blooming flowers during the summer and the Mineral Springs Trail, where a resort in the 1800s used to boast the healing properties of the onsite mineral spring water. 

Swim, fish, or boat on the lake on the east side of the park.

5. Keystone State Park

Distance: 35 miles (east)

Drive Time: 40 minutes

On the opposite side of the city, about 40 minutes to the east, Keystone State Park sits around the lake of the same name. 

With plenty of campsites, and also cabins, cottages, and yurts to spend the night, there are many options to get away for a few days. 

While there are only 8 miles of hiking trails, there are also swimming and boating opportunities on Keystone lake. 

Only the Lakeside Trail is open to bikes. All other trails are for hiking only.

6. Moraine State Park

Distance: 40 miles (north)

Drive Time: 40 minutes

Swimming from one of the Lake Arthur beaches is popular summertime activity in Moraine State Park.
Enjoy views of Lake Arthur or explore miles of hiking trails at Moraine State Park.

Moraine State Park is located just north of the city of Pittsburgh and is one of the largest state parks in Pennsylvania.

Centered around the 3000+ acre Lake Arthur, each year the park hosts events like a weekend Regatta. Get out on the lake and enjoy all that it has to offer, including fishing, kayaking, swimming, and tubing.

Bike the 7-mile paved bicycle trail or hike a section of the North Country Trail. There are multiple overlooks and areas to explore in Moraine State Park.

There’s also a well-kept 18-hole Disc Golf course, with views of Lake Arthur along the way, to bring out your competitive juices.

 7. McConnells Mill State Park

Distance: 40 miles (north)

Drive Time: 40 minutes

McConnells Mill and Covered Bridge is one of the best places to visit and one of the most photographed locations in the park.
The bright red covered bridge and historic mill is just one beautiful spot in Mcconnells Mill State Park.

McConnells Mill is sometimes forgotten about, located just a few minutes away from Moraine. However, the landscape and attractions between the two parks could not be more different. 

Things to do in McConnells Mill are centered around the stunning Slippery Rock Creek gorge. A historic mill and covered bridge are star attractions of the park, but there are also multiple waterfalls, including Alpha Falls, Breakneck Falls, and Hells Hollow Falls, as well as stunning rock formations to explore. 

This park is a hidden gem for rock climbers to navigate the steep gorge walls, as well as for experienced whitewater kayakers traveling down the creek. 

This is one of our favorite state parks in western Pennsylvania for hiking because the scenes are just so beautiful, and there are 11+ miles of trails to explore.

8. Laurel Hill State Park

Distance: 63 miles (southeast)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Laurel Hill State Park is the largest of the collection of state parks in the Laurel Highlands, southeast of Pittsburgh. 

Not all of these parks have a wide range of activities or overnight facilities. Laurel Hill State Park has all of these. 

Beautiful hiking trails along Laurel Hill Creek and Laurel Hill Lake showcase the beauty of the region. Laurel Hill Lake is a great spot to spend a summer day on the beach or on a boat. 

Use Laurel Hill State Park as a hub to explore the entire northern section of the Laurel Highlands region.

9. Ohiopyle State Park

Distance: 66 miles (southeast)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

A waterfall not to be missed during your visit to Ohiopyle is Cucumber Falls.
Cucumber Falls is the tallest waterfall in Ohiopyle, but there are plenty of other beautiful falls to explore.

At the southern terminus of the Laurel Highlands region, a mecca of outdoor adventure exists in Ohiopyle State Park. The many waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park are a perfect setting for hiking and exploring. 

Millions of people flock to the region each year to experience its beauty, so you won’t be alone during your visit. Check out some of the lesser-known areas, like the Jonathan Run Trail, to avoid some of the crowds.

Those looking for a little more thrilling adventure can take up rock climbing or enjoy some of the best white water rafting on the east coast, courtesy of the Youghiogheny River. 

Ohiopyle State Park is full of beautiful natural scenes and places to explore, waterfalls to chase, and heart-pumping adventures.

10. Maurice K. Goddard State Park

Distance: 75 miles (north)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Further up interstate 79 near Sandy Lake, Maurice K. Goddard State Park, like many others on this list, also features a lake and plenty of opportunities for boating. It’s only a day-use park though, so there are no overnight facilities or camping within the park.

Unique to this park, there’s a great paved biking trail that wraps around the lake for 12 miles, providing beautiful views as you bike around the water.

 A couple of other hiking trails exist in the park too, but these are not the center point of the park. The lake is!

Enjoy the lake during the summer or via ice fishing in the winter.

11. Yellow Creek State Park

Distance: 66 miles (east)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

The lake at Yellow Creek State Park is also the centerpiece of these public lands. 

There are only a few miles of hiking trails and a few cabins to stay in overnight, but the park is conveniently located right off Highway 422 for easy access. There is a private campground located right across the highway.

Fishing, boating, and swimming are the most popular activities at Yellow Creek. 

Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the entire day by the lake. 

12. Ryerson Station State Park

Distance: 61 miles (southwest)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Tucked away in the very southwest corner of Pennsylvania, just over an hour from Pittsburgh, you’ll find Ryerson Station State Park. 

A small campground and a few cottages are tucked away for overnight stays. 

During the day, enjoy the hiking trails or swim in the on-site pool. This is a perfect park to visit if you want to enjoy a swim without stepping foot in a lake or river!

Also a destination in the winter months, Ryerson Station offers sledding and cross-country skiing when there is snow on the ground.

13. Pymatuning State Park

Distance: 100 miles (north)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Pymatuning State Park is a boaters’ paradise 100 miles north of Pittsburgh. 

Located on the border shared between Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in the state of Pennsylvania. There is plenty of room for your boat on the water, here!

On land, enjoy a round of disc golf on the 18-hole course. Take a walk on the spillway trail or explore the smaller trails on the south end near the dam. 

While boating is certainly the top activity in this park, there are also plenty of camping opportunities near the lake in two different campgrounds within the park.

14. Oil Creek State Park

Distance: 100 miles (northeast)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

The bike trail in Oil Creek State Park travels along with water and  through historic areas. Oil Creek State Park is a great state park to visit near Pittsburgh.
Taking a break while enjoying the bike trail in Oil Creek State Park

History lovers are sure to enjoy Oil Creek State Park, which celebrates the rich oil history of western Pennsylvania. 

Those history lovers are not the only ones who will enjoy Oil Creek State Park, though. This is an excellent state park near Pittsburgh to find a wide variety of activities to enjoy while spending a few days away from the city.

A 36-mile trail encircling the park with shelters for overnight stays is perfect for backpacking excursions. A paved bike trail, which is nearly 10 miles long, follows along Oil Creek. Bike the trail as an out-and-back route or use the train for the return trip. 

Oil Creek is also a popular spot to float on a kayak. Just be sure to check conditions to ensure appropriate water levels for the best float trip!

15. Clear Creek State Park

Distance: 93 miles (northeast)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Although Clear Creek State Park only covers less than 2000 acres, these acres are home to a very scenic area along the Clarion River. 

Full of beautiful hiking trails that pass through forests, patches of mountain laurel, and rhododendron tunnels, there are loops and routes that are great for day hikes of many different lengths.

The Clarion River section that passes through Clear Creek State Park is a great spot to float down the river, but the water level does get a little bit low in the summer months. 

Spring and fall are the best times to enjoy this activity.

16. Cook Forest State Park

Distance: 95 miles (northeast)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Although Cook Forest is one on the further of the state parks near Pittsburgh, there is so much land to explore along the river and in the Old Growth Forests.

Wander among the beautiful old-growth forests of western Pennsylvania. The Forrest Cathedral here in Cook Forest is a National Natural Landmark, preserved for future generations to enjoy. 

It’s only a short drive away from Clear Crete State Park, too, so you can easily visit both in one trip. A large campground has over 200 campsites to choose from, where you can stay the night or spend a few nights away from the city.

There are nearly 50 miles of hiking trails, and horseback riding is also a popular activity in Cook Forest. 

Cook Forest is a beautiful state park destination with lots of areas to explore and is a gateway for hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the adjacent state and national forests, too.

17. Canoe Creek State Park

Distance: 103 miles (east)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Don’t get Canoe Creek confused with clear Creek State Park, which we just mentioned. They are very different! 

Canoe Creek is located further east of Pittsburgh along US route 22. The land of the state park circles Canoe Lake. 

The landscape gets a little bit different in this area of the state, more in the central region, so the hiking trails offer a little bit of variety compared to other state parks near Pittsburgh. 

While there are only eight cabins available to spend the night in, the day-use areas are full of things to do.

18. Presque Isle State Park

Distance: 127 miles (north)

Drive Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Presque Isle State Park beaches are a great place to hang out in the summer.

At nearly 2 hours from the center of Pittsburgh straight north on I-79, Presque Isle State Park is the furthest on this list, but we just couldn’t leave it off.

It is certainly worth visiting, and you can combine a trip to this state park with plenty of other activities in the Erie area, too. 

Spend your summer days relaxing on Presque Isle’s sandy beaches, kayaking the inner lagoons, playing sand volleyball, or riding bicycles around the multipurpose path

Visiting Presque Isle State Park is a summer getaway, where Pittsburghers can enjoy beaches and water without having to travel to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for beach glass hidden among the sands!

State Parks near Pittsburgh with Cabins

These state parks we’ve covered have cabins within park borders:

  • Raccoon Creek State Park
  • Keystone State Park
  • Moraine State Park
  • Laurel Hill State Park
  • Ohiopyle State Park
  • Yellow Creek State Park
  • Ryerson Station State Park
  • Pymatuning State Park
  • Clear Creek State Park
  • Cook Forest State Park
  • Canoe Creek State Park

Cabins are booked on the Pennsylvania State Parks section of ReserveAmerica. Just put the name of the state park in the search box, and you’ll get a list of all the overnight options available in the park!

State Parks near Pittsburgh with Camping

The state parks on this list have on-site campgrounds where you can reserve a site.

  • Raccoon Creek State Park
  • Keystone State Park
  • Laurel Hill State Park
  • Ohiopyle State Park
  • Ryerson Station State Park
  • Pymatuning State Park
  • Oil Creek State Park (backpacking and group tenting only)
  • Clear Creek State Park
  • Cook Forest State Park

Campsites are booked on the Pennsylvania State Parks section of ReserveAmerica. Just put the name of the state park in the search box, and you’ll get a list of all the overnight options available in the park!

If you’re searching for adventure around Pittsburgh, these 18 state parks all offer something unique – and they’re all within two hours or less of the city.

Whether you want to go fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, or spend a day at the beach, there’s something for everyone at these places.

For a day or weekend getaway from Pittsburgh, why not explore one of these wonderful state parks?