September 27, 2022 —
Last week Governor Tom Wolf announced three new state parks in Pennsylvania, which will be great additions to PA’s State Parks system.
A total investment of $45 million, these parks will create new recreational opportunities to keep up with the growing need for safe, healthy lands to recreate on. As the pandemic showed us, there is an emphasis on outdoor recreation across the globe and the creation of these new state parks is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvanian’s equitable access to the outdoors.
Each of these new state park locations met the criteria that warrants conservation and at risk for development. In addition to protecting land from development, nearly 3,500-acres of important natural and cultural resources will now be protected in perpetuity. All three parks are also within a half-hour drive of a heavily populated areas, where protected open space is most valuable and necessary.
While they’re already open to the public, all three state parks are expected to be fully operational with facilities by the end of 2026.
Susquehanna Riverlands State Park – York County
Located in Hellam Township, Susquehanna Riverlands State Park is a 1,100-acre wooded tract of land containing many natural resources. The Codorus Creek, which runs through the park, flows into the Susquehanna River and protecting it within the state park will help ensure critical water and forest resources are preserved. It also contains just under 3-miles of the Mason-Dixon Trail, which is a key connector trail that links the Appalachian Trail at Whiskey Springs in Cumberland County with Chadds Ford along the Brandywine River.
Another important aspect to the creation of this park is that is it adjacent to Hellam Hills and Wizard Ranch nature preserves. The 1,100-acre Susquehanna Riverlands State Park will, when combined with the nature preserves, protect the last large wooded area along the Susquehanna River between Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster.
Vosburg Neck State Park – Wyoming County
Located about five miles West of Tunkhannock in Wyoming County, this new 669-acre park will offer a handful of recreation opportunities for families. There will be scenic hiking, including a climb to a westerly-oriented vista, a former railroad bed for walking, shared-use trails, and significant public access for water-based recreation in the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Park goers will also have the chance to respectfully explore a 1700s cemetery and many historic buildings dating back to the 1700s and 1800s.
There are currently limited portable toilet facilities, so plan accordingly if you go visit.
Big Elk Creek State Park – Chester County
The third addition, Big Elk Creek State Park, was completed with help from the Conservation Fund, Mt. Cuba Center, and Chester County. This 1,712-acre tract features 3.5-miles of Big Elk Creek, a tributary of the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Big Elk Creek State Park is home to abundant cultural and historical resources, which used to serve as an important transportation corridor for indigenous people for thousands of years. It also held significant purpose for freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad. Packed with historical importance and recreational opportunities, Bik Elk Creek will be a great destination for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.