BALD EAGLE STATE PARK
The 5,900-acre park lies in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania. Two geologic provinces create Bald Eagle's scenic beauty. The Allegheny Plateau to the north and west holds smooth, undulating uplands. The Ridge and Valley Province to the south and east contains numerous long, narrow mountain ridges separated by valleys.
The diverse geology in the park provides the backdrop for the lake, forests, fields, wetlands, and streams. Old field habitat throughout the park is undergoing natural succession. Grasses are giving way to goldenrod and asters, and gray dogwood and sumacs are being pushed out by pines and maples. These fields provide homes for bluebird, monarch butterfly, woodchuck, and cottontail rabbit, while squirrel and downy woodpecker inhabit the woodlots. A mature oak and hickory forest covers the Bald Eagle Mountain and provides homes for porcupine and turkey. The edge habitat created when old fields meet woods and wetlands, allows white-tailed deer, woodcock and red-winged blackbird to thrive.
The lake, created by the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, holds black crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch and other warm water species. The lake also attracts snapping turtles, osprey, great blue heron and the occasional bald eagle. Several intermittent streams flow into the lake providing habitat for aquatic insects, crayfish, and minnows. Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir draws most of its water from Bald Eagle Creek. The creek flows through limestone making itself and the lake alkaline. These conditions create a good warm water fishery.
The valley, creek, mountain and state park are named for the American Indian chief Woapalanne that means bald eagle. In the mid-1700s, the Lenni Lenape chief briefly dwelled at Bald Eagle's Nest, near Milesburg. The village was along the Bald Eagle Creek Path, a portion of a warrior's path from New York to the Carolinas which now is State Route 150.
As one of the few navigable tributaries of the West Branch Susquehanna River, Bald Eagle Creek became a branch of the Pennsylvania Canal in the mid-1800s. Flooding destroyed the short-lived canal system and newly developed railroads replaced the canal.
These transportation systems and abundant local resources led to the building of the nearby Curtin Ironworks. Loggers cut trees from steep-sided Bald Eagle Mountain and colliers made charcoal from the wood to feed the hungry furnace. When the demand for wood products soared in the 1800s, once plentiful pine, chestnut, oak and hickory were cleared from the valley and plateaus and the forest was replaced with farmland. The forests of Bald Eagle Mountain have regenerated and the fertile valley continues to be cultivated.
The reservoir is named in honor of Foster Joseph Sayers, a Private 1st Class in World War II. Nineteen year-old Sayers, a resident of Centre County, lost his life while displaying gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat on November 12, 1944 near Thionville, France. During an attack on hostile forces entrenched on a hill, he ran up the steep approach and set up his machine gun 20 yards from the enemy. Realizing it was necessary to attract the full attention of the dug-in Germans while his company crossed an open area and flanked the enemy, he picked up his gun, charged through withering gun fire to the very edge of the German encampment and killed 12 German soldiers with devastating close-range fire. He then engaged the enemy from the flank in a heroic attempt to distract attention from his comrades as they reached the crest of the hill. He was killed by a very heavy concentration of return fire, but his fearless assault enabled his company to sweep the hill with minimum casualties, killing or capturing every enemy solider. Sayers received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Call 888 PA-PARKS for reservations up to 11 months in advance to noon the day of arrival. Pets are not permitted in the Bald Eagle State Park campgrounds. The campgrounds open the second Friday of April and close in mid-December.
Russell P. Letterman Campground:
This modern camping area features 99 campsites, two yurts, hot showers, the park amphitheater, two volleyball courts, horseshoe pits and a sanitary dump station. It is less than one mile to the beach, marina and other park facilities.
Each campsite has a paved parking spur, picnic table and fire ring. Electric hookups of 30 amps are available at 72 sites, and 12 campsites have 50 amp hookups. Four campsites can accommodate people with disabilities.
The yurts, (round, Mongolian-style tents on wooden decks), sleep 6, have electric heat, a cooking stove, refrigerator, beds and a table and chairs. Located in the center of the campground, the yurts offer convenient accommodations for weekly rentals. Shorter stays are available during the spring and fall seasons. One yurt can accommodate people with disabilities.
Vehicles are to be parked on the hard surface only, not on the grass. Second car permits can be purchased if space permits.
Primitive Camping Area:
This rustic area can accommodate both tents and camping vehicles with 35 walk-in sites for tents and 35 sites reserved for camping vehicles. The tent camping sites are the walk-in type and are approximately 150 feet from the road. Parking spaces for tent campers are available along the road. Drinking water is available at intermittent locations along the campground road. Restrooms are rustic with a sink and running water. A sanitary dump station is available.
Marina and Boat Concession:
Three hundred and sixty-nine marina dockage slips are rented to the public on a seasonal basis. Transient slips are rented on a daily basis. Summer and winter boat and trailer storage is available. Information on the rental of these spaces is available at the park office.
The boating concession, located at the marina, rents boats and sells gasoline and does repairs.. Boats available for rent at the marina include rowboats with and without motors, canoes, runabouts, and pontoon boats. The concession is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and weekends during the months of September and October, weather permitting. Contact the park office for additional information.