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Pennsylvania State Parks

USA Parks
Pittsburgh Region
Moraine State Park
Moraine State Park Poison Mushrooms © Jeff Hudak
Picture taken on 08/17/10 view along the bike trail.
Moraine State Park Regatta 2012 © Jeff Hudak
Some of this years Puddle Duck entries
225 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Portersville, Pennsylvania   16051

Phone: 724-368-8811
Toll Free: 888-727-2757
Reservations: 888-727-2757
Moraine State Park features 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, an outstanding warm water fishery that is also great for sailing and boating. Visitors sometimes see osprey that were reintroduced to the park. Of special interest is the Frank Preston Conservation Area and a 7-mile paved bike trail that winds around the north shore of the lake.

The park is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. Park information, launch permits, cabin information and assistance can be obtained at the park office near the entrance to the South Shore. It is open year round Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and weekends during the summer.

A secondary office at the Davis Hollow Marina on the North Shore can provide marina applications and general park information. It is open 24 hours a day April 15 through October 30th.

The gently rolling hills, lush forests and sparkling waters disguise a land that has endured the effects of continental glaciers and massive mineral extraction. Thousands of people visit the 3,225-acre Lake Arthur yet never realize that many people helped restore the park from prior coal mining and oil drilling practices. Today, the park is an outstanding example of environmental engineering achievement.
Nature of the Area
Lake Arthur provides over forty miles of scenic shoreline. Its tributaries include Muddy Run, Big Run, Swamp Run, Bear Run and over 75 intermittent streams. Ranging from an average depth of 12 feet to about 36 feet deep near the dam, the shallow waters are home to a variety of warm water fish. Frogs, newts, turtles and water snakes prowl the edges of the lake. Avian anglers like the tall great blue heron, its short cousin the green-backed heron and the small belted kingfisher prey on minnows and fish fry, too small to be caught by human anglers. In the early spring, common loons stop at the lake on their migration to the far north.

Osprey may be seen flying over Lake Arthur. Once extirpated from Western Pennsylvania, these "fish hawks" have been reintroduced to Moraine through a four-year hacking program begun in 1993. The first osprey pair to nest along Lake Arthur as a result of the reintroduction effort raised three young in 1996.
History of the Area
Glacial History:

A moraine is soil, rocks and debris that accumulates at the edges and underneath a glacier. Moraine State Park received its name because at least four continental glaciers have reached their greatest extent near the park, leaving their signatures on the landscape.

During the third great ice advance about 140,000 years ago, a continental glacier dammed area creeks making three glacial lakes. To the north, Slippery Rock Creek filled giant Lake Edmund. To the southeast, extinct McConnell's Run filled tiny Lake Prouty. In the middle, Muddy Creek filled the medium-sized Lake Watts.

Before the glacier dam, Slippery Rock and Muddy creeks flowed north while extinct McConnells Run flowed south. The glacier dammed Lake Prouty on the edge of the drainage divide. Eventually Lake Prouty spilled over and rushed to the south, carving Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Lakes Watts and Edmund drained into the gorge, digging it deeper and making Slippery Rock and Muddy creeks flow south. Areas of the Slippery Rock Gorge may be seen at nearby McConnell's Mill State Park.

The glacier created a landscape of rolling hills topped with hardwood trees and swamps in the valley bottoms. Moraines containing gravel, sand and clay were draped upon the landscape and silt was left on the extinct lake bottoms.

Human History:

American Indians found the land to be excellent hunting grounds. In the 1800s, settlers cleared the forests and drained the swamps to make farm fields. Sand and gravel deposited by the glaciers were mined and sold. Limestone and clay were mined to make ceramics. Local shale was used to make bricks. Deeper underground, the discovery of bituminous coal ushered in a boom time for the region. Seven coal beds were deep-mined and later the land was strip-mined.

In the late 1800s, gas wells were drilled to extract oil and gas. When the wells dried up, they were abandoned and left unsealed.

The Western Allegheny Railroad transported a majority of these extracted minerals to Pittsburgh. The railroad ran the full length of Muddy Creek Valley and through the Village of Isle, where the Route 528 bridge is today. Abandoned in 1939, the old railroad grade is still visible west of the dam and in the Muddy Creek finger of Lake Arthur.

Much of the park area lost its topsoil and many streams were polluted with acid mine drainage. The land remained largely unoccupied.

In 1926, Frank W. Preston of England moved to the town of Meridian and opened a glass research lab. A leader in glass research, Dr. Preston was also a geologist and naturalist. On a trip to the Muddy Creek Valley, he noticed how the hills changed their shape and attributed it to the glacial periods. Preston studied the land for decades and named many of the landforms after Edmund Watts Arthur, a prominent Pittsburgh attorney and naturalist. With the support of friends, Preston formed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to purchase land to recreate the glacial landscape and preserve open space. Muddy Creek was dammed to create modern Lake Arthur as a smaller version of glacial Lake Watts.

The former Department of Forests and Waters and the former Pennsylvania Department of Mines and Mineral Industries combined forces to reclaim the abused land. Deep mines were sealed, strip mines were back-filled and graded, and 422 gas and oil wells were plugged. Soil was treated with fertilizer, thousands of trees, and grasses and clovers were planted to restore the land.

By November of 1968, the dam was complete and two years later Lake Arthur reached its full level. Moraine State Park was dedicated on May 23, 1970.

Lake Arthur reminds us that our use of natural resources to meet human needs requires decisions that affect the quality of the environment.
Eleven modern cabins are available for rent year round. These electrically heated cabins sleep six people and have two bedrooms, bathroom with shower, kitchen, dining/living area and a dock on Lake Arthur. Renters must provide their own linens, towels, cookware and tableware. Play equipment for children is in a central area.
A paved, seven-mile bicycle trail winds near the shoreline between the Marina Restaurant and the Bike Rental Building in the northwest corner of the park. This trail is not a loop. The trail can be accessed at many places in the Lakeview Beach and Watts Bay Marina areas.

A bicycle rental and vending area is located at the beginning of the bike trail on the upper northwest corner of the north shore. Bicycles for the whole family may be rented every day between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, and weekends in April, May, September and October. Weather permitting, vending machines and restrooms are available in the Bike Rental Building and Watts Bay areas.

There is a six-mile loop trail for mountain bikes on the North Shore. Trailheads are located off of Mt. Union Road and Alexander Ridge Road.

Organized Group Tenting:

There are two camping areas available for organized groups, Muskrat Cove and Five Points camps. These primitive camps have picnic tables, cooking grills and water wells, but no showers. Advance reservations are required.
Nearby Accommodations
Pine Hills Inn - VOLANT, PA
BBs / Inns
A great place to get away from it all. Come rock your stress away or visit the many shops in Volant and the Grove City Prime Outlets. Built in 1879 by the Amish, the Inn sets in the Amish countryside between New Wilmington and Volant, PA.
10.5 miles from park*
Swimming is permitted at two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. The Pleasant Valley Day Beach on the South Shore is a 1,200-foot turf and sand beach. Lakeview Beach on the North Shore is a 550-foot sand beach. Showers, changing facilities and food concessions are available at both beaches. To keep these areas clean and safe, pets are not allowed in the beaches.
Boating: up to 20 hp motors permittedNo boating is permitted in the Game Propagation Area. Motorboats must display a boat registration from any state. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

There are 10 boat-launching areas around Lake Arthur. Sailing is especially popular. Races and regattas for sailboats are held throughout the summer. At the Crescent Bay Area, sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, motorboats and pontoon boats may be rented in the summer, and paddle boats and canoes are available in the off-season. Canoes and paddleboats may be rented at the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area on the South Shore only on weekends. These boat launches are accessible: Bear Run, 528, McDanel's and Davis Hollow public launch.


Hilltop Trail: 1.1 or 3 miles, moderate hiking, green blazesAccess to this trail is adjacent to the entrance of Bear Run Boat Launch. You can hike this trail on a 1.1-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Trail conditions range from flat grassy areas to rocky, steeper sections. The trail passes through different stages of forest regeneration and by bluebird boxes and the remains of a spring house.

Sunken Garden Trail: 1.9 or 3 miles, moderate hiking, pink blazesAccess to the trail can be found by making the first right off of Pleasant Valley Road adjacent to Pleasant Valley Boat Launch. This trail will take you on either a 1.9 mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Both sections of trail are mowed and include moderate inclines. The longer section offers slightly more rugged terrain. The trail offers views of Lake Arthur from the short loop, white pine stands and a small pond on the long loop, and lake edge wetlands. This trail is a cross-country ski trail in the winter.

Pleasant Valley Trail: 2.6 miles, easy hiking, yellow blazesAccess to this trail is directly across Pleasant Valley Road from the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area. This mowed trail offers an easy hike through the hills and valleys of the South Shore. The trail provides access to both the Windy Knob and Bear Run picnic areas, crosses the Hilltop Trail, and ends at the intersection with Sunken Garden Trail. Making a left on the Sunken Garden Trail will return you to the trailhead. The trail passes through wooded and open grassy areas and is a cross-country ski trail.

Wyggeston Trail: 1.5 to 4.5 miles, moderate to difficult hiking, orange blazesThe northern end of the trail can be accessed from Christley Road just west of Route 528 and the southern terminus from Old Route 422. This trail can be hiked either as a 1.5-mile loop, or a 3-mile or 4.5-mile trail that will not return you to your point of origin. This trail has rougher, rockier terrain and is a more challenging hike than the other trails on the South Shore. The extra effort is well worth it because the trail takes you into a remote, undeveloped section of the park and by an old house foundation, stone fences and a historic oil pump house.

Glacier Ridge Trail: 14 miles, difficult hiking, blue blazesThis trail winds through forests, crosses streams and offers some views of the Lake Arthur. Designated as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, this trail extends 14 miles from the western end of the Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center. The trail can be accessed at many points, such as PA Route 528 (two connector trails blazed in yellow), Mount Union Road (Twp. Route 10050), Bike Rental Building and McDanel's Launch Area.

Five Points Trail: 1.5 mile, easy hiking, light green blazesThis loop trail is located near Lakeview Beach and the cabin colony. The trail meanders though forests and by a small pond.
Nature Programs
Moraine State Park offers a wide variety of interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Programs are offered in the summer season. For more detailed information contact the park office. Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at McDanel's Boat Launch.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews

Area Campgrounds
Harts Content Campground
496 Glendale Road
Beaver Falls, PA
Bear Run Campground
184 Badger Hill Road
Portersville, PA
Nautical Mile Marina
215 Butler Road
Templeton, PA
Buttercup Woodlands Campground
854 Evans City Road
Renfrew, PA
Indian Brave Campground
Route 19 North
Harmony, PA
Rose Point Park Campground
314 Rose Point Road
New Castle, PA
Cooper's Lake Campground
205 Corrie Road
Slippery Rock, PA
Slippery Rock Campground Association
1150 West Park Road
Slippery Rock, PA
Area Fishing Related Businesses
O Donnell's Sports Supplies
1765 Perry Hwy
Portersville, PA
(724) 368-3418
Moraine Fishing & Camping Ctr
2191 Prospect Rd
Prospect, PA
(724) 865-9318
Rogers' Rifle Rod & Reel
494 Mount Union Rd
Portersville, PA
(724) 368-8127
Castlewood Rod & Gun Club
2964 Shaffer Rd
Ellwood City, PA
(724) 924-9010
Area Cabins and Lodges
Bear Run Campground
184 Badger Hill Rd
Portersville, PA
(724) 368-3564
Locust Brook Lodge
179 Eagle Mill Rd
Butler, PA
(724) 283-8453

Located in northwestern Pennsylvania near the crossroads of I-79 and I-80, Moraine State Park is bisected by PA 422 running east/west and PA 528 running north/south. To access the South Shore Recreation Area, take the South Shore Exit of PA 422. To access the North Shore from PA 422 East, take the North Shore Exit. There is no access to the North Shore from PA 422 headed east from I-79, so, take the South Shore Exit, get onto PA 422 West and take the North Shore Exit.


Pennsylvania State Parks