SWATARA STATE PARK
The 3,515-acre Swatara State Park consists of rolling fields and woodlands situated along Interstate 81 between Second and Blue mountains. One of the main focal points is the eight miles of Swatara Creek that winds through the park.
Swatara State Park was acquired with capital development funds appropriated by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. A recreation area is planned for the future and will offer canoeing, fishing, hiking, picnicking, bicycling, swimming, camping and environmental education.
The area in and around Swatara State Park is rich in American history. American Indians originally used the land along the Swatara Creek as a transportation route.
After settlement by Europeans in the 1750s, anthracite coal was discovered in the Tremont area. In the 1820s, as the demand for coal rose, a need for better transportation led to the construction of the Union Canal that connected the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers. From Lebanon, a branch canal was constructed to Pine Grove through what is now the Swatara State Park. A dam and 672-acre reservoir in the park area supported canal traffic to Pine Grove and supplied water for the Union Canal at Lebanon.
The dam was washed away in the Flood of 1862, destroying the canal and reservoir. The dam was never rebuilt because the railroad soon went into operation on the opposite bank of the Swatara Creek.
Remains of the abandoned railroad bed, five canal locks and the old dam on Old State Road can be found within the park.
The Commonwealth began acquisition of the park in 1971 and was completed in 1987 by the Department of General Services.
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Boating: non-powered boats onlySwatara Creek is a popular area for canoeing in the spring. There are several locations of easy access to the creek for put-in and take-out of boats.
Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Approved U.S. Coast Guard personal flotation devices (PFD) must be in your boat or worn at all times while boating on state park waters.
Spring trout season attracts many anglers to Trout Run, the park?s only stocked, cold water trout fishing stream. There are also a few small streams within the park that boast native populations of brook trout.
Warm water fish like smallmouth bass and panfish can be caught in the Swatara Creek. Fishing continues to improve because numerous abandoned mine drainage abatement projects, agricultural best management practices and sewage treatment efforts are improving water quality of the Swatara Creek and its tributaries. Irving?s Pond provides opportunities to catch largemouth bass and panfish.