Three Pennsylvania state parks have been recognized among the Top 10 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish in the U.S., according to Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing campaign. In fact, seven PA state parks landed in the Top 100, which includes park and recreation areas in 25 states.
The three parks earning Top 10 honors include Keystone State Park, Westmoreland County; Presque Isle State Park, Erie County; and Lackawanna State Park in nearby Lackawanna County. The other PA parks included in the Top 100, were Little Buffalo State Park, Perry County, Moraine State Park, Butler County, locally popular Nockamixon State Park, Bucks County and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Criteria for the top places to fish and boat included having a public body of water within an hour of a major city with good fishing opportunities and family-friendly amenities.
“We know that Pennsylvania provides fantastic fishing and boating opportunities for families,” said John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). “Now outdoor enthusiasts from across the country have voted and told us that they, too, think Pennsylvania parks have a lot to offer to families.”
1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park (Lacka-wanna is an American Indian word meaning “the meeting of two streams”) is located about 10 miles north of Scranton. The state park has picnic areas, multi-use trails (for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking), boating, fishing, over 900 acres for hunting, an outdoor swimming pool (Memorial Day – Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and camping. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, a designated sledding area and a non-monitored cleared area on the lake for ice skating.
In 1968, Pennsylvania purchased the land for a state park and developed it into a recreation area with the primary attraction being the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake. The park officially opened in June of 1972.
Lackawanna Lake is popular for canoeing and kayaking. Electric motors only are allowed. There are three boat launches, a boat rental and an ADA fishing pier near the main boat launch. Common fish are trout, muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish, bullhead, pickerel and largemouth bass. The 2.5-mile long lake has more than 7.5 miles of shoreline.
The lake is very lovely being surrounded by forested hills and farmland. Highlights of the lake are paddling under the Route 407 Bridge; paddling down Kennedy Creek Inlet, a narrow, winding hemlock-shaded ravine (there are usually several fallen trees across the water that adds to the excitement of the paddle by having to duck under or dodge around); and a paddle down the long narrow South Branch Tunkhannock Creek inlet. Also, don’t miss seeing the narrow gorge behind the dam and the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek outlet which is very scenic.
Lackawanna State Park can be reached from I-81, exit 199. Follow PA 524 west for 3 miles. It is about a 2 hour, 90 mile ride from Allentown.
5,286-acre Nockamixon State Park, a popular destination for many Lehigh Valley residents has a little of everything for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities include picnicking, swimming at a large outdoor pool, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, hunting, horseback riding; and in the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Nockamixon can become very crowded on weekends.
1,450-acre Lake Nockamixon has 4 boat launches, a 20 HP maximum and is very popular for kayaking, sailboating, wind surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Fish species include panfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye, huge carp and huge catfish.
Also, 3 places locally in New Jersey made the Top 100 list. They were Round Valley Recreation Area, Bull’s Island Recreation Area and Spruce Run Recreation Area. The overall number 1 top spot in the nation for boating and fishing went to the Everglades National Park in Florida.