Quick camping trips from Lancaster
April 30, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Where are some great places to camp within an hour or two of southeastern PA?

I'm looking for camping suggestions within a couple hours drive from Lancaster, PA. Any state parks or campgrounds you would recommend? Just looking for beautiful spots with nice hiking, and hopefully where we won't be surrounded by RVs or packed in with other campers. Have done Cunningham Falls State Park and loved it - looking for new spots. Thanks!
posted by pilibeen to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up in Chambersburg, and have fond memories of spending time at Caledonia State Park. The Appalachian Trail crosses through it, but there are shorter, easier nature trails as well. I haven't been there for many years, but I don't remember there ever being big crowds, cramped camping, or even trouble parking at the picnic areas right off the entrance at Route 30. I don't have a lot of fond memories of PA, but Caledonia is certainly one of the good ones.
posted by pupperduck at 8:41 PM on April 30, 2012

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area has some trails that lead to nice vistas from the top of the gap. I've never camped there but there are some campsites within the park as well as in the adjacent NJ State Park. The AT traverses both the Water Gap NRA as well as the NJ state park.

Another option in PA is the Pinchot Trail which is a 23 mile loop that allows backcountry camping in NE PA, about 2 hrs from Philly.

A bit further away is Pine Creek State Park in North Central PA (about 30-45 min north of Williamsport, which is about 4-5 hr from Philly). In addition to the campsites in the state park, there is a private campground, Happy Acres, that has a fair number of primitive campsites and has easy access to the trail head that takes you up into the plateau surrounding Pine Creek.

You can also find some solid hikes in some rugged terrain and backcountry camping in the Catskills which are 4 hours away from Philly in upstate NY.
posted by scalespace at 9:38 PM on April 30, 2012

You might try Greenwood State Park in Central PA, which is about 2 hours away. It's a fairly small campground (~50 sites) in the Seven Mountains region of Central PA, with a good trail network in the park and even more hiking opportunities if you expand your sites to the surrounding Rothrock State Forest.
posted by drlith at 3:16 AM on May 1, 2012

There's a Koa campground outside of Gettysburg that I stayed at overnight when coming back from Lancaster, PA... they had a very nice pancake breakfast the next day too. Quaint, smallish campground, nothing too fancy but relaxing.
posted by el_yucateco at 6:19 AM on May 1, 2012

Ricketts Glen. One of the most beautiful campgrounds in the east, with a lake and hiking trails connecting 22 waterfalls. It's about 2.5 hours from Lancaster, and totally worth the extra half hour.
posted by apparently at 7:09 AM on May 1, 2012

If you're feeling beachy there's Cape Henlopen. We camped there a few times when I was in Boy Scouts, no idea what it's like now.
posted by Rash at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2012

Both are more than two hours from Lancaster, but two of my favorite PA state parks are Black Moshannon near State College and Parker Dam near Clearfield. Both have a lot of trails within the parks and Parker Dam is also on the Quehanna Trail.
posted by maurice at 9:10 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been to each of these but haven't camped at any.

Lums Pond in Bear, DE has a few nice trails and other activities.

Elk Neck State Park in Maryland has 12 miles of trails. The park has a loop road system so the camping sites are set up on these loops. If you don't want to be near RVs, choose the more rustic loops.

Susquehanna State Park (also in Maryland) has 15 miles of trails.

Rocks State Park (MD) is a smaller park with only 3.5 miles of trails. (Rocks has a local reputation of being dangerous since there is at least one rescue a summer there. Drowning while tubing is one cause but people have also died from falls in the area of the King & Queen seat - just a word of warning)

Gifford Pinchot in PA has 20 miles of trails. It has a large camping area and a swimming area so you might face more RVs here.
posted by jaimystery at 10:50 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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