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A Pennsylvania Recreational Guide for
Moraine State Park
The gently rolling hills, lush forests and sparkling waters disguise a land that has endured the effects of continental glaciers and massive mineral extraction.
Each year over one million boaters, hikers, bikers and swimmers visit the 16,725-acre park, yet never realize that many people helped restore the park from prior coal mining and oil and gas drilling practices. Today, the park is an outstanding example of environmental engineering achievement.
Moraine State Park is in northwestern Pennsylvania near the crossroads of I–79
and I–80. It 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 off of PA 422.
To access the North Shore from PA 422 West, 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.
INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted. 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 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends during the summer.
The Davis Hollow Marina office on the North Shore provides marina applications, launch permits and general park information. It is open from April 15 to October 30.
Make online reservations at: www.visitPAparks.com or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, for state park information and reservations.
TOP 10 ACTIVITIES TO DO AT MORAINE
1. Bike the paved 7-mile trail from the Bicycle Rental to the Davis Hollow Marina.
2. Spend the night in a lakefront cabin.
3. Take the Trail of Geology driving tour and climb to the top of the Jacksville Esker Glacial Deposit just north of the park.
4. Rent a pontoon boat, kayak, or canoe and explore the 3,225-acre lake.
5. Try your hand at the challenging 18-hole disc golf course.
6. Visit the waterfowl observation deck for a chance to see ducks, loons, bald eagles, osprey and great blue herons.
7. Hike the Glacier Ridge Trail for spectacular scenic overlooks.
8. Have a picnic with a view at the Lakeside Picnic Area in the South Shore.
9. Cool off and swim at Lakeview Beach.
10. Glide along the Sunken Garden Trail on cross-country skis when the snow falls.
LAKE ARTHUR WILDLIFE
Lake Arthur provides over forty-two miles of scenic shoreline. Its tributaries include Muddy Creek, Big Run, Swamp Run, Bear Run and over 75 intermittent streams. Ranging from an average depth of 11 feet to about 36 feet deep near the dam, the shallow waters of Lake Arthur are home to a variety of warm-water fish. Frogs, newts, turtles and water snakes prowl the edges of the lake. Great blue herons, green herons and belted kingfishers prey on minnows and fish fry. In the early spring, common loons stop at the lake on their migration north.
Osprey may be seen flying over Lake Arthur. Once extirpated from Western Pennsylvania, these “fish hawks” have been reintroduced to Moraine through a hacking program begun in 1993. The first osprey pair to nest along Lake Arthur as a result of this effort raised three young in 1996. Due to a successful reintroduction program statewide, the osprey population has recovered and is continuing to expand. Bald eagles are also actively nesting in the park.
A waterfowl observation deck is along Park Road.
SPEND THE DAY
PICNICKING: Picnic tables, charcoal grills and restrooms are located throughout the day use areas and marinas. Some facilities are ADA accessible. Seven picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. All day use areas are open from sunrise to sunset.
Name People Location
1 Pleasant View 80 Pleasant Valley
2 Pleasant Grove 80 Pleasant Valley
3 Windy Knob 80 Pleasant Valley
4 Lakeview Pines 100 Lakeview Beach
5 Lakeview 100 Lakeview Beach
6 Osprey 60 McDanels Boat Launch
7 MPF Pavilion 144 McDanels Boat Launch
SWIMMING: Swimming is permitted at two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. The Pleasant Valley Beach on the South Shore is a 1,200-foot turf and sand beach and has a paved path into the water. A sand volleyball court and playground are on the west side of the beach. Lakeview Beach on the North Shore is a 550-foot sand beach.
The beaches are open daily from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day unless otherwise posted. The regular hours are sunrise to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Showers, changing facilities and snack bars are available at both beaches. To keep these areas clean and safe, pets are prohibited in the beach areas.
DISC GOLFING: An 18-hole disc golf course is in the Lakeview Day Use Area. For more information contact the Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society. www.pfds.org
BOATING: up to 20 hp motors permitted
The 3,225-acre Lake Arthur has 10 public boat launches. Sailing conditions are ideal, and races, regattas and sailing instruction classes are held throughout the summer. Boating is prohibited in the Game Propagation area and near the dam.
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.
Crescent Bay Boat Rental: Pontoon boats, motorboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and sailboats are available at this rental concession. Motorboat fuel, ice and fishing bait are also available for purchase.
Davis Hollow Marina: The marina has motorboat fuel, a sanitary dumping station for boats and seasonal mooring for almost 700 vessels. Slips are designated for: 313 sailboats, catamarans and motorboats; 232 pontoon boats; 36 canoe rack spaces; 38 offshore mooring; and 80 dry mooring. A limited number of first-come, first-served transient spaces are available for short term stays. Outdoor winter storage for boats is also available in the park. Contact the marina office in advance to make sure space is available.
Watts Bay Marina: This area provides dry mooring for sailboats and catamarans only. The marina can accommodate 138 boats in numbered parking spaces complete with tie-downs, and 36 small sailboats and sailboards in rack spaces. An additional 20 numbered parking spaces are available near or adjacent to the boat launch.
WINDSURFING: Barber Point, near Lakeview Beach, is popular for windsurfing due to stronger winds and sparse boat traffic. A state park launching permit is required for wind surfboards. All boating regulations apply to wind surfboards.
FISHING: The 3,225-acre Lake Arthur is a warm-water fishery. Common species are northern pike, largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie and bluegill. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish and hybrid striped bass. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply.
Volunteers, park employees and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission employees have installed fish habitat structures throughout the lake. A map showing fish habitat project locations, water depths and specific features of the lake is available at the park office, marina office and the gift shop at McDanels Boat Launch.
ADA accessible fishing piers are at Bear Run Boat Launch, Park Road Boat Launch and McDanels Boat Launch, which also are great spots for children to fish.
Fishing is Prohibited in These Areas:
• From boat docks, launching or mooring areas, or within 100 feet of these areas.
• Anywhere in the marina cove at Davis Hollow and the Crescent Bay Marina docks.
• In the Game Propagation Area.
• Off of the bridges.
• Within 100 feet of the beaches.
• Where posted no fishing.
HUNTING AND FIREARMS
About 13,600 acres of Moraine State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are waterfowl, deer, turkey, grouse, bear, rabbit, pheasant and squirrel. No hunting areas are posted.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulatons apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are in the park.
MOUNTAIN BIKING: 6 miles of trails
A loop trail for mountain bikes is on the North Shore. Trailheads are located off of Mt. Union Road and Alexander Ridge Road.
• The trail can be hazardous.
• Some slopes are steep and there are rough surfaces and slippery areas.
• This technical trail is for experienced off-road riders in good physical condition who have equipment for off-road riding.
• Bikers ride bike trails at their own risk.
BIKING: 7 miles
The paved bicycle trail winds near the shoreline between Davis Hollow and the Bike Rental Building in the northwest corner of the park. The trail can be accessed at many places in the Lakeview Beach and Watts Bay Marina areas.
• This trail is not a loop.
• The trail has several grades and curves.
• Please exercise caution and be considerate of other riders and walkers when using this trail.
HORSEBACK RIDING: 20 miles of trails
Equestrian trails are in the southwest and east sides of the park. Riding is limited to designated trails and roadsides throughout the park.
HIKING: 28 miles of trails
The hiking trails of Moraine State Park wander through forests and grassy areas, along lake edges and past wetlands. For your safety and to protect the resource, please stay on the trails.
For the safety of all park visitors, please keep dogs leashed and under physical control at all times.
Tell us about your hike at: ExplorePAtrails.com
Sunken Garden Trail: 2.4 or 3.6 miles, easiest hiking, pink blazes
For an enjoyable and scenic hike that isclose to the park office, Sunken Garden Trail offers views of the lake shoreline and travels through a variety of habitats and terrains. Hikers can choose either a 1.9-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Both sections of trail include moderate inclines. The longer section offers slightly more rugged terrain.
When conditions permit, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter. Access the trail near the Pleasant Valley Boat Launch parking lot. From the park office travel toward the Pleasant Valley Marina and take the first right turn.
Hilltop Trail: 1 or 1.4 miles, more difficult hiking, green blazes
This trail passes through different stages of forest regeneration, by cavity-nesting bird boxes and the remains of a springhouse. Hikers can choose a 1.1-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. The trail includes flat grassy areas and gradual inclines that lead to fields high above the highway and lake. Access to this trail is adjacent to the entrance of Bear Run Boat Launch.
Pleasant Valley Trail: 1.9 miles, easiest hiking, yellow blazes
This lovely trail offers an easy hike through the hills and valleys of the South Shore, passing through wooded and open grassy areas. The trail provides access to both the Windy Knob and Bear Run picnic areas, crosses the Hilltop Trail and then intersects with Sunken Garden Trail. Making a left on the Sunken Garden Trail will return you to the trailhead. When conditions permit, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in winter. Access to this trail is directly across Pleasant Valley Road from the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area.
Five Points Trail: 1.3 miles, easiest hiking, light green blazes
This loop trail meanders through forests and by a small pond. Access to the trail is near Lakeview Beach and the cabin colony.
Glacier Ridge Trail: 14.8 miles, most difficult hiking, blue blazes
Designated as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, this trail extends 14 miles from the western end of Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center. The trail winds through forests, crosses streams and offers scenic views of Lake Arthur. Glacier Ridge Trail can be accessed at PA 528, Mount Union Road (TR 10050), Bike Rental Building and McDanels Launch Area. The Link Road Overnight Shelter is available to backpackers by reservation only. Contact the park office for backpacking information.
Wyggeston Trail: 1.5 to 4.6 miles, most difficult hiking, orange blazes
For the more adventurous, 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 with diverse natural plant communities and by an old house foundation, stone fences and a historic oil pump house. The 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. The trail can be accessed at the northern end from Christley Road just west of PA 528 and at the southern end from Park Road.
STAY THE NIGHT
ORGANIZED GROUP CAMPING: There are two tent camping areas available for organized groups: Muskrat Cove and Five Points. These rustic camps have picnic tables, cooking grills and water, but no showers. Advance reservations are required.
BACKPACKING: The Link Road Overnight Shelter on the North Country National Scenic Trail is available to backpackers by reservation only at www.visitPAparks.com.
CAMPING: Camping is available at nearby private campgrounds. Information on nearby campgrounds is available at the park office.
CABINS: 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 during the summer season. Renters must provide their own linens, towels, cookware and tableware. Play equipment for children is in a central area. Cabin 11 is ADA accessible.
ENJOY THE WINTER
Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure there is solid ice at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
ICE FISHING: Common species caught are largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and northern pike. Conditions permitting, ice fishing is permitted in the Game Propagation Area from January 15 through March 15.
ICE SKATING: The cove by the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area is popular for ice skating.
ICEBOATING: Iceboats must display a state park launch permit.
SLEDDING: A very popular sledding area is near the Pleasant View Picnic Area on the South Shore.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Pleasant Valley and Sunken Garden trails are groomed when snow conditions permit. The trails are blazed with yellow and pink and are suitable for all skill levels.
SNOWMOBILING: Conditions permitting, 26 miles of trails in the north and west portions of the park can be snowmobiled. There must be at least six inches of snow on the paved bike trail. Studded track snowmobiles are prohibited on the paved bike trail. Please refer to bulletin boards for additional rules and regulations for snowmobiling.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION
Moraine State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education, interpretive and recreational programs. Through hands-on educational activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
Programs are offered year-round. Teacher workshops and educational programs for students are available. Please contact the park office or go to www.visitPAparks.com for more information.
Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at McDanels Boat Launch. These tours are provided through the Moraine Preservation Fund.
At least four continental glaciers reached their greatest extent just north of Moraine State Park. These huge ice sheets, sometimes over a mile thick, transported stones and soil in, within, beneath and in front of them, reshaping the land. When the glaciers retreated, they left behind the accumulated debris, which is called a moraine. Deposits of gravel, sand and clay found throughout the area are evidence of the glaciers and their moraines.
During one or more of the ice advances, a continental glacier dammed area creeks making three glacial lakes. To the north, north flowing Slippery Rock Creek filled giant Lake Edmund. To the southeast, extinct McConnells Run filled tiny Lake Prouty. In the middle, north flowing Muddy Creek filled the medium-sized Lake Watts.
The glacier dammed Lake Prouty on the edge of the drainage divide. Eventually Lake Prouty spilled over and rushed to the south, initiating the erosion Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Lakes Watts and Edmund drained into the gorge, eroding it deeper and making Slippery Rock Creek flow south. Areas of the 400-foot deep Slippery Rock Gorge may be seen at nearby McConnells Mill State Park.
The glacier created a landscape of rolling hills topped with hardwood trees and swamps in the valley bottoms.
Visit the park website for the Trail of Geology Guide for Moraine State Park.
American Indians found the land excellent for hunting grounds. In the 1800s, farmers cleared the forests and drained the swamps. 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. 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 wells were drilled to extract oil and gas. When the wells dried up, they were abandoned and left unsealed.
The Western Allegheny Railroad was built to transport these extracted minerals to Pittsburgh. The railroad ran the full length of the Muddy Creek Valley and through the Village of Isle, where the PA 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 abandoned 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 an amateur geologist and naturalist. On a trip to the Muddy Creek Valley, he noticed that the hills had a unique 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 Pennsylvania departments of Forests and Waters, and Mines and Mineral Industries helped to reclaim the abused land. Workers sealed deep mines, back-filled and graded strip mines, plugged 422 gas and oil wells, fertilized the soil, and planted thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and clovers.
The dam was completed by November of 1968 and in 1970 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Davis Hollow Cabin: Construction began before the American Revolution on this cabin of hand-hewn logs and hand-carved stone. Located behind the Davis Hollow Marina, it was used as a summer home by Mrs. Katherine Davis and her sister Miss Eleanor Holt. A fine example of pioneer construction, there is a safe built within a stone wall, an authentic wagon wheel chandelier and walls made of wormy American chestnut.
Historic Oil Exhibit: An operating central power is tucked in the woods just beyond Muskrat Cove where a stream crosses under the service road. Built at the turn of the century, it contains a Bessemer engine, pumping jacks and other equipment used during the early days of the oil industry. The engine is operated several times a year. A book on the Muddy Creek Oil Field is for sale at the park office.
The Moraine Preservation Fund (MPF) and the Moraine, McConnells Mill, Jennings Commission (3MJC) are volunteer organizations that support Moraine State Park. These organizations help develop projects like the Butterfly Trail, osprey and barn owl reintroduction programs and the historic oil exhibit. MPF has a gift shop and offers interpretive boat tours based out of McDanels Boat Launch. Programs on the boat teach about the wildlife of Moraine and the development of Lake Arthur.
The pontoon boat operates on a regular schedule throughout the summer. The pontoon boat is open to the public and is also available for charters for a fee. For more information on the MPF call 724-368-9185. For more information on the 3MJC contact the park office.
To learn more about the many types of volunteer activities at the park, contact the park office.
ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
ADA accessible flush toilet restrooms are located in the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area, Pleasant Valley Beach, Pleasant View Picnic Area, Bear Run Boat Launch, McDanels Boat Launch, Park Road Boat Launch, 528 Boat Launch, Lakeview Beach Area and the Davis Hollow and Watts Bay marinas.
This symbol indicates facilities and activities that are accessible. This publication text is available in alternative formats.
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
Protect and Preserve Our Parks
Please make your visit safe and enjoyable. Obey all posted rules and regulations and respect fellow visitors and the resources of the park.
• Be prepared and bring the proper equipment. Natural areas may possess hazards. Your personal safety and that of your family are your responsibility.
• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
• Firewood Advisory: Firewood may contain non-native insects and plant diseases. Bringing firewood into the park from other areas may accidentally spread pest insects and diseases that threaten park resources and the health of our forests. Campers should use local firewood. Do not take wood home and do not leave firewood - Burn It!
• There are recycling centers at the Cabin Area and Davis Hollow Marina parking lot for park-generated material only.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE PARKS MISSION
The primary purpose of Pennsylvania state parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. In meeting these purposes, the conservation of the natural, scenic, aesthetic, and historical values of parks should be given first consideration. Stewardship responsibilities should be carried out in a way that protects the natural outdoor experience for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Butler County Tourist Promotion Agency. www.visitbutlercounty.com
WASHINGTON’S TRAIL: This auto route retraces the approximate path of George Washington’s trip of 1753-1754 from Virginia to Fort LeBoeuf (present day Waterford, Pa). This trip marked the beginning of the French and Indian War. The route is marked by signs and follows routes PA 422 and PA 528 which pass through the park.
IN AN EMERGENCY
Contact a park employee or dial 911.
Directions to the nearest hospital are posted on bulletin boards and at the park office.
Butler Memorial Hospital
One Hospital Way
Butler, PA 16001
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Moraine State Park
225 Pleasant Valley Road
Portersville, PA 16051-9650
An Equal Opportunity Employer
Information and Reservations
Make online reservations at: www.visitPAparks.com or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, for state park information and reservations.
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