Situated in Westmoreland County about an hour outside of Pittsburgh in the Laurel Highlands, Keystone State Park boasts 1,200 acres of rolling woodlands, a 72-acre man-made lake, and multiple camping areas, yurts, cabins, and cottages for visitors to enjoy. An all-around outdoors wonderland, Keystone is a popular venue for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. There is no admission fee whatsoever.
The History of Keystone State Park
The Keystone Coal and Coke Company purchased the land in 1909 in order to build a lake to use as a water source. Coke is needed to make steel. In coke production, coal is burned and then must be extinguished quickly, necessitating large amounts of water. The company built a structure there for executives to use as a hunting lodge. By 1945, the local coal veins had run dry. The land, lake, and lodge was then purchased by the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks, who named it Keystone State Park, after the company from which it had come.
Accommodations at the Park
Keystone State Park offers over one hundred tent and trailer camping spaces, as well as three cottages, eleven cabins, and two Mongolian yurts. One of each type of dwelling is fully accessible to the handicapped in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Firewood, ice, and assorted snack delivery can be arranged to all overnight facilities by calling 724-572-1156. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-888-PA-Parks. The contact email for this park is firstname.lastname@example.org for any further questions about accommodations.
There are five hiking trails snaking throughout Keystone State Park. Only the Lakeside trail is intended for bicycles. The other four trails are intended for foot traffic only, whether it be hiking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. Out of the five trails, four are listed as easy- a rare find in mountainous western Pennsylvania. Avid walkers can view a plethora of wildlife and flora scattered throughout the park in all seasons. As hunting is indeed permitted in the correct time-frames, be sure to wear a blaze orange vest if you plan to sightsee during hunting seasons.
The man-made lake sees visitors in all seasons and for a variety of activities. For the fisherman, both warm and cold-water fish varieties are found, including: northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and carp. Trout are stocked at regular intervals throughout the year. In winter, ice fishing is permitted. However, it is important to note that the ice thickness is not monitored and it is the guest’s responsibility to ensure their own safety. There is an ADA-accessible fishing site located near the spillway.
For pleasure boaters, Keystone Lake is a serene body of water to navigate. Only hand-powered vessels or those outfitted with electrical engines are permitted on the lake. Gas and diesel engines are strictly prohibited from this delicate ecosystem. All boats must of course bear the proper licensing stickers and carry sufficient life vests for the passengers aboard.
For swimmers and sunbathers, a sand beach is open from late May until the middle of September with daily hours of eight in the morning until seven in the evening. No lifeguards are stationed. No food, beverages, or pets are permitted on the beach to ensure cleanliness and safety for all guests.
Keystone State Park also offers two picnicking pavilions. You may choose to reserve one up to eleven months in advance, or an empty pavilion can be used on a first-come, first-served basis.
In the winter, ice skating and sledding are also popular. Be aware that those undertaking these activities do so at their own risk. The park does provide an updated weather report located online at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/winter/winterb.aspx?park=6205, which will assist you in your winter-sports ventures and planning.
The park also offers a year-round Environmental Education and Interpretation series. The hunting lodge has been transformed into the ADA-accessible James. A Kell Visitors Center which focuses of education the public about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history of the park. Specialized tours for scout groups or children’s tours are also periodically arranged. More information on these educational excursions can be found by dialing 724-668-2566.
For additional information on any of the outstanding resources available at Keystone State Park, the contact address is:
Keystone State Park
1150 Keystone Park Road
Derry, PA 15627-3679
Manager: Kris Baker