keystone state park cover photo
Pennsylvania State Parks

Trip Report: Keystone State Park in Pennsylvania

on
October 15, 2021
Please note that some of our links are affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through & make a purchase. Happy clicking!

Keystone State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania offers hiking, fishing, biking, kayaking, and swimming opportunities for day trippers or weekend campers.

History and Location

Keystone State Park is located in Derry, Pennsylvania, about an hour east of Pittsburgh.

In the early 1900s, Keystone Lake provided the water flow for the Keystone Coal and Coke Company. They were in the business of washing and cooling coke and coal for steel-making activities in the area (Go Steelers!).

keystone lake at keystone state park

The company’s leadership also used the lake for recreation, and even went so far as to build a small lodge that is now the James A. Kell Visitor’s Center.  

james a. kell visitors center keystone state park

The area around and including Keystone Lake became a state park in 1945.

When the mine finally closed in the early 1950s, it left behind some footprints in the park – like a sealed mine entrance and some awful mine drainage (we’ll get to that later!). 

Campground

Keystone State Park has two campgrounds for RVs and tents, plus 11 modern camping cabins, 3 camping cottages, and 2 yurts. 

keystone state park campground all

The most scenic RV spots looking out over the lake are in Lakeside Campground, but WOMP WOMP no pets are allowed!

We were at site #55 in the pet-friendly Hillside Campground. 

hillside campground at keystone state park

Site #55 is not shaded, but it is surrounded by trees and greenery for some privacy.  The other outer loop sites are similar. The sites on the inner loop around the bend, however, seem a little tight. 

keystone state park site 55 coming around bend
keystone state park site 55

Site #55 is about three spots from the bath house, which sits up on a small hill. Here’s what you can see of it from our spot: 

bath house at keystone state park

The bath house is quite clean, and the showers are thankfully very hot with NO timer buttons!

Who needs timer buttons on hot showers? NO ONE EVERRR. 

 

PRO TIP for the Campground

Drainage is not optimal in the campground. If you have an older, thicker outside rug to take on this RV trip, do it! Our site had some cinders, which were easily tracked inside – so the rug helped with that, too. 

Trails

Keystone State Park only has about 8 miles of hiking spread over 6 trails, making it easy to cover most, if not all, of the park in one day.

keystone state park hiking trail map unmarked
keystone state park trailhead with hazel

To make a 5- to 6-mile loop from Hillside Campground, you can take Stone Lodge Road and walk across the end of the lake.

keystone state park off stone lodge road
keystone state park fall lake

After following Lakeside Trail to the large parking lots, you loop David Run Trail with McCune Run Trail.

You’ll end up on the other side of the lake back onto Lakeside Trail. 

footbridge at keystone state park

Do the quick 1/4 mile Pine Trail loop before continuing on Lakeside to hit a loop of Stone Lodge Trail. 

Why do I say “A” loop and not a specific loop? 

Mainly because the loop we completed looked like this:

keystone park trail map marked

Right now you’re asking yourself, WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED ON STONE LODGE TRAIL? 

And I’m answering, WOW, DID WE TAKE SOME WRONG TURNS.

When we entered the trail and I saw the loop options, I snapped a photo of the trailhead map just to keep it straight.

stone lodge trail at keystone state park

Fair warning! There are a lot of rogue trails that branch off and meet back up, and before you know it- BAM! Things are looking familiar, and you’ve looped the loop all wrong. 

We probably only retraced about half a mile in the end, so no big deal! We had a good time anyway.

franklin at keystone state park

If you get back to the campground and still have some energy, take a quick walk down to the Abandoned Mine Drainage Trail to see the wetland treatment system in action. 

If you’ve ever seen what looks really rusty water in a rusty waterbed, you’ve probably seen mine drainage. 

abandoned mine drainage

When that water is filtered through a series of limestone ponds, it eventually flows clear and clean enough to return to a creek or other waterway. 

Here’s what I captured from end to end of the system at Keystone State Park.

keystone state park amd system 1
keystone state park amd system 2
keystone state park amd system 3
keystone state park amd system 4
keystone state park amd system 4.5

The first few ponds were so still, but I saw several large frogs jumping around in the last few. 

keystone state park amd system 5

The water flows through all of the areas before being returned to the creek. 

keystone state park amd system 6

While I’m proud of the industrial success the Pittsburgh area has had, it’s come at a serious environmental cost. 

I’m glad to see these remediation efforts happening in the park. 

clean creek at keystone state park

Wildlife, Fauna, and Fungi

We visited Keystone State Park on an early fall weekend, and it was quite wet.

As for wildlife, we saw fish and frogs in the lake and creek, plus chipmunks, squirrels, and many different bugs and birds (and an eagle, we think!). 

slender meadow katydid
no mow in keystone state park

The leaves were just starting to change colors, and because of the damp weather, the mushrooms were in full effect!

keystone state park red mushroom
keystone state park sporey mushroom
keystone state park orangey fungi
keystone state park mushroom collective
keystone state park mushroom whites
keystone state park mushroom yellow
keystone state park mushroom purple

SIDE TRIP! Twin Lakes Park

If you hike all the hikes at Keystone State Park, hit up Twin Lakes Park in Latrobe the next day.

Twin Lakes Park is only 8 miles from Keystone State Park, and has a gorgeous 2 1/2 mile almost-flat, paved and stone path around (you guessed it!) twin lakes. 

twin lakes park reflective sky

Not only can you get the rest of your dog-friendly walks in, you can also fish (but not on the boardwalk!) or go pedal-boating. 

twin lakes park stone walkway
twin lakes park no fishing off the boardwalk

And don’t worry about where to park your rig! There are plenty of spots along the road and in a few other parking lots.

Check out Axl Roads on the right:

rv parking at twin lakes park

Twin Lakes Park also had a few good fungi!

twin lakes park orange mushrooms
twin lakes park orange fungi

The Last Word

Even though they are smaller parks, you can still put together a great dog-hiking, lake-walking, camping weekend between Keystone State Park and Twin Lakes Park. 

keystone state park foot traffic only
We’ve also had fall hiking adventures in WV! Check out Cedar Creek State Park. 
Never hesitate to stop at interesting places along the way! Like this one in north central PA.
TAGS
RELATED POSTS

LEAVE A COMMENT