yellow creek state park waterfowl observatory
Pennsylvania State Parks

Trip Report: Yellow Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

May 8, 2020
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Yellow Creek State Park in Indiana, PA, has two creeks and a lake that make for a great boating, fishing, or bird-watching destination- plus a few trails for hiking and mountain biking. 

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we visited this park for a day trip only rather than an RV weekend. All of the facilities were still closed – including the Office, bathrooms, and playgrounds – but you were able to enjoy the trails, lake, and creeks. 


History & Location

Yellow Creek State Park is located in Penn Run, western-central Pennsylvania, right near Indiana. 

In 1963, the state created the park so nearby residents would have a place to enjoy the outdoors, and in 1969, they raised a dam to create the 720-acre lake where visitors can swim, boat, kayak, and fish. 

Around the lake and two creeks, there are about 5-7 miles of hiking trails that intersect and intermingle with some mountain biking trails. 

Campground (or not)

Yellow Creek State Park does not have a campground, but they do have 6 camping cottages (2 are dog-friendly) and 4 yurts if you’d like to make a weekend of it. 

BUT even though there are restrooms near the cottages and yurts, there are no hot showers.

You know how I feel about that. No overnights for the Tails here!

Trails & Wildlife

Yellow Creek State Park’s website says they have five miles of hiking trails, but with the focus of the park really being the lake, we weren’t sure what to expect.

The park map was really confusing, and many of the trails seemed to overlap and intersect. 

yellow creek state park hiking map

To access the most trails, it makes sense to start at the double-loop parking lot in the bottom-right quadrant of this map. This gives you the option of heading in a few different directions or connecting several trail loops to make your hike more interesting.

We initially chose to take the Simpson Trail out to the dam. 

But instead we ended up at the Waterfowl Observatory. 

yellow creek waterfowl observatory selfie

When we got back on track, we crossed so many trails, we decided we were headed the wrong direction and at this rate would never make it all the way to the dam. 

Be aware: the loops and signs go in all directions, and it isn’t ever clear where you’re headed. Many of the trail intersections have three or four directions, but only two appear on the map.

We opted to go back on Ridge Top Trail and see a few footbridges… except somehow we ended up on the other side of Ridge Top Trail and coming down the hill right where we started! 

yellow creek state park ridge top trail

For day trips, it’s always a great idea to pack a picnic, and there are lots of places to break for lunch or snacks, including pavilions and a small beach area.

After breaking for a picnic lunch in the pavilion at the bottom of Simpson Trail, we drove down Campground Road to Grandpap’s Cove, a boat access area with limited parking. 

We took a quick, muddy hike to Grandma’s Cove along the dirt road, saw a few fishermen and boats, and hoofed it back to the car.  

coves at yellow creek state park

To round out the day, we parked at the Park Office to do a quick half-mile loop on Laurel Run Trail. 

Before we even hit the trail head, we saw we were not the first ones there that day! 

yellow creek state park bear track

Yep, Russ spotted what appeared to be a giant bear print. Fortunately, we didn’t meet the owner on our hike!

Laurel Run Trail proved to be the dog’s favorite. About half of this flat trail follows a dog-friendly creek, giving your pooches the perfect opportunity to splash around and clean off after a day of muddy hiking!

As far as real wildlife, we spotted this little guy along the way…

yellow creek state park caterpillar

…and came across one group of interesting ‘shrooms. 

yellow creek state park mushrooms

Laurel Run Trail is a great way to wind down your day at Yellow Creek State Park. 



the meadows original frozen custard

About a half an hour from the park along Route 19 in New Alexandria, you’ll probably be craving some ice cream!

The Meadows Original Frozen Custard is right along the highway, with a large parking lot, ample dog-friendly porch area, and a convenient drive-thru. 

They have all the regular ice cream staples, including cakes and take-home pints and quarts. 

We opted for two small Arctic Swirls and a small vanilla cup for Franklin and Hazel to share, for a total of $15- which we thought was a little expensive. 

When we all tasted the delicious treats, we got over the price!


The Last Word

While boaters and fisherman will surely appreciate Yellow Creek State Park, we found it to be a good day hiking trip for dogs, too. 

Check on the most recent COVID-19 restrictions before visiting to be able to make the most of your trip. 

This can’t go on forever. Maybe start thinking about your own RV weekends? 
Looking for a good book while staying home? Here’s a recommendation.