Are you ready to get back to nature?
Located in Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Canoe Creek State Park was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Bureau of Parks as one of “Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.” And with 12 miles of trails that take you through forests, wetlands and along the lakeshore, it’s easy to understand why. The park boasts 961 acres, including a 155-acre lake where you can fish year-round, as well as a sand beach that is open for swimming during the summer.
Hit the Canoe Creek trails
According to Jennifer Fleck, marketing manager for Explore Altoona, visitors to the park will tell you that their favorite trail is the Limestone Loop. An easy trail, the 1.2-mile trek follows an old railroad grade to the Blair Limestone Company kilns.
“As you’re exploring along this trail, it’s really awesome when you enter the area where the kilns stand. They have a profound presence in the park,” Fleck said.
The kilns are a glimpse into the mining past of Blair County, and are one of the park’s main features.
The half-mile Marsh Trail provides a scenic winding boardwalk along the lakefront, with benches and an observation blind for plenty of wildlife viewing.
For more experienced hikers, Hartman Trail challenges hikers to climb the slope of Moore’s Hill to the ridge where the trail becomes a narrow rocky path through scenic woodlands, overlooking Scotch Valley, and then back down over the old Blair Limestone Company quarry and limekilns before following Mattern Trail along Mary Ann’s Creek, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Where to stay
Modern cabins right within Canoe Creek State Park allow up to six people to sleep overlooking the park’s lake. They have two bedrooms, a living and dining room, bathroom, kitchen and feature modern conveniences throughout.
Less than five miles from the park, Fleck says, there are a number of hotels available.
Even more to explore outdoors
Thanks to Altoona and Blair County’s rich railroad history, a variety of outdoor-related attractions beckon adventurers.
The Lower Trail, Fleck said, was part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal which operated in the 1800s. At the end of the canal era, the Pennsylvania Railroad began using the property. Eventually the railroad abandoned the land. It then became a unique place for recreational use and was opened to the public as The Lower Trail. Along the 17-mile trail, you’ll find remnants of the canal era, including the remains of locks, foundations of lock tenders’ houses and the historical Mt. Etna iron plantation area.
Discover even more history at Canal Basin Park, featuring parts from trains during the time of the Allegheny Portage Railroad and a custom designed play structure replicating a Sectional Canal Boat for kids. The on-site visitors center is a restored house from the Victorian period known as the Riser House.
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