PA’s State Parks

As we gear up for a summer of camping and getting outdoors, I’m excited to share about some of our State Parks within our council footprint for Girl Scouts to check out this summer! Did you know that the parks of America go by many different names? The most common is usually a state or national park, but names can also include national forests, wildlife areas, recreation trails, natural areas, as well as many other names. Yosemite became the first national park in 1872, and not too long after Pennsylvania designated its first state park Valley Forge in 1893. Today Pennsylvania has 121 state parks, many of which can be found right inside our council. My list below is only a few of our state parks, but you can check out a full list here to plan your summer outdoors! 

Codorus State Park 

Located in the southern part of our council, the land of Codorus was originally used for industry, and had the first coal burning furnace west of the Susquehanna River. One of the founders of the area, George Ross, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and even introduced George Washington and Betsy Ross! With over 3,500 acres, visitors can experience fishing, bird watching, swimming, hiking, camping and more.  

Pine Grove Furnace State Park 

Also in the southern part of our council is Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Originally used as an Iron Works during the Civil War and beyond, John Birkinbine became the lead engineer for the company in 1878. Dismayed by the dwindling forests in Pennsylvania, Birkinbine eventually went on to be a founding member of the PA Forestry Association after the Iron Works was shut down. In 1913 the land was sold to the state and was turned into the state park we know today. Some of the original buildings from the Iron Works are still standing today and can be visited. This park is the halfway point of the Appalachian trail, so you can also hike the trail and visit the Appalachian Trail Museum! 

Rothrock State Forest 

Named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, also known as the “father of forestry” in Pennsylvania, this state forest boasts more than 96,000 acres! This is a great place to visit to see a forest “at work”. Protecting rare plant communities, timber harvests and gypsy moth containment are all examples of this.  

Frances Slocum State Park 

Located in the northern part of our council near Scranton, this park is named for Frances Slocum, a young girl from Wilkes-Barre who was kidnapped by a group of Delaware Indians in 1778. The Native Americans traveled north and west, and Frances traveled with them, eventually assimilating to life with the tribe, and even refusing to return home with her brothers when they finally found her 59 years later. This park features the Patrick J. Solano Environmental Education Center, which features ecology programming and an exhibit on the indigenous people of the area.  

Badges You Can Earn 

2021 Global Action Award 

  • This award has several steps to it, however visiting a state park to learn about how climate change has impacted the trees, wildlife, marine life, and other parts of the environment is one of the steps! 

Daisy Trail Adventure  

  • Girls will plan and go on a hiking adventure for this badge, and a short trail for beginners at a state park would be a great introduction to hiking and our state parks.  

Brownie Hiker  

Brownie Outdoor Art Creator 

Brownie Trail Adventure 

Junior Animal Habitats 

Junior Camper  

Junior Trail Adventure 

Junior Outdoor Art Explorer 

Cadette Trailblazing 

Cadette Primitive Camping 

Cadette Eco Trekker 

Cadette Trail Adventure 

Senior Adventurer 

Senior Trail Adventure 

Senior Paddling 

Ambassador Trail Adventure 

Ambassador Survival Camper 

Ambassador Ultimate Recreation Challenge 

This list contains only 4 of the many state parks available to us in Pennsylvania. This summer I challenge you to check out a few of our awesome state parks, and get outside and moving. You can even take your state park trip and use it as an experience toward earning one of the badges I mentioned above. Let us know in the comments which state park is your favorite to visit! 


Written by Colleen Sypien