Friday, May 24, 2019

Western PA State Parks Road Trip : Day Two

Our story picks up at Raccoon Creek State Park, where of course it rained more overnight. I was up around 6am and balled the soaking wet tent up and threw it in the car. My hope was to dry it out at our next stop that evening. I was also starving because I could not find anywhere to stop for dinner the night before, but I wanted to find two geocaches near the ranger station and check out a hiking trail before I left.

We explored and visited the site of the Frankfort Mineral Springs. In the 1800s this was a health spa and people would come here to drink the water from the mineral spring for kidney health and stay at the hotel (which is now in ruins.) It was not a long trail but there was nobody else around and it was a beautiful spot.

Ruins of the Hotel
After that, I started northward towards the next stop, McConnell's Mill State Park. It was about an hour and it was pouring. I checked the weather and it looked like more of the same. Low chance of rain but it was 100% pouring. I was feeling a little bummed. Rainy day of hiking and park visiting, and how would I ever get my tent dried out?

The first stop at McConnell's Mill was at a scenic vista named Cleland Rock, randomly down a dirt driveway in the middle of a corn field. It was pretty, and there was a sasquatch geocache hidden there.

Cleland Rock Vista
A Sasquatch!

After that I headed to the main trail, and the hike I was most excited about for Saturday. And it stopped raining! Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, beautiful scenery and rocky trail next to a rushing creek. It did not disappoint! I had some trouble finding parking. There is limited parking near the Mill and no signage (that I saw.) directing to an overflow parking lot. I eventually figured it out and spent a good 2+ hours enjoying the gorge. I could have spent longer! The whole gorge trail is 6 miles one way.

McConnells Mill

We moved on to our next stop Moraine State Park. We did not stay too long here. It was a gorgeous enormous lake. I found a boat access area, took the dogs for a quick hike around and let Perri get a drink in the water and we moved on.

Moraine State Park
Jennings Environmental Education Center was next. Another quick stop, checked out the nature trail and took a few photos and we moved on.

Maurice K Goddard State Park was next, another lake park. We took a quick walk, found a geocache and moved along.

It was challenging for me, on this trip, to stop at some parks and not spend a lot of time there or not explore all that I could. It simply wasn't possible and I had to remind myself that my criteria is to "visit" each park.

Last stop of the day was our camp, Pymatuning State Park. Enormous reservoir lake and I even got a campsite right by the water. The rain had stopped, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I made great time with travelling and even picked up an air pump for the heckin' air mattress. I had ice cream for dinner.

\After drying out the tent and setting up my campsite, the dogs and I went to visit the "Spillway". The spillway was a really fascinating site and I enjoyed it, but it was very crowded with people of all ages with bags of bread who threw slide after piece after slice of bread into the spillway. It was hard to enjoy it. We crossed the Ohio/PA state line to get there which was kinda fun for me.

We also did an evening hike on a land bridge/jetty where many people were fishing. The sun was setting, the weather was perfect, people wanted to pet my dogs and talk, the peepers were singing. It was a really special moment and I enjoyed it so much. It made up for the hysterical crowds at the spillway.

Back to camp for some reading time and a shower and an excellent night sleep on the inflated air mattress! It did rain a little bit and made the outside of the tent wet but at least the inside was nice and dry.


  1. I love your honest reviews of certain spots. I find that we often look up good places to hike only to find that the crowds ruin them (and that all the photos online are very strategically taken to hide that fact). I also like how you're just casually Geocaching as you go. Your blog is what inspired me to start Geocaching myself!

    1. It is a tough balance, as I know I am also part of the crowd and we all have a right to be there! If possible I try for weekdays or early as possible in the mornings if on a weekend but not always possible.
      Geocaching added a little extra target for me in the parks I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time at, and they’re often hidden at a special or pretty place so I always love how caching shows me spots I might have overlooked. It’s so much fun and I’m glad you think so too!