DOTW - Moraine State Park in PA

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
DOTW - Moraine State Park in PA
Tue, 11-04-2003 - 11:42am

Moraine State Park features 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, an outstanding warm water fishery that is also great for sailing and boating. Visitors sometimes see osprey that were reintroduced to the park. Of special interest is the Frank Preston Conservation Area and a 7-mile paved bike trail that winds around the north shore of the lake.
Directions Weather Recreation Access History Wildlife Calendar Contacts Map
A lone boat cruises across the lake, with dark trees highligted by an orange sunset.

The park is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. Park information, launch permits, cabin information and assistance can be obtained at the park office near the entrance to the South Shore. It is open year round Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and weekends during the summer.

A secondary office at the Davis Hollow Marina on the North Shore can provide marina applications and general park information. It is open 24 hours a day April 15 through October 30th.

The gently rolling hills, lush forests and sparkling waters disguise a land that has endured the effects of continental glaciers and massive mineral extraction. Thousands of people visit the 3,225-acre Lake Arthur yet never realize that many people helped restore the park from prior coal mining and oil drilling practices. Today, the park is an outstanding example of environmental engineering achievement.

Park Advisories

7/14/2003 11:03:00 AM
Black Bears have been spotted on the North Shore of the Park. Treat all wild animals with respeact and keep your distance. If you come in contact with a bear, try chasing it away by making loud noises like yelling, or honking a car horn. Notify park staff if you have difficulties with bears.


Moraine State Park is in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Located in northwestern Pennsylvania near the crossroads of I-79 and I-80, Moraine State Park is bisected by PA 422 running east/west and PA 528 running north/south. To access the South Shore Recreation Area, take the South Shore Exit of PA 422. To access the North Shore from PA 422 East, take the North Shore Exit. There is no access to the North Shore from PA 422 headed east from I-79, so, take the South Shore Exit, get onto PA 422 West and take the North Shore Exit.

Click here for door-to-door MapQuest driving directions.

Recreational Opportunities

ADA Accessible

Picnicking: Picnic tables, charcoal grills and restrooms are located throughout the day use areas and marinas. Seven picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first come first served basis. All picnic areas are open from 7:00 a.m. to sunset.


ADA AccessiblePavilion 1 seats 80 and is in the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area
ADA AccessiblePavilion 2 seats 80 and is in the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area

Pavilion 3 seats 80 and is in the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area

Pavilion 4 seats 100 and is by Lakeview Beach

Pavilion 5 seats 100 and is by Lakeview Beach
ADA AccessiblePavilion 6seats 60 and is by McDanel's Boat Launch
ADA AccessiblePavilion 7seats 144 and is by McDanel's Boat Launch

Swimming: Swimming is permitted at two beaches along the shore of Lake Arthur. The Pleasant Valley Day Beach on the South Shore is a 1,200-foot turf and sand beach. Lakeview Beach on the North Shore is a 550-foot sand beach. Weather permitting, lifeguards are on duty daily from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Showers, changing facilities and food concessions are available at both beaches. To keep these areas clean and safe, pets are not allowed in the beaches.

ADA Accessible

Fishing: The 3,222-acre Lake Arthur is a warm water fishery. Common species are northern pike, largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie and bluegill. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stock muskellunge, walleye, channel catfish and hybrid striped bass.

Volunteers, park employees and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission employees have installed fish habitat throughout the lake. A map showing fish habitat project locations, water depths and specific features of the lake is available at the park office, marina office and the gift shop at McDanel's Boat Launch. A bait and snack shop is located at the Bear Run Boat Launch and is open seasonally.

Fishing is not permitted in these areas:

  • From boat docks, launching or mooring areas, or within 100 feet of these areas.
  • Anywhere in the Marina coves at Davis Hollow or Watts Bay.
  • In the Game Propagation Area.
  • Off of bridges.
  • Within 100 feet of the beaches.
  • Where posted no fishing.

For complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

Boating: up to 20 hp motors permitted
No boating is permitted in the Game Propagation Area. Non-powered boats must have one of the following: state park launching permit or state park mooring permit which are available at most state park offices; or current Pennsylvania boat registration. Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Boats registered in other states must display a Pennsylvania state park launch permit or mooring permit in addition to their current registration.

There are 10 boat-launching areas around Lake Arthur. Sailing is especially popular. Races and regattas for sailboats are held throughout the summer. At the Crescent Bay Area, sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, motorboats and pontoon boats may be rented in the summer, and paddle boats and canoes are available in the off season. Canoes and paddleboats may be rented at the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area on the South Shore only on weekends.

Windsurfing: Barber Point, near the Lakeview Beach, is popular for windsurfing due to stronger winds and sparse boat traffic. A state park launching permit is required for wind surfboards. All boating regulations apply to wind surfboards. Windsurfing lessons are available through the Crescent Bay boat rental concessionaire.

For complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

Bicycling: A paved, seven-mile bicycle trail winds near the shoreline between the Marina Restaurant and the Bike Rental Building in the northwest corner of the park. This trail is not a loop. The trail can be accessed at many places in the Lakeview Beach and Watts Bay Marina areas.

A bicycle rental and vending area is located at the beginning of the bike trail on the upper northwest corner of the north shore. Bicycles for the whole family may be rented every day between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, and weekends in April, May, September and October. Weather permitting, vending machines and restrooms are available in the Bike Rental Building and Watts Bay areas.

There is a six-mile loop trail for mountain bikes on the North Shore. Trailheads are located off of Mt. Union Road and Alexander Ridge Road.

Caution: The six-mile mountain bike trail can be hazardous. Some slopes are steep and there are rough surfaces and slippery areas. The trail is for experienced off-road riders in good physical condition who have equipment for off-road riding. Bikers ride bike trails at their own risk.

Camping: Camping is available at nearby private campgrounds. No camping is permitted in Moraine State Park. Information on nearby campgrounds is available at the park office.

Organized Group Camping: There are two camping areas available for organized groups, Muskrat Cove and Five Points camps. These primitive camps have picnic tables, cooking grills and water wells, but no showers. Advance reservations are required.

Go to organized group tenting for more information.

ADA Accessible

Cabins: Eleven modern cabins are available for rent year round. These electrically heated cabins sleep six people and have two bedrooms, bathroom with shower, kitchen, dining/living area and a dock on Lake Arthur. Renters must provide their own linens, towels, cookware and tableware. Play equipment for children is in a central area.

Go to cabins for more information.

Cabin Map: You must have Adobe Acrobat 4 or higher to view this map. Go download a copy of Acrobat Reader. Go to the Moraine cabin map. (240 kb)

ADA Accessible

Hunting and Firearms: Approximately 13,600 acres of Moraine State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are waterfowl, deer, turkey, grouse, bear, rabbit, pheasant and squirrel. Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day to March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply.

Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. The park is used by other visitors during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or camp.

A map is available at the park office showing portions of the park open to hunting. No hunting areas are posted.

For complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.

Recycling: A drop-off recycling center is located near the entrance to the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area on the park's South Shore during the summer season. There are auxiliary recycling centers at the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area, Point Picnic Area, Cabin Area and Davis Hollow Marina parking lot.


Hilltop Trail
1.1 or 3 miles
moderate hiking
green blazes

Access to this trail is adjacent to the entrance of Bear Run Boat Launch. You can hike this trail on a 1.1-mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Trail conditions range from flat grassy areas to rocky, steeper sections. The trail passes through different stages of forest regeneration and by bluebird boxes and the remains of a spring house.

Sunken Garden Trail
1.9 or 3 miles
moderate hiking
pink blazes

Access to the trail can be found by making the first right off of Pleasant Valley Road adjacent to Pleasant Valley Boat Launch. This trail will take you on either a 1.9 mile short loop or a 3-mile long loop. Both sections of trail are mowed and include moderate inclines. The longer section offers slightly more rugged terrain. The trail offers views of Lake Arthur from the short loop, white pine stands and a small pond on the long loop, and lake edge wetlands. This trail is a cross-country ski trail in the winter.

Pleasant Valley Trail
2.6 miles
easy hiking
yellow blazes

Access to this trail is directly across Pleasant Valley Road from the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area. This mowed trail offers an easy hike through the hills and valleys of the South Shore. The trail provides access to both the Windy Knob and Bear Run picnic areas, crosses the Hilltop Trail, and ends at the intersection with Sunken Garden Trail. Making a left on the Sunken Garden Trail will return you to the trailhead. The trail passes through wooded and open grassy areas and is a cross-country ski trail.

Wyggeston Trail
1.5 to 4.5 miles
moderate to difficult hiking
orange blazes

The northern end of the trail can be accessed from Christley Road just west of Route 528 and the southern terminus from Old Route 422. This trail can be hiked either as a 1.5-mile loop, or a 3-mile or 4.5-mile trail that will not return you to your point of origin. This trail has rougher, rockier terrain and is a more challenging hike than the other trails on the South Shore. The extra effort is well worth it because the trail takes you into a remote, undeveloped section of the park and by an old house foundation, stone fences and a historic oil pump house.

Glacier Ridge Trail
14 miles
difficult hiking
blue blazes

This trail winds through forests, crosses streams and offers some views of the Lake Arthur. Designated as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, this trail extends 14 miles from the western end of the Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center. The trail can be accessed at many points, such as PA Route 528 (two connector trails blazed in yellow), Mount Union Road (Twp. Route 10050), Bike Rental Building and McDanel's Launch Area.

Five Points Trail
1.5 mile
easy hiking
light green blazes

This loop trail is located near Lakeview Beach and the cabin colony. The trail meanders though forests and by a small pond.

Winter Activities

Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.

Ice Skating: An ice skating area is maintained in the Pleasant Valley Day Use Area. Ice thickness is not monitored.

Cross-country Skiing: Pleasant Valley and Sunken Garden trails have been improved and connected to provide six miles of trails. The trails are blazed with buff and pink and are suitable for all skill levels.

Ice Boating: Ice boats must display a state park launch permit.

Ice Fishing: Common species caught are largemouth bass, crappie, blue gill, yellow perch and northern pike. Conditions permitting, ice fishing is permitted in the Game Propagation Area from January 1 through March 15.

Snowmobiling: There are approximately 20 miles of trails in the park.

Sledding: A very popular sledding area is in the Pleasant View Picnic Area in the South Shore.

Interpretive Programs

Moraine State Park offers a wide variety of interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Programs are offered in the summer season. For more detailed information contact the park office. Pontoon boat tours of the lake board at McDanel's Boat Launch.

Go to environmental education and interpretation for more information.


A full service restaurant near the Davis Hollow Marina is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and weekends during May, September and October. Contact the restaurant Web site for operating hours, menu and other information.

Glacial History

A moraine is soil, rocks and debris that accumulates at the edges and underneath a glacier. Moraine State Park received its name because at least four continental glaciers have reached their greatest extent near the park, leaving their signatures on the landscape.

During the third great ice advance about 140,000 years ago, a continental glacier dammed area creeks making three glacial lakes. To the north, Slippery Rock Creek filled giant Lake Edmund. To the southeast, extinct McConnell's Run filled tiny Lake Prouty. In the middle, Muddy Creek filled the medium-sized Lake Watts.

Before the glacier dam, Slippery Rock and Muddy creeks flowed north while extinct McConnells Run flowed south. The glacier dammed Lake Prouty on the edge of the drainage divide. Eventually Lake Prouty spilled over and rushed to the south, carving Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Lakes Watts and Edmund drained into the gorge, digging it deeper and making Slippery Rock and Muddy creeks flow south. Areas of the Slippery Rock Gorge may be seen at nearby McConnell's Mill State Park.

The glacier created a landscape of rolling hills topped with hardwood trees and swamps in the valley bottoms. Moraines containing gravel, sand and clay were draped upon the landscape and silt was left on the extinct lake bottoms.

Human History

American Indians found the land to be excellent hunting grounds. In the 1800s, settlers cleared the forests and drained the swamps to make farm fields. Sand and gravel deposited by the glaciers were mined and sold. Limestone and clay were mined to make ceramics. Local shale was used to make bricks. Deeper underground, the discovery of bituminous coal ushered in a boom time for the region. Seven coal beds were deep-mined and later the land was strip-mined.

In the late 1800s, gas wells were drilled to extract oil and gas. When the wells dried up, they were abandoned and left unsealed.

The Western Allegheny Railroad transported a majority of these extracted minerals to Pittsburgh. The railroad ran the full length of Muddy Creek Valley and through the Village of Isle, where the Route 528 bridge is today. Abandoned in 1939, the old railroad grade is still visible west of the dam and in the Muddy Creek finger of Lake Arthur.

Much of the park area lost its topsoil and many streams were polluted with acid mine drainage. The land remained largely unoccupied.

In 1926, Frank W. Preston of England moved to the town of Meridian and opened a glass research lab. A leader in glass research, Dr. Preston was also a geologist and naturalist. On a trip to the Muddy Creek Valley, he noticed how the hills changed their shape and attributed it to the glacial periods. Preston studied the land for decades and named many of the landforms after Edmund Watts Arthur, a prominent Pittsburgh attorney and naturalist. With the support of friends, Preston formed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to purchase land to recreate the glacial landscape and preserve open space. Muddy Creek was dammed to create modern Lake Arthur as a smaller version of glacial Lake Watts.

The former Department of Forests and Waters and the former Pennsylvania Department of Mines and Mineral Industries combined forces to reclaim the abused land. Deep mines were sealed, strip mines were back-filled and graded, and 422 gas and oil wells were plugged. Soil was treated with fertilizer, thousands of trees, and grasses and clovers were planted to restore the land.

By November of 1968, the dam was complete and two years later Lake Arthur reached its full level. Moraine State Park was dedicated on May 23, 1970.

Lake Arthur reminds us that our use of natural resources to meet human needs requires decisions that affect the quality of the environment.

Historic Points of Interest

Davis Cabin: Construction began before the American Revolution on this cabin of hand-hewn logs and hand-carved stone. Located behind the Davis Hollow Marina, it was used as a summer home by Mrs. Katherine Davis and her sister Miss Eleanor Holt. A fine example of pioneer construction, there is a safe built within a stone wall, an authentic wagon wheel chandelier and walls made of wormy American chestnut.

Oil Pump House: An oil pump house is tucked in the woods just beyond Muskrat Cove where a stream crosses under the service road. Built at the turn of the century, it contains a Bessemer engine and other equipment used during the early days of the oil industry.

Access for People with Disabilities

Accessible picnic tables and parking spaces are designated and located throughout the park. Accessible flush toilet restrooms are located in the Pleasant Valley Picnic Area, Pleasant Valley Beach, Pleasant View Picnic Area, Bear Run Boat Launch, McDanel's Boat Launch, Old Route 422 Boat Launch, Lakeview Beach Area and the Davis Hollow and Watts Bay marinas. Cabin 11 is fully accessible. Accessible mooring is available at Davis Hollow Marina. Accessible fishing piers are located at Bear Run Launch and the Old Route 422 Boat Launch. A paved path into the water is located at the Pleasant Valley Beach.

ADA Accessible

If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks:
888-PA-PARKS (voice)
717-558-2710 (local or international voice)
888-537-7294 (TTY)
717-558-2711 (local or international TTY)
711 (AT&T Relay Services)

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Lake Arthur Wildlife

Lake Arthur provides over forty miles of scenic shoreline. Its tributaries include Muddy Run, Big Run, Swamp Run, Bear Run and over 75 intermittent streams. Ranging from an average depth of 12 feet to about 36 feet deep near the dam, the shallow waters are home to a variety of warm water fish. Frogs, newts, turtles and water snakes prowl the edges of the lake. Avian anglers like the tall great blue heron, its short cousin the green-backed heron and the small belted kingfisher prey on minnows and fish fry, too small to be caught by human anglers. In the early spring, common loons stop at the lake on their migration to the far north.

Osprey may be seen flying over Lake Arthur. Once extirpated from Western Pennsylvania, these "fish hawks" have been reintroduced to Moraine through a four-year hacking program begun in 1993. The first osprey pair to nest along Lake Arthur as a result of the reintroduction effort raised three young in 1996.

For More Information Contact


Moraine State Park
225 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Portersville, PA 16051-9650
Manager: Obie Derr

An equal opportunity employer



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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 11-04-2003 - 11:47am
Being only an hour drive from home, this is a favorite park of ours to go to for the day or the weekend.