Agency Spotlight: Yellow Creek State Park
The 2,981-acre Yellow Creek State Park is in Indiana County along one of the first “highways” in the state, the Kittanning Path. This trail was used by the Delaware and Shawnee nations and by early settlers.
Today, visitors enjoy the sand beach, picnicking and educational and recreational programs. The 720-acre Yellow Creek Lake is a destination for boaters and anglers. The lake and park are an important rest stop for migrating birds.
The park is named for Yellow and Little Yellow creeks, which flow into the lake. Both creeks contain yellow clay in their banks and bottoms.
The 720-acre Yellow Creek Lake has boat launching ramps on the north shore, the south shore, in the beach day-use area and also a small launch in Grampaps Cove.
For anglers, the lake is well stocked with most warm-water game fish and panfish. These include smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, tiger muskellunge, yellow perch, bluegill and catfish. There is an ADA accessible fishing pier on the north shore. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission big bass regulations are in effect on Yellow Creek Lake.
The 800-foot beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. The beach/day use area has parking for over 4,000 people. Picnic tables, modern restrooms and a limited number of charcoal grills are scattered throughout the area. Visitors are encouraged to provide their own grills.
There are five miles of hiking trails in the park.
- Laurel Run Trail is a 0.5 mile loop which starts at the park office. This easy hike is especially beautiful in the spring when wildflowers abound.
- Ridgetop Trail is a challenging 2-mile trail. It begins in the beach/day-use area and winds through a variety of habitats.
- Damsite Trail is a 2.5-mile trail that offers a view of the Yellow Creek Dam. To drive to this trailhead, follow PA 259 south from the park office. After taking a right turn on PA 259 toward Brush Valley, turn onto Hoffman Road, the second road on the right. This road ends at a small parking area where Damsite Trail begins.
There are 18 miles of mountain bike trails on the north and south shores which are for hikers and bikers. The trails are easy riding with some challenging sections, which have alternate routes to bypass the obstacles. The trail loops around the park, with intersections marked with letters.
Six 13’ by 15’ camping cottages are along the lakeshore near McFeaters Cove. Each cottage sleeps five people in bunk beds. The cottages have wooden floors, windows, porch, picnic table, fire ring, and electric lights and outlets. Restrooms are nearby. Dogs are permitted in cottages 1 and 2 for a fee. There are also yurts available.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began the purchasing of the parkland in the early 1960s. Project 70 and Project 500 funds were used to purchase some of the park land and to develop the park. The park was opened to the public and dedicated on July 4, 1976. In November 1982 the Commonwealth purchased the 105-acre Boy Scout Camp - Camp Seph Mac as an addition to the park.
The park name is derived from the names of two streams, which form the 720-acre lake. Yellow Creek and Little Yellow Creek were so-called because of the preponderance of yellow clay material, which forms the banks and bottoms of both tributaries.
The park’s history is tied very closely with that of the western American frontier. The park is located near the Kittanning Path, a trail used by the Delaware and Shawnee Indians as a trade route to the western tribes. This trail was later used by settlers moving into the Ohio River Valley and points further west. The settlers that displaced the Native American residents and remained in this area were the last link to those families that continued westward. The local families and groups were dependent upon this western traffic for their existence as evidenced by the increasing number of tradesmen, craftsmen, and merchants in the area during the mid-1800s. In addition to these trades, many settlers also farmed, hunted and mined the land in and around Yellow Creek State Park. While the park contains no true historic structures, many old "homestead" foundations, old farm fields and former strip mines can still be found. These remains link the former occupants’ way of life to a westward moving America and the transition to an industrial area.
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