Adventure PA: Pymatuning State Park

JAMESTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Pymatuning State Park is in Crawford County in northwestern Pennsylvania.

“Pymatuning is a Delaware Indian term that means ‘crooked mouth man’s dwelling place.’ It’s a little bit of a mystery. This was Crooked Creek, but there was also an Indian here that had a facial deformity, so they think it was that,” park manager Dan Bickel said. “Then another theory is there were deceitful dealings going on with trading, so it is really unknown.”

The park features the largest lake in Pennsylvania, but hundreds of years ago, it was a wet land.

“A chunk of ice broke off the receding Wisconsin glacier and just kind of formed a lowland area, so for years they struggled with good water supply,” Bickel said.

To help control water supply and flooding, a dam was built.

“The historic gatehouse controls all 64 billion gallons of water in the lake,” Bickel said. “It is the largest reservoir in Pennsylvania at over 17,000 acres.”

There are five beaches at the park and three full-service marinas. You can rent pontoon boats, kayaks, paddle boards and sail boats.

The park is best known for its fishing.

“It was voted one of the top family fishing destinations in the United States and it consistently is,” said Bickel. “Somebody just caught a 40-inch muskie here the other week. We like to call it the fish factory because it’s very productive.”

On the north side of the lake in Linesville, you can see where those fish come from at the Fish and Boat Commission’s hatchery and visitor center. There is no charge to walk through the hatchery. The fish from the Linesville hatchery end up in lakes and streams across the state.

Just down the road from the hatchery, you can feed the carp at the spillway.

“Carp are a non-native species and they began to gather at that spillway bowl in great numbers,” Bickel said. “As far back as the late 30’s, people started feeding the carp there and the slogan in Linesville is “where ducks walk on the backs of fish,” and that truly does happen there as they are competing for bread. It is definitely a must see.”

Adventure PA Checklist:

Location: The south shore of Pymatuning State Park near Jamestown is one hour and 15 minutes north of Pittsburgh off Route 322. It’s about 4 1/2 hours from Harrisburg. The north shore of the park, where you will find the hatchery and the carp, can be reached from US 6.

Accommodations: There are rustic, electric and full hook-up camping sites and modern bath houses. You can also rent lakefront modern cabins. Boat ramps and fishing piers are ADA accessible.

Cost: Day-use areas and parking are free. Camping rates reasonable. Rental rates for boats vary.

Best time to visit: Year-round. The park offers ice fishing in the winter.

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