About 3,000 acres in size, Promised Land State Park is on the Pocono Plateau, 1,800 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by 12,464 acres of Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest, including natural areas.
The forests of the park consist primarily of beech, oak, maple and hemlock trees. Two lakes and several small streams add to the park’s outstanding scenic beauty.
Promised Land State Park is in Pike County, 10 miles north of Canadensis, along PA 390. The park is easily reached from interstates 80 and 84. The park is within a one to three hour drive from Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem, Reading, Harrisburg, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia and 35 miles from the New York and New Jersey state borders.
Make online reservations at: www.visitPAparks.com or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, for state park information and reservations.
Fishing: The 422-acre Promised Lake and the 173-acre Lower Lake offer great opportunities for fishing, including ice fishing. The common fish species are largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, muskellunge, yellow perch, sunfish and catfish. Lower Lake is approved trout waters and is stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply.
Trail System: Designated recreational trails in this
area are marked with a vertical blue blaze. At each trail intersection, a sign will designate the trail name, trail uses, equipment permitted, distances, directions, and other pertinent information. Permitted trail usage is designated by international symbols. Any other markings are NOT relevant to this trail system. Additional trail information and descriptions are available at the park office.
Hiking: There are about 50 miles of hiking trails in
Promised Land State Park and the surrounding state forest, providing access to many natural scenic places. Hike Bruce Lake Road to a natural glacial lake, or see the little waterfalls along Little Falls Trail, or walk a loop around Conservation Island. Splendid opportunities exist for nature study, relaxation and exploration.
The trails lead through areas rich in historic and scenic interest. This is especially true from mid-June until mid-July when the mountain laurel and rhododendron are in bloom and again in mid-October at the height of the fall foliage.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all hiking trails, except snowmobiles, which are allowed on designated snowmobile trails. Before hiking, let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Take a map, stay on the trails and plan to return before dusk. Wear proper attire and footwear when hiking. Be aware of hunting seasons and
hunting areas within the park and wear fluorescent orange clothing during hunting seasons.
Horseback Riding: Promised Land State Park
provides access to selected equestrian trails on state forest lands. Rentals are not available.
Bicycling: Riders share the road on the 6.5-mile
paved road around Promised Land Lake. Bicycles are not permitted on hiking trails.
Mountain Biking: Adjacent Delaware State Forest
land has trails.
Boating: electric motors only
The 422-acre Promised Land Lake and the 173-acre
Lower Lake have five boat launching areas. Five mooring areas offer a total of 170 mooring spaces rented on a seasonal basis. A boat rental is on Promised Land Lake across from Main Beach and rents rowboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats.
Motorboats must display a boat registration from any state. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
éHunting and Firearms: About 450 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear and turkey. Adjacent forestry land has additional areas open to hunting.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and
regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting 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 leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Orienteering: Beginner and intermediate orienteering courses are near the Rock Oak Ridge Trailhead, near the Pines Campground.
Picnicking: The Picnic Area is by Promised Land Lake and has many picnic tables in a scenic woodland setting. The Picnic Area has parking areas, water, garbage containers, sand volleyball court and restrooms. The Main Beach, boat rental and refreshment stand are all within a short walk.
Two 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.
Prior to arrival, busses must get a permit to be in the picnic area.
Swimming: There are two sand beaches that are open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. The Main Beach is in the Picnic Area. The Pickerel Point Beach is on the end of Pickerel Point. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming.
All children ten years of age or younger must be accompanied by a person at least 14 years of age. All groups at the beach must meet the state park adult to child ratio requirements for supervision.
Stay the Night
Camping: modern and rustic campsites, some with electricity
There are four camping areas. All campgrounds are near swimming, boating, fishing and hiking. The maximum stay in all camping areas is fourteen days during the summer season and 21 days during the off-season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours before setting up again.
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Tucked into the trees and rocks, Deerfield Campground is just south of Promised Land Lake and is open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. This rustic area has flush toilets. Pay showers are in the Picnic Area.
Lower Lake Campground opens in April and closes in December. The Beechwood and Northwoods areas are open from early April through Mid-December. Modern facilities are available Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Rhododendron Area is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please contact the park office for specific dates.
Pickerel Point Campground is on a peninsula on the southern side of Promised Land Lake and is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Walk-in campsites are on the lakeshore. This rustic area has vault toilets. Pay showers are in the Picnic Area. An unguarded swimming area is at the end of the peninsula.
The Pines Campground is at the northwestern end of Promised Land Lake and is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend. The restrooms have flush toilets. Pay showers are in the Picnic Area. A trail leads to the Picnic Area and the Main Beach. There are ADA accessible campsites.
Cabins: Nestled in hemlocks, adjacent to Lower Lake, the Bear Wallow Cabin Colony has twelve rustic rental cabins constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. These rustic cabins each have a fireplace, electricity and an adjacent private bathroom. One cabin is ADA accessible.
Scattered around Promised Land State Park are privately owned cabins on leased land. Please respect the property rights of these cabin owners.
Snowmobiling: Registered snowmobiles may be used on more than 23 miles of designated snowmobile trails. The trails, which are on both state park and state forest lands, are open daily after the end of deer season in late December, weather permitting. Snowmobile maps are available at the
Cross-country Skiing: Skiing and snowshoeing
are permitted on all trails. Bruce Lake Natural Area and Conservation Island are the best trails for skiing.
Ice Fishing: Conditions permitting, ice fishing is popular on both lakes. Bass, pickerel, panfish and on Lower Lake, trout, are the common species captured through the ice.
Ice Skating: Conditions permitting, ice skating
occurs on Promised Land Lake. Contact the park office for information.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Spring through fall, school programs are offered on a wide variety of topics and levels. Everyone is invited to our traditional summer weekend campfire programs and guided outdoor recreation programs.
The park has a museum that features displays of natural features found in the area and artifacts and the story of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
A one-mile self-guiding interpretive trail is on
Conservation Island on Promised Land Lake. A trail guide is available for investigating different habitats of this island.
The land that became Promised Land State Park was hunting grounds for the Minsi Tribe of the Wolf Clan of the Lenni-Lenape Indians (Delaware).
The religious group, the Shakers, purchased land in the area. After contracting the forests to be timbered, the Shakers left the area.
Early settlers of the area erected sawmills to process the large stands of conifer and hardwood trees. The land was repeatedly clear-cut. With the loss of trees came erosion and forest fires, and migration of wildlife from the area.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land in 1902. Promised Land was the fourth Pennsylvania state park. The Commonwealth worked to protect and reclaim the area and the forest and wildlife began to return. The first park facilities opened to the public in 1905.
In 1933, to relieve the rampant unemployment of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The young men in the CCC received food, clothes and a small paycheck, in return for building roads, trails and recreational facilities, fighting fires, planting trees and performing many other conservation activities. Camp S-139 opened in May of 1933 and closed in July of 1941. The hard working young men transformed the land in and around Promised Land State Park.
On Sunday evening, May 31, 1998, an F-2 tornado (winds of 113 -157 mph) passed through Promised Land State Park. It cut a northeasterly path through the park and crossed Lower Lake Road, PA 390 and North Shore Road near Sucker Brook. Over 500 people were trapped overnight in the park, but no one was seriously hurt. The park office has copies of After the Wind Died Down, a booklet about the tornado and its aftermath.
Promised Land State Park is in the Pocono Plateau, a rugged highland with rocky soil, nutrient-poor bogs, dark evergreen forests and a diversity of animals and plants.
About 20,000 years ago, a giant sheet of ice at least one mile thick covered Promised Land. The very rocky soil is glacial till, evidence of the glacier. Much of the park is characterized by sphagnum moss bogs, evergreen trees and thin, moist, rocky soil. Blackburnian warbler, red-breasted nuthatch and northern waterthrush are common to this habitat. In the spring, spotted and Jefferson salamanders and
wood frogs flock to the bogs to breed.
Due to logging of the forests, large portions of the forest have regrown with a mix of deciduous trees like American beech, many species of oak and red maple trees. American redstart, red-eyed vireo and Louisiana waterthrush are common to these forests.
In early May, before any trees have leaves, the
serviceberry trees flower. In mid-June, the plentiful mountain laurel blooms, followed in late-June to early-July by the rhododendron. In mid-July, the highbush blueberries bear fruit, providing a feast for bears and birds.
Black bear are common in the park. This omnivore eats plants, grasses, berries and occasionally meat. Unfortunately, bears find human food to be nearly irresistible. Please observe wildlife from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.
Promised Land State Park is an important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audobon Society.
A wildlife observation station is on Lower Lake by Bear Wallow Boat Launch. Approach the area quietly for the best chance to see waterfowl and other animals. Bald eagles have nested in the park for several years and the nest is across the lake from the wildlife observation station.
Plants and animals are protected at the park. Park animals are wild, potentially dangerous and can become a nuisance. Please do not feed any wildlife. Feeding raccoons, squirrels or chipmunks may expose you to the threat of rabies.
Feeding Canada geese at the swimming areas results in large quantities of fecal droppings, which is offensive to park visitors and a potential health hazard.
The Bear Truths
Many Pennsylvania state parks are habitat for black bears. Although they appear cute and cuddly like a teddy bear, black bears are wild animals.
A black bear can scramble up a tree like a raccoon and sprint as fast as a race horse. Bears use their claws to tear apart rotting logs to find food, and those claws also work well to open garbage cans and coolers. The size and strength of a black bear is astonishing.
Black bears have poor eyesight and fair hearing, but an excellent sense of smell. Aromatic scents coming from your food can attract a curious and hungry bear from a great distance.
Store all food items inside a vehicle. At primitive, walk-in campsites, suspend food between two trees, ten feet in the air and three feet from either tree.
Black bears normally avoid people, but bears dependent on eating human food can become aggressive when people get between them and food.
If you come in contact with a black bear, try chasing it away by making loud noises like yelling, honking a car horn or banging a pot. Notify a park employee if you have difficulties with bears.
Never approach a bear and be especially wary of mother bears and cubs.
Access for People with Disabilities
éThis symbol indicates facilities and activities that are accessible. This publication text is available in alternative formats.
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
For information on nearby attractions, contact: Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau, 800-POCONOS.
Varden Conservation Area: Promised Land State
Park serves as the headquarters for Varden Conservation Area. The conservation area is about 25 miles northwest of Promised Land in Varden of Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
The 420-acre conservation area was a donation from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer. There are over 3 miles of trails that navigate through old farm fields, forests, tree plantations and nearby wetlands.
Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest:
Promised Land State Park is surrounded by 12,500 acres of Delaware State Forest. There are two nearby natural areas and recreational opportunities like hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling. Camping is prohibited in this state forest. 570-895-4000
Bruce Lake Natural Area: The 2,845-acre natural
area contains two lakes, wetlands and unique plants. Bruce Lake is a natural glacier lake.
Pine Lake Natural Area: This small natural area
has a ten-acre glacial bog.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation
Area: Comprising 70,000 acres of the Delaware River
shoreline in PA and NJ, this area offers canoeing, fishing, swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, waterfalls and historic areas. Visitors can see Dingmans Falls, Zane Grey Home, Roebling Bridge and the Appalachian Trail. 570-426-2452
Lake Wallenpaupack: This 5,700-acre lake is
owned by PPL and is open to public fishing and boating. The lake contains many species of warm-water fish in addition to trout. 570-226-3191
Protect and Preserve Our Parks
Please make your visit safe and enjoyable. Obey all posted rules and regulations and respect fellow visitors and the resources of the park.
• Be prepared and bring the proper equipment. Natural areas may possess hazards. Your personal safety and that of your family are your responsibility.
• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
• Uncontrolled pets may chase wildlife or frighten visitors. Pets must be controlled and attended at all times and on a leash or otherwise safely restrained.
• Do your part to keep wildlife wild! Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance and do not feed or approach wild animals.
• Prevent forest fires by having a fire in proper facilities and properly disposing of hot coals. Do not leave a fire unattended.
• Please park only in designated areas and obey all traffic regulations.
• Please recycle. Place trash accumulated during your stay in proper receptacles, or take it home with you.
• Soliciting and posting signs is prohibited without approval from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.