Pymatuning State Park is big in many ways.At 16,892 acres it is one of the largest Pennsylvania state parks, while the 17,088-acre Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in the Commonwealth. Pymatuning is among the most visited state parks in Pennsylvania. But the biggest thing about the park is the fun you can have boating, fishing, swimming, camping and enjoying other recreational opportunities.
The south shore of the park, including Jamestown Campground, boat launch, beach, cabins, picnic areas, group tenting and the park office, can be reached from US 322. The north shore of the park, including Linesville Campground, beach, picnic areas, boat launch, marina and cabins can be reached from US 6. The east shore of the park, Tuttle Point, beach, picnic areas, boat launches and Espyville Marina can be reached from PA 285.
Make online reservations at www.visitPAparks.com or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, for state park information and reservations.
Top 10 Activities to do at Pymatuning
1. Watch for eagles at Wilson Launch.
2. Catch a walleye or a crappie from one of the many developed shoreline fishing areas.
3. Take a kayak or canoe trip on the Shenango River.
4. Feed the carp at the Spillway.
5. Rent a pontoon boat at Jamestown, Espyville or Linesville marinas.
6. Explore the history of the swamp, reservoir and dam at the Gatehouse.
7. Spend a weekend at the Jamestown or Linesville campground.
8. Visit the Fish and Boat Commission’s Linesville Fish Hatchery and the Game Commission’s Wildlife Learning Center.
The three Pennsylvania boat marinas have boat mooring and rent pontoon boats, motorboats, rowboats, canoes and kayaks and have a store that has bait, tackle and snacks.
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.
éPicnicking: Picnic tables are available in many areas. Jamestown and Linesville beaches have ADA accessible picnic sites complete with grill and table.
There are 10 picnic pavilions that may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Linesville Pavilion 8 is near the Linesville Beach and Espyville Pavilion 13 is at the Espyville Launch. The other pavilions are located throughout the Jamestown day use area. From the southeast moving clockwise on the map is Ackerman Pavilion 9, Spruce Hill Pavilion 2, Weir Pavilion 1, Carp Point Pavilion 3, Ball Field Pavilion 10, Bay View Pavilion 4, Westinghouse Pavilion 5 and Main Beach Pavilion 11. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Pets in day use areas must be kept on a leash or safely restrained and are prohibited in swimming areas and some overnight areas.
Sunset Photography: Popular areas to photograph the sunsets at Pymatuning are the Spillway, Linesville Beach, the causeway and Jamestown Main Beach. While the setting sun makes beautiful photographs, wait a few minutes after complete sunset to capture the afterglow where you will often have brilliant oranges and yellows to give you those postcard shots.
éFishing: The Pymatuning Reservoir is a warmwater fishery. Common species are walleye, muskellunge, carp, crappie, perch, bluegill and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Ice fishing during the winter months is also popular. When fishing by boat, fishing licenses issued by either Ohio or Pennsylvania are honored anywhere on the lake. When fishing from the shore, only Ohio licensed fishermen can fish from the Ohio shore and Pennsylvania licensed fishermen from the Pennsylvania shore. There is ADA accessible fishing access in the Jamestown Day Use Area and ADA accessible fishing piers at the Espyville and Linesville marinas and the Shenango River.
Swimming: Three public beaches, Linesville, Main Beach and Beach Two; and the beach for campers in Jamestown Campground are open the weekend before Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather and conditions permitting. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules.
éHunting and Firearms: About 10,300 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, rabbit, squirrel and waterfowl. The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife Management Area has controlled shooting during the annual waterfowl season. Special areas are also established for duck hunting. Public hunting is available in many areas surrounding the controlled shooting section. A propagation area comprising 2,500 acres of water provides a protected location for migratory waterfowl during their flights north and south.
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. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Disc Golfing: An 18-hole, par 66, disc golf course is located in the Jamestown Day Use Area near the park office. Score cards are available at the first and tenth hole tees along the road leading to Beach 2 and Pavilion 4. The course is set up in two loops (Front 9 and Back 9) starting and ending at Pavilion 4.
Hiking: 7 miles of trails
Tamarack Trail: 1 mile, more difficult hiking
Located along West Lake Road just past the Century Club, Tamarack Trail is named for the deciduous conifer trees that grow in the area. The trail passes through a mixed deciduous forest of black cherry, maple and tamarack trees. As the trail winds along the edge of Beaver Dam Pond, hikers catch a glimpse of great blue herons, red-tailed hawks or warblers. This loop trail connects with the Beaver Dam Trail.
This trail is a spur off the Tamarack Trail. It traverses a wetland via a walkway, connecting to a waterfowl observation deck where the quiet observer may watch for basking turtles in the pond, dragonflies and flycatchers. Trailhead is located along West Lake Road just past the Century Club.
Log Cabin Trail: 1.0 mile, more difficult hiking
To access this trail, use the Tamarack Trailhead along West Lake Road and proceed right at the Y-intersection of Tamarack Trail. Watch for trail markings (yellow blazes) on the trees.
This trail runs behind the Jamestown cabins through a forested area. Just after starting on the trail, there is a large opening in the forest to the right. The blown down trees are from a severe storm in 2012. New growth and signs of forest regeneration can be seen. After crossing Adams Road, the trail continues past the cabins. Log Cabin Trail ends at West Lake Road; however, the Camp Store Trail can be picked up by turning left and following the road approximately 100 feet before crossing the road. This trail leads to the Jamestown Campground.
Camp Store Trail: 0.5 mile, easiest hiking
The Camp Store Trail is accessed in the Jamestown Campground across from the camp store and connects with the Log Cabin Trail.
Pet Connector Trail: 0.25 mile, easiest hiking
This trail provides access from the extra car parking lot to the Log Cabin Trail, so that campers with pets do not walk through the non-pet area of the campground.
Sugar Run Trail: 1.0 mile, more difficult hiking
The trailhead begins below the dam at Shelter 1. Follow the trail across the Shenango River and turn right. This hiking and snowmobile trail runs along the beautiful tree-lined Sugar Run. Stop and listen for songbirds, relax by the small rapids and check out the large sandstone rocks lining the stream bottom and banks.
Spillway Trail: 2.5 miles, easiest hiking
The linear Spillway Trail can be accessed at either Fries Road (Linesville) or at the Spillway parking lot. This former railroad bed is now a multi-use trail that is great for walking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Summer months find yellow warblers darting along the path. Spring brings in the migrating waterfowl where numerous species of ducks, tundra swans, grebes and eagles can be seen. The sunsets along the trail are some of the best in the park.
Tell us about your hike at: explorePAtrails.com
Stay the Night
éCamping: modern restrooms with showers
There are two camping areas that are open from mid-April through mid-October. Contact the park for specific dates. All campgrounds are near swimming, boating, fishing and hiking and have a sanitary dump station. The maximum stay in all camping areas is fourteen days during the summer season and 21 days during the off-season. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
In the northern part of the park, Linesville Campground has modern facilities, including showers, flush toilets and ADA accessible campsites. About half of the campsites have electricity. Pets are permitted on selected sites.
On the south end of the Pymatuning Reservoir, Jamestown Campground has modern facilities, including showers and flush toilets. About half of the campsites have electricity. There is a boat launch, beach, camp store, amphitheater and a playground. Pets are permitted on selected sites.
éCabins: All cabins have a furnished living area, kitchen/dining area, toilet/shower room and two or three bedrooms. Kitchens include an oven, stove top, microwave oven, refrigerator and a coffee pot with basket filters. Occupants must bring linens, towels, cookware and tableware.
Twenty modern cabins located near the Jamestown Campground are available for year-round use. Cabin 20 is ADA accessible. Five ADA accessible, modern cabins by the Linesville Campground are open from mid-April to late-October.
In Jamestown, cabins 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 have two bedrooms, one with a full bed and one with two sets of single bunk beds. Cabins 4, 6 and 10 have three bedrooms, one with a full bed, one with two sets of single bunk beds and one with one set of single bunk beds. Cabins 11-20 have two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and one with two sets of single bunk beds. Cabins 1-4 are dog friendly.
Linesville cabins (21-25) have two bedrooms, one with a queen bed, and one with both a full bed and one set of single bunk beds.
Organized Group Tenting:This rustic area can serve groups up to 400 people and is in the Jamestown area.
Enjoy the Winter
Ice Fishing: Walleye, perch and crappie are often caught through the ice of the Pymatuning Reservoir.
Iceboating: Iceboating is permitted everywhere on the lake.
Snowmobiling: Fries Road Trail by Tuttle Point and the abandoned railroad grade by the spillway provide five miles of trails for snowmobiles. In the Jamestown area, there are additional trails and open fields.
Cross-country Skiing:Most open areas of the park are open to cross-country skiing.
Sledding: The slopes of the dam are good for sledding.
The Spillway located near Linesville has attracted visitors even before construction was completed. Carp that were in the Shenango River began gathering at the spillway to capture natural food that was being washed over the bowl. Over time, tourists began feeding bread to the carp and ducks that gathered there. Today, over 300,000 yearly visitors make this one of their vacation stops.
The tradition of feeding fish at the spillway is a unique exception to DCNR’s “No Feeding Wildlife” policy. Wildlife, including geese, have been attracted to this spillway bowl since it was constructed in 1934. The flow of water over the bowl provides a smorgasbord of plant material, insect larvae, crayfish and other invertebrates for waterfowl and fish to eat. In the 1930s, it was common to feed wildlife at parks and the spillway was no exception. Roadside vendors began to provide bread to feed the fish. As word of this unique area spread, it quickly became a popular tourist attraction. DCNR allows fish-feeding at the spillway because of its cultural and historical value.
Feeding wildlife may provide a few minutes of entertainment, but it can lead to serious problems for both humans and wildlife.
Follow posted rules and regulations and remember these important principles:
• Do not feed wildlife anywhere in the park with the unique exception of fish-feeding at the spillway.
• When feeding fish at the spillway, use the traditional bread or pellets, which target fish instead of ducks and geese. Do not feed fish other foods such as chips, popcorn or pastries.
• Keep areas clean of food and litter.
PA Game Commission Wildlife Learning Center:
The center houses offices for the waterfowl management area and for the land management area that includes Game Land 214. It also has a visitor center with exhibits focused on native wildlife. There is a paved interpretive walking trail that showcases the forest, lake and old farm habitats that are common at Pymatuning.
PA Fish & Boat Commission Hatchery:
Originally constructed in 1939, the Linesville Fish Culture Station (hatchery) is situated on 97 developed acres of land managed by the Fish and Boat Commission. The facility consists of earthen ponds, exterior concrete raceways, a hatchery building that contains interior stainless steel and concrete raceways, and jar and vertical flow through tray egg incubators. The hatchery building has a visitor center showing the operation of the hatchery and exploring the fish, reptiles and amphibians of Pennsylvania including a two-story aquarium featuring live Pymatuning Lake fish.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Pymatuning State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks, recreational experiences and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
Program topics include history, wildlife, plants, nature photography and outdoor recreation. Kayaking along the shores gives the visitor a close-up view of songbirds, waterfowl, eagles and glacial geology.
Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. Teacher workshops are available. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Programs are offered year-round.
For information on programs or if your group would like to schedule a program, contact the park office.
Natural areas have unique scenic, geologic or ecological value and are set aside for scientific observation and to protect outstanding examples of natural interest and beauty. Pymatuning has two natural areas in the northern part of the lake, Black Jack Swamp and Clark Island. Although there are no trails or facilities, visitors are welcome to explore the undeveloped natural areas.
Black Jack Swamp Natural Area encompasses 725 acres comprised of a mature forest of hardwoods and eastern white pines, secluded coves and narrow, shrub-lined channels. Vast wetlands protected the area from settlement, leaving it mostly untouched. The natural area provides diverse habitats for a variety of plants and animals.
At 161 acres, Clark Island Natural Area is the largest of Pymatuning State Park’s islands. With the construction of Pymatuning Reservoir in 1934, this hilltop was surrounded by water, isolating it from the adjacent land. As a result, the island is an outstanding example of an undisturbed plant community that features a mature forest of hardwoods and eastern white pines. Picturesque coves and a sheltered inland pond add to the beauty and serenity of the area.
Winter: Winter can be difficult on wildlife as food may be scarce and there are fewer hours of daylight available to find food. With the leaves gone from the trees, birds are easier to find and fresh snow can be a great place to look for tracks and signs left by animals. Waterfowl may be easier to spot as they congregate in open water on the frozen lake. Owls, eagles and woodpeckers begin courtship and nest-building during the winter months.
Spring: As the trees begin to leaf out, the warmer, longer days bring life to the world of nature. Bird, frog and toad songs can be heard throughout the day and night. Spring is the perfect time to catch glimpses of migrating birds in peak breeding plumage. Wild animals become more active while caring for their newborn young. While it is tempting to get up-close and personal with young wildlife, or assume that young animals alone have been “abandoned,” people should not interfere. Watching wildlife from a distance helps keep both people and wildlife safe.
Summer: With the added hours of daylight, there is ample time to explore the trails and shoreline of the park. Since many wildlife species take a break during the heat of the day, the best hours for wildlife observation are nearest sunrise and sunset. This is also the best time for photography. Visit the wetlands to watch dragonflies and damselflies darting through the air or glimpse a turtle basking on a log. Hummingbirds and butterflies take advantage of nectar-filled native wildflowers at the plant garden located at the Environmental Classroom. Check out the bat condo near the Jamestown cabins to watch the bats and their acrobatic flights as they chase night-flying insects.
Fall: A tree, plant or shrub that produces fruit, seeds or nuts is a great place to watch for feeding animals. As the days grow shorter and the food supply changes, the local wildlife also changes. Some birds arrive while others leave on migration. Year-round residents prepare for the arrival of winter. Late fall marks the mating season for white-tailed deer, so their activity and movement increase. A brisk walk on the trails in the crisp fall air is wonderful exercise and lets you enjoy the color explosion of autumn foliage.
Eagle Watching: Pymatuning is the only known place in Pennsylvania where bald eagles have nested continuously, even throughout the years of their population decline. Today, park visitors can spot eagles nesting and soaring over the lake throughout the year. During winter months, eagles can often be seen sitting on the ice near the dam, while in the summer months they tend to favor the northern area of the lake.
Beneath the Pymatuning Reservoir lie the remains of the Great Pymatuning Swamp. The swamp is a result of the glaciers that moved and melted in this area during the last ice advance as glacial lakes filled in with sediments and became swamps. The Shenango River flows through this ancient swamp supplying water for the Pymatuning Reservoir. The region’s glacial history can be seen in its long rounded ridges, broad upland areas and linear valleys that are often filled with natural lakes and wetlands. Black Jack Swamp Natural Area is a remnant of what was once the great Pymatuning swamp
Early inhabitants of the area included the Adena Culture, better known as the Mound Builders from 3,000 to 1,000 years ago. The Adena were known for building burial mounds and earthwork structures. It is not known what happened to these mysterious people. Beginning in 1,050 AD the Woodland Indians of the Monongahela Culture lived in small villages in this area. They grew corn, beans, squash and relied on hunting and gathering of wild foods. Most of these people had dispersed by the 1630s, before the first Europeans started to arrive.
During the 1700s, there were several Delaware Indian (Lenni Lenape) settlements along the western border of Pennsylvania. The settlement known as Pymatuning Town was located south of the present day reservoir along the bank of the upper Shenango River, known at the time as Pymatuning Creek, near the mouth of Crooked Creek and is first shown on maps as Pematuning in 1761. The name Pymatuning translates to “crooked mouth man’s dwelling place.” The settlement was abandoned in 1778 when the Delaware moved to the interior of present day Ohio.
The vast and formidable swamp discouraged overland travel and settlement. Two important events changed that. First was the Land Act by passage of the Pennsylvania legislature in 1792. The act opened all unsettled lands in northwestern Pennsylvania for sale to pay off its debt from the Revolutionary War. The second event was the signing of the 1795 treaty at Fallen Timbers between General Anthony Wayne and the Iroquois Nation. After these events, settlers began to arrive in the area.
Several land companies purchased the land and provided surveyors, roads and bridges. Most of the land in the Pymatuning area was purchased by the Pennsylvania Population Company who sold the land as 100-acre and 200-acre tracts. As a condition of purchase, the settlers were required to erect a cabin within one year and clear at least ten acres within two years. Establishing a homestead was difficult due to swampy areas, poor soils and on-going land disputes, making settlement slow.
“Every human accomplishment has its beginning in a dream.” The Honorable Gifford Pinchot, then governor of Pennsylvania, delivered these stirring words as part of his address at the Pymatuning reservoir ground breaking in 1931. Pinchot was fulfilling a Pennsylvania dream that began in 1868 when the General Assembly provided a survey and an estimate of the cost to drain the Pymatuning swamp to create farmlands. However, the swamp was not drained because it would cripple the industries downstream in the Beaver and Shenango Valleys.
A severe flood in 1913 spurred the legislature to action. The Pymatuning Act, signed the same year, appropriated $100,000 to initiate building a dam. The Pymatuning Act states that the primary purpose of the Pymatuning Reservoir shall be for the conservation of waters entering the Pymatuning Swamp and for regulating the flow of water in the Shenango and Beaver Rivers. A secondary purpose is to use the dam and lake as a reservoir to impound flood water during periods of excessive runoff from the 158 square miles of drainage area above the dam. Construction of the concrete “spillway bowl” allowed independent regulation of the 2,500-acre upper reservoir to provide optimal wildlife habitat.
It took 18 years for public and private organizations to raise the funds needed to build the dam. Work began in the fall of 1931. It took three years and almost 7,000 men to turn the dream into a reality.
The picturesque Gate House is a castle-like stone structure which allows water flow through the dam. Water enters the gatehouse through a 20-foot-wide diversion channel and travels 280 feet to the outflow conduits. This historical structure was guarded during World War II. Today, it is the site of weddings during the summer months.
Constructed at a point where the hills converged to form a narrow valley, the earthen dam extends 2,400 feet across the valley with a maximum height of 50 feet where it crosses the old Shenango River channel. The core of the dam is made of fine-grained clay, with a row of interlocking steel pilings in the center. The pilings were driven 12 to 53 feet into the bedrock.
Heavy sandstone, ranging from 18 to 36 inches thick and hauled in by train, protects the dam from pounding waves.
Leave No Trace
1. Plan ahead and prepare
• Find out about the park you’re visiting before you arrive
• Plan for a safe trip, but be ready for anything
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
• Use existing paths to travel between campsites, picnic areas, shower houses, etc.
• Park only in designated areas and obey all traffic regulations
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
The Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-332-2338. www.visitcrawford.org
The Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-637-2370. www.mercercountypa.org
For more information about Ohio State Parks, contact Pymatuning State Park, 440-293-6030.
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 is your responsibility.
• Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
• Because uncontrolled pets may chase wildlife or frighten visitors, pets must be controlled and attended at all times and on a leash, caged or crated. Pets are prohibited in swimming areas.
• Please camp only in designated areas and try to minimize your impact on the campsite.
In an Emergency
Call 911 and contact a park employee. Directions to the nearest hospital are posted on bulletin boards and at the park office.
To the South:
UPMC Horizon: Greenville
110 North Main Street
Greenville, PA 16125
To the East:
Meadville Medical Center
751 Liberty Street
Meadville, PA 16335
Pennsylvania State Parks Mission
The primary purpose of Pennsylvania state parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. In meeting these purposes, the conservation of the natural, scenic, aesthetic and historical values of parks should be given first consideration. Stewardship responsibilities should be carried out in a way that protects the natural outdoor experience for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
For More Information Contact:
Pymatuning State Park
2660 Williamsfield Road
Jamestown, PA 16134
GPS DD: Lat. 41.49937 Long. -80.46784
An Equal Opportunity Employer
Information and Reservations
Make online reservations at: www.visitPAparks.com or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, for state park information and reservations.