Every summer, my family takes a trip up to Raymond B. Winter State Park, located in central Pennsylvania. This year was particularly special since my Pap celebrated his 90th birthday this July! He and my Nana always enjoy going up to R.B. Winter to spend the day in nature with their family.
From little on up, we have referred to this park as Halfway Dam. This is because the lake at the park, Halfway Lake, was created by building a dam. Therefore, Halfway Dam!
This park has so much to offer! And it has come so far since I was a kid! I still remember needing to use the restroom as a child. The toilets were just deep holes in the ground with a toilet and seat over it. The floor was always covered in gritty sand and the smell..oh the smell! It was awful and it’s one of those smells that you never forget. However, their bathrooms are quite nice now! They have normal flush toilets and running water to the sinks.
Scattered throughout the park are picnic tables and charcoal grills. There is a specific spot overlooking the lake that has a small pavilion, several picnic tables, a bathroom, and a parking lot close by that we try to get every time we go.
It is amazing how much cooler it is in the trees than on the beach! At one point during our day trip, I even considered the thought of being chilly! (A thought that has not crossed my mind often this summer!). Once the afternoon rolled around, we could tell that the outside air was warming up, but it was still quite nice in the shady wooded area.
There are a few miles of hiking trails throughout this park. To be completely honest, I haven’t explored many of them. (Here is a map of hiking trails.) We usually walk around the lake after eating too many picnic foods to help aid digestion! There are a few pavilions available for rental behind the beach, a snack bar, and a nature center deeper in the woods. We usually take a walk back there, look at the critters, and then mosey back across the creek to our picnic tables. By then, it’s usually about time for a bowl of Middleswarth barbecue chips.
There are also special events going on a lot of the time at not just R.B. Winter, but many of Pennsylvania’s state parks. If you’ve got a State Park close to you, check their calendar of events for fun and educational activities!
During the winter, R.B. Winter has a festival where people can come try out snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. My mom wanted to try cross-country skiing for years, and thanks to this event, she finally had the opportunity! Turns out, she likes snowshoeing better, but that’s besides the point.
Campsites are located in a loop on one side of the park. We’ve never gone camping there, but some years we take a walk around the campsites. You can find a campsite map here.
Honestly, since we live relatively close (in the grand scheme of things), the biggest draw for us is the beach and picnics. The water, however, is always very, very cold. The lake is fed by mountain springs. Which, if you are fortunate enough to have springs near you for drinking water, you know that the water tastes delicious, but is very crisp and cold coming out of the ground! Most kids don’t even bat an eye at the water temperature. They are just happy to be slopping around and swimming. For adults, however, it may be a little more daunting! Just brace yourself and take the plunge!
On our way to and from the park, we also pass the significantly smaller Sand Bridge State Park. We have never stopped, but it appears to simply be a few picnic tables and maybe a primitive bathroom.
Plus, on out way home there happens to be a fantastic ice cream shop called the Purple Cow. Naturally, we had to stop there on the way home!
I love our summer trips to R.B. Winter. It is so much fun to get to hang out in nature with our family!
If you’d like to read about some other PA State Parks, here are a few others I’ve visited:
Have you ever been to R.B. Winter State Park? Do you a have a favorite activity there?If you have any photos of R.B. Winter State Park, feel free to share them on Instagram or Twitter using #stateparkblog.