Moraine State Park – A Perfect Day Trip

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on February 7, 2023.

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The 16,725-acre Moraine State Park is one of the largest parks in western Pennsylvania and is located approximately 40 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.

With land and water activities aplenty, this park is one of the crown jewels in the region and should be on everyone's radar when looking for a great park to visit on a day trip!

What You Can See at Moraine State Park

Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park

The crown jewel of Moraine State Park is Lake Arthur, which spans over 3,000 acres inside the park. As such, the most popular activities to experience in this park revolve around water activities and include boating (tours on Preston's Pearl are awesome), swimming, fishing, windsurfing, and ice skating in the winter to name a few.

For those who like to stick to land, the park is home to 28 miles of hiking trails, seven miles of biking trails, six miles of mountain biking trails, a large disc golf course, 20 miles of horseback riding trails, and so much more.

Hiking Trails at Moraine State Park

On our most recent exploration of the park we visited the South Shore of Lake Arthur to explore several of the popular hiking trails.  The sights visible from these trails range from many varieties of trees (it felt like we were switching forests at times with how drastic the scenery changes- a personal favorite), bird watching, and enjoying vistas of the lake itself.

As a result of its size, Moraine State Park is one of those places you can visit dozens of times and not see it all- one of the many reasons it is quickly becoming one of our favorite parks in western Pennsylvania.

Hiking at Moraine State Park

Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania

When it comes to the hiking trails at Moraine State Park, you have numerous options thanks to the park's impressive 28 miles of trails.

The bulk of the hiking at the park is split up between the South Shore and the North Shore of the lake. Picking one side of the lake to visit for a half-day / full-day hike will give you anywhere from 1.5 to 8+ miles of hiking opportunities, which we found to be ideal for us during our recent visit to the South Shore.

Signage at Moraine State Park - Not That Great

The trails at Moraine State Park are fairly well maintained; however, do not be surprised if some paths have tall grass that could be home to ticks or other insects (there are warning signs regarding these) which may an extra concern for dog owners.

The trails also have limited markings and directions, and although they are fairly easy to stumble upon and enjoy as many miles as you like, it would be in your best interest to stop at the ranger's station and pick up a map before departing for your hikes. We personally found these maps to be quite helpful, but they also do not feature every trail and we did get switched a few times thinking we were on the right trail when we in fact were not.

Ranger's Station at Moraine State Park

One final point worth noting about the trails is that the paths nearest to the lake, especially the Sunken Garden Trail in the South Shore region, can be quite muddy. Even though it hadn't rained for a few days prior to our hike we had to abandon our plans to explore this particular trail due to excessive mud (but the views of the lake are incredible if you can endure it!).

Overall, Moraine State Park is one of the finest parks in western Pennsylvania and should be on everyone's radar for a half-day or full-day trip out of Pittsburgh. You may need to return three or four times to check out every trail (and even more for every activity that is available), and that is one of the reasons this massive park is near and dear to our hearts.

Spring Flowers at Moraine State Park

Moraine State Park is located approximately 40 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh just off the Portersville Road / 488 exit of I-79.  Signs to the North and South Shores of the park are plentiful after exiting the highway.  Download a digital copy of the park map here.

Moraine State Park is also one of the features in the amazing book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Pittsburgh Edition” that we are working through as a part of this series.   If you are interested in day hikes near the city we highly recommend picking this one up!

Want to get out on the water at Moraine State Park? Check out stand up paddleboarding with SurfSUP Adventures. Or, if you need a place to stay nearby, check out Bear Run Campground!

For more hiking north of Pittsburgh, check out McConnells Mill State Park, Hartwood Acres, or Fall Run Park, and stop at Harmony Inn on your way back for a beer from North Country Brewing!

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