Last Updated on May 12, 2021 by Jeremy
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Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park is one of our favorite outdoor spots in southwest Pennsylvania. It is hard to ask for more than a beautiful lake with a number of fingers and inlets that just beg being explored.
We've featured many ways you can explore the lake including taking out kayaks from Bear Run Campground, standup paddleboarding with SurfSUP Adventures, and even enjoying Moraine State Park's bike trail which runs along the shoreline. But all of these activities required some degree of effort in order to enjoy. For something a bit more leisurely, the park offers boat tours on the resident pontoon boat from late spring to early fall.
For many years, guests would enjoy the waters via the resident boat Nautical Nature, but in 2021 the Moraine Preservation Fund launched a new pontoon boat that offers 90-minute sightseeing tours, dinner/brunch cruises, and more.
I was fortunate enough to get out on the water for the ship's inaugural sailing as part of a media preview and share more about what you can expect on this one here!
A Leisurely Tour of Lake Arthur on Preston's Pearl
Preston's Pearl is named after the late Dr. Frank W. Preston whose conservation work led to the formation of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. This group bought the land which Moraine State Park sits on, rehabilitated it, and dammed Muddy Creek to form what we now know as Lake Arthur. (More history can be found here.)
To call him the father of Moraine State Park is an understatement and guests can enjoy the culmination of the conservancy's work with the tour around Preston's Pearl.
To start, we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the boat itself. This pontoon boat is technically a houseboat that has been stripped of all of its features and made to be a sightseeing vessel inside and out. The lower deck is enclosed with seating for guests and the upper deck is open for those who want to take Lake Arthur's beauty in without obstruction.
One of my very first questions about touring Lake Arthur on Preston's Pearl had to do with the boat itself, as the lake has a limited motor horsepower requirement for vessels. My first instinct would be that a ship of this size would simply be far too slow, but as it turns out they received a special exemption to run the tours and operate the ship in such a way that it just glides on the water as efficiently as possible all the same.
All this comes together to say that you are in for one smooth ride on the water when exploring Lake Arthur on Preston's Pearl.
So, what can you see?
The 90-minute tour of the lake follow a set rotation of sights including passing an osprey nest, the aptly named Snake Island (it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what this one looks like- our photo above doesn't do it justice), and some of the lesser-visited eastern stretches of the lake to name a few. On your way out you will have a narrated tour of all of these sights and a leisurely return to the dock to enjoy the beauty of what surrounds you.
Overall, we're really excited to see a new pontoon boat out on Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park. Preston's Pearl is a gem of a ship and is the kind of tour we can see ourselves taking again and again simply as a means to get out on one of our favorite lakes in the region.
We'll see you there!
Preston's Pearl is managed by the Moraine Preservation Fund and plans to operate roughly between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. Tours will begin on weekends only but could expand to weekdays based on demand. Be on the lookout for periodic dinner and brunch cruises as well.
Looking for more to do in the area after exploring Moraine State Park? The gorgeous McConnells Mill State Park and Jennings Environmental Center are a short drive away!
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