I live in Hershey, PA and was looking for a nearby place to make an unplanned day trip. Gifford Pinchot State Park was a very pleasant surprise, and absolutely worth the trip.
I put in at boat launch #3, which is on the opposite bank of #2. I recommend using one of these launches if you're not sure how long of a trip you're going to be taking, as they are fairly close to being halfway from either end of the lake. Launch #1 is at the very western side of the lake. There are no gas powered boats allowed, so I ran into plenty of fishermen on my trip, but no speedboats.
The weather was perfect, sunny and about 80 degrees, and the water was very warm, perfect for a dip if one felt so inclined. The lake is rather large (384 acres), and calm, although in the larger open area, near the beach, it was pretty windy. That was where I ran into most of the sailboat traffic.
If you're looking for a quiet place to boat or fish, I suggest coming here in the early morning or evening, as the sounds from people on the beach could be quite loud at times. The scenery is beautiful, in the middle of the woods.
A trip around the whole lake probably takes 2-3 hours, depending on how fast you're going and how windy it is. I made it about 3/4 of the way around, but was forced to stop due to my inability to ignore the blisters spreading on my hands.
All in all, this was a great place to kayak, and I highly recommend it for an easy day trip or for fishing.
I didn't actually go in and check out any of these facilities for myself, but there are camping grounds, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboats for rent, a beach and swimming area, and three main put in areas for boats. There are also picnicking areas, hiking and horse trails, an overlook, bathrooms and phones. Everything looked well kept from my view on the lake.
No fees for boating, but there are fees for campgrounds and boat rentals. 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.
**Electric motors only on the lake.**
I live near Harrisburg, so I took I-83S to exit 32, Newberryton, made a right onto 382, then a left approx. 3.5 ml down the road onto 177. There are signs on 177 for the park.
I'd use the DNCR website, they have all the information you need (including a great map of the park) as well as directions.
- Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water