Located in scenic Tioga County in the Pine Creek Valley and PA Grand Canyon landscape of the PA Wilds, the 407-acre Hills Creek State Park abounds in wildlife and beautiful sights. However, unlike some other state parks that feature views looking down into the Pine Creek Valley, this state park’s vistas show you the beauty from the bottom of the valley and allow you to look up at the hillsides that surround you. The park sits within the valley, with hillsides enveloping Hills Creek and Hills Creek Lake.
Love birdwatching? Osprey, loon, and waterfowl visit the lake to snack on the abundant warm-water fish species. Wood duck and great blue heron can often also be seen in and around the waters of Hills Creek Lake. Birds of prey, including bald eagles, can be spotted with a keen eye toward the skies above the lake. You may even spy a pileated woodpecker. Hills Creek State Park also happens to be a stop for many migrating waterfowl, including the loon and merganser.
Hills Creek Lake is classified as a warm water fishery. The waters are the home to many species of fish, including walleye, yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and muskellunge. Anglers have reeled in some largemouth bass that weighed in at over eight pounds!
Although the lake is dammed by human technology now, beavers used to dam up the lake too. Beavers can still be seen in abundance at Hills Creek State Park, and you may be able to spot an active beaver colony near the shore.
Like anywhere in the PA Wilds, be on the alert from wildlife and keep your distance. In addition to the beaver colony, guests at Hills Creek State Park often spot muskrat, turkey, white-tailed deer, rabbits, groundhogs and black bear. Use caution and store your food appropriately.
The sandy beach at Hills Creek State Park is open from around Memorial Day until just after Labor Day. A bathhouse and snack bar are also typically open for the public during the summer months. Be aware, there are no lifeguards at the beach. Swim at your own risk and use safe practices at all times.
For boats, be aware that gas powered motors are prohibited on Hills Creek Lake. Motorized boats must be powered by electric motors only. However, sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are welcome and permitted on the lake. All boats must be properly registered with the state.
There are two picnic areas, complete with tables, charcoal grills, pavilions, drinking fountains and modern comfort stations. There are three reservable picnic pavilions, which can be reserved for a fee up to 11 months in advance. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Take a hike while you’re at Hills Creek State Park! If your family is looking for a kid-friendly or easier trail, try the 1.5-mile Tauschers Trail (a connector trail) that goes through a wildflower field or the short 1-mile Yellow Birch Trail (a loop trail) that takes you through both hardwood forests and marshy swamps with plenty of wildlife. If you’re hoping for more of a challenge, try the 3-mile Lake Side Trail (a loop trail) that follows the shore line of Hills Creek Lake or the famous Mid-State Trail (327 miles total, but 1.5 miles within the park itself).
Hills Creek State Park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk.
Stay the night at Hills Creek State Park and see the beauty of both the sunrise and the sunset along the park’s hillsides. The park has a 102-site camping area, ranging from grassy areas to forested areas with immense hemlock trees. All of the campsites are within walking distance to amenities such as warm showers (a camper’s delight!), restrooms and water fountains.
There are also cottages, cabins and yurts that are available to rent. While each of these rentable spaces have electricity and beds, the amenities differ between which structure you decide to stay in. These cottages, cabins and yurts are perfect for families who want to camp while still having some of the comforts of home!
Campsites, cottages, cabins and yurts can all be reserved on a seasonal basis at the DCNR state park reservation website.
Want to remember your journey to the PA Grand Canyon with something designed or handcrafted by a PA Wilds artisan? While you’re at Hills Creek State Park during summer 2023, check out the PA Wilds Conservation mobile unit, which has PA Wilds and PA Grand Canyon themed stickers, magnets, t-shirts, books, ceramics and more! The PA Wilds Conservation Shop mobile unit will close at Hills Creek on August 26, 2023.
The Center’s PA Wilds Conservation Shops are mission-driven gift shops that improve market access for rural entrepreneurs by sourcing 90 percent of their inventory from rural makers and businesses in the 13-county PA Wilds.
The mobile unit was temporarily relocated from its typical location at Leonard Harrison State Park, due to ongoing renovations at the park. The new location for the PA Wilds Conservation Shop mobile unit is 111 Spillway Road, Wellsboro, PA 16901 at Hills Creek State Park. Shop hours will remain the same as they were before, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. The shop can easily be reached within Hills Creek State Park day use area, next to the concession stand. The PA Wilds Conservation Shop mobile unit will close at Hills Creek on August 26, 2023.