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The Whipple Lake Trail at Whipple Dam State Park

The Whipple Lake Trail is a great trail for hiking after work or on a weekend picnic get-away. Being just a bit over 2 miles in length, this trail is a great hike to do with kids. The trail is relatively flat, follows the banks of the Laurel Run Stream, and affords many views of the lake from many vantage points. It is also a good hike to do after a picnic lunch while visiting the State Park.

Trailhead: N 40° 41.08'
W 77° 51.82'
Total Elevation: 288'
Trail Length: 2.2 miles
Hike Time: 1.5 hours
Hike Type: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 28
Near: Whipple Dam State Park
State Park

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Parking anywhere within the State Park would be a good location for the trailhead for this hike. The trailhead proper (signed trailhead) is located at the eastern most section of the trail, just off the south shore of the lake. To get to the Whipple Dam State Park, head south on route PA26 from State College. After descending Tussey mountain, continue south on route PA26 for approximately 1.5 miles. Here, turn left onto the Whipple Dam road. Follow the signs to the state park for about a mile and then turn left into the state park proper. The first right once entering the state park will take you to the beach and picnic areas on the south side of the lake: a great place to start this hike.

This was an after-work hike and we had a pretty good turn out. We met at the parking area near the lake beach. There are plenty of places to have picnics here, and when combined with this hike, makes for a great family outing. At the eastern most end of the parking area is the sign for the Whipple Lake Trail. The sign states that the trail is 3 miles in length, but in actuality it is just a bit over 2 miles.

Once you get on the trail proper, you will find the tread is composed of crushed limestone. There are also bridges which cross wet sections early on in the hike. However, as you continue to hike the limestone trail disappears and is replaced with packed dirt. It is wet in sections, and depending on the time of year you decide to hike the trail, I am sure it could get quite muddy. Proper footwear is recommended for the wetter times.

There has been some rerouting of the trail to avoid the wetter areas. At about 0.7 miles the trail is routed a bit further south, on the edge of a depression near the stream. This removes a large section of wet and muddy trail and replaces it with a much drier tread for this section of the trail.

The trail follows the southern banks of Laurel Run as it heads east. At about 0.8 mile into the hike you will cross Laurel Run on a well-built bridge. A short distance after crossing the bridge the trail climbs steeply towards Beidler Road. The trail makes a sharp left around 0.9 miles into the hike. There is a new dug trail here that keeps you off the Beidler Road. After a short bit of dug trail you will soon be on the original trail as it begins to follow the ridge top.

As you hike across the ridge line, the trail makes a gradual ascent. At 1.3 miles into the hike the climb stops as the trail levels out. You will see a dirt road which gradually approaches from your right. The trail merges with the road at about 1.5 miles into the hike. After a short distance the trail bears off to the left and you descend towards the lake.

At 1.7 miles the trail meets back up with the lake, almost directly across from where the trail proper starts. Here you want to turn right and continue following the trail as it heads out onto a small peninsula that juts out into the lake. There is a picnic area here, along with some nice views of the lake. Our group of hikers paused here to enjoy the view. Our parked cars could be seen on the other side of the lake. I stated that this was the end of our hike and that we had to swim across to reach our cars. Unfortunately no one bit at my proposition, so I had to confess that the trail does continue on around the lake and that swimming was not required.

Turning right here, about 1.8 miles into the hike, you will descend to another picnic pavilion and parking area. From here you will be following the paved road back to the trailhead.

At 2 miles into the hike you will cross the spillway of the dam. Just a short distance past the spillway, turn left and you'll find yourself back at the swimming area of the lake and the start of this hike.

This hike is ideal for kids as their is very little elevation change and it isn't too long. Throw in the lake for swimming opportunities or fishing, and plenty of picnic tables for a family picnic, and this hike is a great way to spend quality time outdoors with the family.

The start of this hike.

Laurel Run flows towards the lake at Whipple Dam.

A wetter section of the trail that we had to cross on upturned logs.

The newly dug trail as the trail climbs away from the stream.

A view across the lake towards the parking area.

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  • I’ll be back in the area from Pittsburgh next week for a funeral and would like to take My children swimming at a lake where I grew up I hope you will be open

    Jesse Wyland on

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