Encircling the lake at Whipple Dam State Park is the Whipple Lake Trail. 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'
|Trail Length:||2.2 miles|
|Hike Time:||1.5 hours|
|Near:||Whipple Dam State Park.|
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.
We started our hike by parking near the lake swimming area. 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.
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 to Beidler Road. At 0.9 miles you then make a sharp left off the road and onto the 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. 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 outdoors time with the family.