Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Gardners, PA

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There are a few things in the world that instantly take you back to “the good ole days” when you were younger and everything was perfect and happy and wonderful. I’ve literally been going to Pine Grove Furnace for over 25 years for the first day of trout season in PA and almost as long for a weekend in October. When we wouldn’t camp, we would go up to Laurel Lake and play in the sand and swim in the frigid waters to cool off in the summer taking a picnic lunch and spending the day. To say it is my first love would be completely accurate.

This place brings me peace, calmness and restores my soul. Seriously.

Sites (Gravel, fairly level)

The sites generally do have some space and wooded area between them. There are a few that are pretty tight to each other. We have always shot for the sites on the backside of the campground (68-74 with 74 being our favorite). Not all sites have electric and only one has 50amp service. No sites have water or sewer. There are water pumps throughout the park. There is a dump station on the way out.

All sites have a gravel pad – most are in a “L” shape and are fairly level. Most sites have areas in the woods where you can pitch a tent; those that don’t have a tent pad in the more hilly areas.

Most sites are back-ins, but there are a few pull-throughs.

Favorite sites/site comments:

  • Site #74 is the best site in the park if you don’t need/want electricity
  • Sites #71 and #72 make sort of a “flag”/”L” shape and would be good for 2 parties camping together
  • Sites #67 and #16 are nice pull-throughs (both have the shared water hookups next to them for convenient filling of water tanks)
  • Site #68 and #69 are on a nice secluded corner
  • Site #19 is incredibly deep, but you have a lot of foot traffic headed to the overflow parking area

Big Rig Friendly? (No*)

* I wouldn’t have thought so. I did talk to an owner of a 41′ 3″ toy hauler fifth wheel who said that he can make it around. Depending on where his site is, he’ll come into the main entrance and make the immediate right. OR, he’ll come in the exit and no one has hassled him yet about it. I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I’m prepared to take my big rig there.

Bathrooms and Showers (Clean, push button showers)

The bath houses are relatively new in the past 5 years or so, maybe a little longer. There are 2 bathhouses – one is pretty centrally located and the other is towards the front end. The one up towards the front also has showers. The showers are the push button for 30 seconds-1 minute of water type with no temperature control. I haven’t used the showers yet (nothing like a good grungy of no-showering weekend). This bathroom has hot water, the other does not.

The bathrooms are generally clean and decent (especially remembering the pit toilets that they replaced).

Amenities (Very little – woods and trails)

It’s a campground and that’s it – miles of trails, lots of woods to check out and presentations at the amphitheater. Comparing it against RV parks – there is no pool, playgrounds, etc. It was a big adjustment for my 9 year old- but, she had fun anyway!

There are 2 lakes a few miles away (swimming, boat rental, concession stand). There is fishing within walking distance if you’re after native trout or a stocked lake and stream within a few miles. As well, the Appalachian Trail runs past here and you’re not far from the midway point. There are other trails (the Pole Steeple trail has some amazing views and isn’t too hard of a climb). Biking is good- there is a rail trail for a few miles near the campground. Read more at the PA website.

Cell Phone Service (Extremely limited)

Spotty, at best. I found that my iPhone 4 would occasionally work for texts if it was laying flat and even then it depended on where in the site/campground I was. It’s heavenly to get there and to turn the phone off. Though, if you need to make a call – some have luck or, do like I do, and make a right out of the campground and drive up onto the mountaintop.

Over-the-air TV Service (Never used)

No idea, never tried- my theory is that it’ll be pretty limited. I doubt satellite would work, either.

Camp Store (Very limited selection)

The camp store is just outside of the park and carries very little. It’s a great stop for ice cream and does the 1/2 gallon challenge. More times than not, we’ll drive down to Mountain Creek Campground to it’s store if we need anything or even the whole way to Carlisle to it’s Walmart.

Overall Rating/Comments (5 out of 5 stars for me)

As I started, this brings up all of my childhood goodness whenever I go here – so for me, it’s a 5 out of 5 even though the last time I went, I couldn’t take the RV and ended up tent camping. It is the epitome of “camping” vs. “RVing”. It’s a no-frills park with limited amenities. If fishing, hiking, bike riding or even hunting are your idea of fun- this is a perfect place.

Website/Address

PA DCNR – Pine Grove Furnace State Park
1096 Pine Grove Rd
Gardners, PA 17324

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