The End of Our 2018 Pennsylvania Summer Travels


We only had about 80 miles to go from Cook Forest to Black Moshannon. See all the green – those are more state and national forests. We would have loved to visit each place.

We are a bit behind in our blogging-it’s been over a month since our last post! Hopefully, I can still do justice to our last two stops in our wonderful Pennsylvania summer travels.

We arrived at our next stop, Black Moshannon State Park, on Father’s Day. We were there for eight days. We were able to attend church at Cook Forest before we hit the road since we weren’t going far. Check-in (and out) time in the Pennsylvania State Forest Campgrounds is 3:00 pm. Our trip was only 80 miles and took us just over two hours since we also fueled up. We couldn’t rush out so it was great  to attend a worship service church at the campground – and then fellowship a little with some of the attendees.

We prefer to not travel on Sundays, let alone a holiday. But it doesn’t seem like Father’s Day puts as many people on the road as Mother’s Day. Wonder why? One thing we learned here in Pennsylvania – and it does seem to be common in many other state and federal campgrounds – they book up on Friday and Saturday nights. You have to book ahead unless you don’t mind changing sites or just going Sunday – Friday. We arrived there, near State College, Pennsylvania around 1:30 pm. Our site wasn’t vacated until about 2:30. We found this to be a somewhat common occurrence. One of the best things about this  State Park/Campground were the Rangers and staff. They were the best we have come across in all of our travels! When we were trying to book our stay, we didn’t realize the site we picked, which was a full hook up site, was listed as 30 foot. We have a 40 foot rig. We found it hard to believe so we called the office and asked about the size. A Ranger offered to go measure it for us! The great news was that we would fit. It was an error on the website, but he warned us it might be a bit tight leaving due to two trees. No problem Bill said, he’s nearly a pro at getting in and out of tight spaces after five years! (Yep we are hitting our 5th anniversary!

It was pretty easy to get into our site. But here is us leaving. Here are the two trees Bill had to squeeze out of! No problem, but I was holding my breath!!!

And then the day we left Black Moshannon, I thought I must have dropped my car keys on the road where we hooked the car up. It was the last time I used them. I realized they were missing was two hours later at our next stop. I called back to the office and a staff member went out and looked for them for us. How nice! When they couldn’t find them, I had to search my memory. Then I realized I had worn a jacket that morning as it was a bit chilly – and there were my keys in the pocket. Oops. Best staff!

Our trip from Cook Forest to Black Moshannon State Park was about 80 miles and if driving a car, would have been 1 1/2 hour drive. We stopped for fuel and we don’t drive fast since we are towing our car. Usually 60-65 mph.

Here is a slide show of our exciting drive to the campground and our site, which was a bit challenging:

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We came for the hiking – hikes from our campsite.  Let’s look at what the website says to see what attracted us here:

Black Moshannon State Park covers 3,394 acres of forests and wetlands that provide recreational opportunities for thousands of visitors. The park conserves unique, natural environments and is in Centre County on PA 504, nine miles east of Philipsburg. More than 43,000 acres of the Moshannon State Forest surround the park and help create a remote and wild setting. According to local tradition, American Indians called this watershed Moss-Hanne, meaning moose stream, thus the origin of the park name. Appropriately, the black in the park name describes the tea-colored waters. The 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake is fed by clear springs and small streams which flow through the bogs that stretch in most directions from its shores. As the clear water flows through sphagnum moss and other wetland plants, it becomes colored by plant tannins. In a sense, the bog vegetation acts like a giant teabag to color the water.”

This is the highest point in the State Park from the Ski Slope Trail. Our elevation climb was 446 feet. It was a four plus mile hike for us from our campground to and from.

There were plenty of hiking trails we could hit right from our campsite. That was what we aimed for.  If you are a hiker, here is the best place to see all the hikes in the area. We limited ourselves to doing those hikes starting at our campsite. Click on the picture to go to the actual website for more details.

The selection of trails right in the park went up to 13.3 miles if you didn’t mind the bogs and mosquitos. We managed to avoid them but still got in some long hikes.

We got in some great workouts here. We logged in almost 33 miles of hiking and almost 2 1/2 miles of kayaking. But truth be known, it got a little boring! The elevation wasn’t that great and the hikes weren’t that challenging. We did plan to do the most challenging hike, the Moss-Hanne Trail at 7.7 but it went through the bog and we had two days of heavy rain. So we knew we’d be in some mud and bugs. Here are a few pictures from our hikes – we did repeat some while here.

We didn’t expect to see Kayaking here, so that was a plus! A few years ago, I was not able to walk much due to knee issues. I needed some sort of fitness program. My orthopedic doctor suggested Kayaking. We just didn’t feel comfortable with that in Florida. You know, all the alligators. I joined the YMCA and began swimming which helped. But the desire was there! So we finally tried Kayaking in Black Water State Park in March 2015. It was a great experience, almost like floating on silk! Then we tried Kayaking in our last campground, Cook Forest. Let’s just say we thought the wind made it a really rough experience. (It was!) We did set out for a 10 mile kayak trip – maybe too much for rookies! It took us about four hours and we couldn’t wait to dock! So the kayaking here looked calm and short. We could go on a hourly basis. We decided to check the weather and picked a calm day after a few days of hiking. Here are a few pictures from that fun:

Bill is taking off! That’s the Kayak and Canoe Shack. The campground is nestled in the trees across the road and behind the Shack.

Bill snapped a photo of me trying to use good form. Doesn’t the water look a bit choppy? My form began to slack!

Bill snapped this picture of the Beaver Dam. Can you see it? The water is a bit choppy here, too.

Ah, the water is nice and smooth finally! Beautiful day!

Yes, smooth here, too. But we decided to just keep this to an hour outing. The choppy water returned for our return trip!

One day, it looked like heavy rain, so we found an indoor activity. We visited the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum nearby. We really enjoyed it and enjoyed being with only one other couple for the tour. The Docent was very good, a long term volunteer. We always enjoy mansion tours and this one was unique in a positive way! And the Columbus Chapel was really amazing to see such a priceless treasure! Yes, priceless because much of it was one of a kind and could never be replaced!

The Boal Estate has been the Boal family home for over 200 years, and tells the story of America as seen through eight generations of one family. The Mansion has the original furnishings, artwork, and artifacts belonging to family members.

The fourth generation, Colonel Theodore Davis Boal, called Terry, went to Europe in the 1890’s and married Mathilde, a descendent of Christopher Columbus, who inherited the Columbus Chapel and brought it to Boalsburg in 1909.

The Tour Consists of:

  • the Boal Mansion, home of eight generations of the Boal family for over 200 years with the original furnishings
  • the Columbus Chapel, a centuries-old chapel of the Columbus family imported from Spain in 1909 containing fine European art and two pieces of the True Cross of Jesus.
  • Feel free to walk about the grounds, which include an active barn theater company

Daily Admission Prices are $10 for adults, $6 for children 6-17 years old. Children under 6 are free, and free for Active Military and Museum Members.

Here are a few pictures of our time there. Note, it didn’t rain after all!

Entrance to the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion.

This is the Visitor Center.

This is the back side of the mansion. We needed to get out of our car when we left to get a picture of the front side – we just didn’t do it!

Bill and the Docent walking to the Columbus Chapel.

The drive back to the park – isn’t it amazing? I love the terrain!

If you would like to see inside, here is the link to view three short virtual tours. It was very educational and interesting. There was a play that evening but we weren’t prepared to be there during dinner. Had we known, we would have gone later so we could try to watch it as well.

Another great blessing here was the fact they had a worship service right at the park on Sunday! The “preacher” was a young man, father of 6 children (or was it 8?) who has been doing it for more years than he can count. Most of his family attended and participated in the service.

Church in the Park! There is noting like worshipping in the great outdoors! The Pastor’s son ran the sound, clear to the left and not visible. He spotted the deer so we all had to go look as the service ended!

Here’s little Bambi who snuck up at the front of the church service amphitheater to join us as we were worshipping!

That ended our time in Black Moshannon State Park. We had a great time but we kept thinking how much more we enjoyed Cook Forest State Park – except for the fact we had to change sites three times. We found a private campground we will stay in if and when we return.

We actually left two days open for our return back to Virginia. Had we liked it here as much as Cook Forest, we would have stayed those two extra days. That would have made a long drive to Virginia and we really were ready to roll! We decided to try our another State Park – after all, all eight state parks/forests had been beautiful. The weather was perfect (except for one day of a downpour) and the bugs were nearly non-existent! Amazing!

We looked into staying in Little Buffalo State Park for our remaining three days/two nights. It was on our route but then it was actually was closed one of the two days. Go figure! We decided we would just play it safe and return to Walmar Acres Campground, where we started! After all, the price was right since it was a Passport America and was full hook up. We left some areas on the table for a possible return. So return we did!

We decided to try out Gifford Pinchot State Park for hiking while here. Wouldn’t you know it, they also had kayaking on the lake – so we contemplated it. Bill wasn’t sure about this park when we stayed here the first time. We are glad we tried it and we got in two great hikes – but the trail had its issues – mud! And then Pam of Oh, Places They Go! (she is from the area) saw we were there via Facebook. She sent us a warning the lake has been known to be contaminated. So that ruled out any hope of another attempt at kayaking! Here are a few pictures from our two hikes:

We missed the poorly marked Park Entrance and landed here at the Park Office. It was worth seeing.

We debated about using our hiking poles. Bill said yes I said no. We were sorry we didn’t have them! Bill was trying to decide if he should run back to the car to get them….

The trail seemed so easy….but it had it moments. A number of very muddy spots and the trail signs weren’t in abundance!

We are near the end of the trail on this side of the lake. Nice view we had – so inviting but no kayaking for us after all!

There we some interesting boulders along the trail and side of the lake.

These are our stats from our first day hiking in Gifford Pinchot State Park. It was a bit more challenging than we had imagined!

The trailhead was across the street from the designated parking.

The trail looked so promising! We wanted to go for seven miles. This would be a piece of cake….

Oh no, we are back in mud!

This park is in some low lying areas! Nice stream alongside the trail.

If only the entire trail had some gravel/rock in those muddy places. That would have made it so much better!

We aimed for seven miles but this wasn’t bad. The muddy places took away from our enjoyment but at least we had our poles to help us balance as we tiptoed around to not muddy up our hiking boots.

Our drive back to Virginia took only took four hours – we had to fuel up and we made one wrong turn. Bill had to relive that almost nightmare the other day with our son-in-law! We’re not sure what happened but we ended up in the sweet little town of Leesburg, Virginia. Our GPS started dinging at us again, somehow we got on another weight limited road! In spite of those few times we were on roads that not rated for our weight, we really enjoyed our two months in Pennsylvania. We hope to do it again and get up to New York and eventually Maine!

This ends our summer travels in our motor home. Normally, we would have spent three months in Pennsylvania and perhaps to New York, something else came up.  We are blessed to have a safe place to leave our motor home in Fredericksburg. We flew to Sacramento to attend a family wedding. Hopefully, we will write-up about that fabulous week and then a bit about our two months near our grandsons! Be sure to visit and like our FaceBook page so you can stay more current with our adventures!

6 thoughts on “The End of Our 2018 Pennsylvania Summer Travels

  1. Fantastic experience. You must be in great physical shape to do this kind of thing. Amazing that you knee recovered so well. Praise God for his goodness! Yes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen and amen!!! I was told I had a partial knee replacement in my near future. That was 10 years ago! If I don’t get in a walk or hike daily (we do take one day a week off), my knees gets grouchy. Lol
      Thanks for reading and commenting. This was too long but Bill said these posts are really for us to remember what we did! I’d love to get them converted into a picture book one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You found some great places to explore in Pennsylvania. I admire you for sticking to your goal of hiking daily.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m just now seeing your comment. Somehow, wordpress got “spammed” so I am missing a lot of other blogs, but now I see I’m missing comments. 🙁
      My husband is determined to reverse his heart disease and it looks like he is winning that battle! It’s full speed a head and I’m grateful as it is as good for me as it is him. We need to do an update….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So fun to see your part of the country. Sounds like a terrific trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so lush which usually means bugs and mud! We only hit the bug infested areas a few times and we were prepared. And amazingly only hit mud in two parks. What a great time we had!

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