Located on the northern edge of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, is Clear Creek State Park. While nearby Cook Forest State Park gets a lot of much-deserved attention, Clear Creek offers a peaceful respite for those looking to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Clear Creek State Park is nearly 2,000 acres in size and occupies a beautiful spot of land sandwiched between the Clarion River and Route 949/Clear Creek State Forest.
The park is most popular for its large campground and the fishing and boating access along the Clarion River. However, there are also 25 miles of hiking trails throughout the park that are perfect for those looking for an easy hike away from the crowds.
While there are longer and more difficult trails, I’ve had a chance to do two hikes in Clear Creek State Park. These offer the chance to see many of the park’s highlights while still being perfect for the whole family.
The River Trail at Clear Creek State Park
The River Trail at Clear Creek State Park is a three-quarter-mile trail that takes you along the shores of the Clarion River. While the park has several access areas for the river, this is one of the only trails that follows its shores.
The River Trail starts from the backend of the campground and requires walking past several cabins. As someone who wasn’t staying at the park, it was a bit odd driving through the campground and parking near the cabins, but this is the easiest way to access this great trail.
The River Trail is a loop that consists of a walk along the river for half of its length. In my opinion, the Clarion River is one of the most beautiful waterways in Pennsylvania, so make sure to take the time to enjoy this great stretch of trail.
After about a third of a mile, the trail turns away from the river and climbs a short, but steep hill before turning around and heading back to the trailhead through a beautiful forest.
If you only have time to hike one trail in Clear Creek State Park, make sure it’s this one.
Longer loops can be made by combining the Irish Rock Trail, Boundary Trail, and Hunter Trail.
The Clear Creek Trail Loop
Clear Creek State Park takes its name from a creek of the same name that cuts its way through the park. This beautiful stream starts east of the park in Clear Creek State Forest before flowing under Route 949 and into the park.
Near the entrance of the park, the creek is dammed to create a small lake that is great for fishing and features a small beach for swimmers. From there, it flows through the park until it meets the Clarion River.
The Clear Creek Trail Loop follows the edges of the creek and offers the chance to hike along this scenic stream and through the forests that surround the park.
An entire loop of Clear Creek would be roughly 3 miles in length, though there are several spots where the hike can be shortened using the bridges that cross the waterway.
It should be noted that while the Clear Creek Trail passes through a beautiful forest, the opposite bank consists more of walking through maintained fields and along the park’s roadways. Because of this, it might make sense to treat this more as an out-and-back hike than a loop.
You could also combine it with the Sawmill and Trudy Trail to create a beautiful loop through the forested hillsides of the park.
Overall, Clear Creek State Park is a fantastic park to visit, and I can’t wait to hike even more of its trails. While nearby Cook Forest State Park, the Paved Trail, and Beartown Rocks get more attention, this is a great place to base yourself while staying at the park’s campgrounds and cabins or to simply visit to enjoy its beauty.