Pennsylvania is home to some incredible state parks that are known both near and far. However, I also enjoy checking out the smaller and lesser-known state parks like Shikellamy State Park.
The park is actually split into two parts, the Shikellamy Overlook and the Shikellamy Marina, both located within sight of each other at the confluence of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and the North Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Both parts of the park offer interesting attractions for visitors, though most out-of-town visitors will find more to enjoy at the overlook, which is the park’s defining feature. That being said, both parts of the park are interesting to explore.
The Shikellamy Overlook is located in the older part of Shikellamy State Park, which was formed with this piece of land in 1960.
This part of the park is located high atop a bluff on the western side of the river in Union County, Pennsylvania. This bluff overlooks Northumberland, PA, (home of the Joseph Priestley House) and provides incredible views of both the town and the confluence of the two branches of the Susquehanna River from over 350 feet above the water.
It is said that this bluff is near the location of a Native American village where Iroquois Chief Shikellamy lived in the 18th century. And, while this history doesn’t appear to be highlighted anywhere in the park, I still found it to be an interesting tidbit.
The highlight of this 78-acre parcel is the incredible view from the edge of the cliff. There are several viewing areas that you can drive to within feet of, or you can opt to park and walk a third of a mile along the Deer Trail on the cliff’s edge to fully enjoy this vantage point.
At the far end of the park, there is a picnic table that has one of the best views of any table in Pennsylvania.
In addition to the views, this area of the park also features 1.7 miles of trails, with the Deer Trail making a loop of this land and offering great forest views in addition to the portion along the cliff’s edge. That being said, I’ve yet to hike this trail away from the cliff, so I, unfortunately, can’t comment on it.
You’ll also find a few pavilions and a playground in this section of the park.
It’s worth noting that this portion of the park closes in the winter season due to the steep road required to reach the overlook. The closing and opening dates seem to vary a bit each year based on the weather, but expect it to be closed, at a minimum from December through March most years.
Getting to the Shikellamy Overlook
The Shikellamy Overlook is located on the western banks of the Susquehanna River just off of Route 11. The entrance can be found along County Line Road at the following coordinates: 40.879143, -76.804002.
County Line Road connects to both Route 11 and Route 15, making it fairly easy to reach this portion of the park from either of these roadways.
From the park entrance, the road climbs steeply uphill before leveling off and passing several great viewing areas and the park’s other attractions.
The Shikellamy Marina is located across the river from the overlook on a small island in the North Branch of the Susquehanna River at its confluence with the West Branch. It is located between the communities of Northumberland and Sunbury and takes up the southwestern corner of Packers Island.
While it’s known as the Shikellamy Marina, it’s not just a boat docking area. Visitors can also walk the paths and check out great views of the river, as well as launching boats from this portion of the park.
Visitors will also find a seasonal butterfly garden and picnic tables around the park.
While, in my opinion, the main draw for Shikellamy State Park, especially for out-of-town visitors, is the overlook, the marina is a great spot to get a closer look at the river. Of course, you can also fish or boat from the island, as well.
Another interesting feature is located just downstream of the park: the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam.
This is an inflatable dam that is set up in the warmer months of the year and is said to be the longest inflatable dam in the world. When it is in use, it creates an area known as Lake Agusta around the park which is perfect for boating.
While the park doesn’t have a campground, there are two private campgrounds on Packers Island if you are looking to stay overnight in the area: Fantasy Island Campground and Airport Campground.
I haven’t stayed at either to give many details about them, but both have good reviews online and are sure to have great views of the river.
Getting to the Shikellamy Marina
The Shikellamy Marina can be easily reached from either Northumberland or Sunbury on the eastern banks of the Susquehanna River as Bridge Avenue connects to two communities and crosses Packers Island.
The entrance to this portion of the park can be found at the following coordinates: 40.884886, -76.788449.
[Click here for information on how to use coordinates to find your destination.]