Greenwood Furnace State Park in northern Huntingdon County is one of the most beautiful and historic state parks in Pennsylvania.
Greenwood Furnace State Park was established in 1921 as Greenwood Public Camp. It is located on land that was once the town of Greenwood Furnace, which was built around an iron furnace.
Today, the park is a popular spot for those that love beautiful natural scenery, great hiking, and fascinating history. So, if you’re planning to visit this great spot in the Alleghenies, here are five fun things to do in Greenwood Furnace State Park.
Explore the Ruins of Greenwood Furnace
The town of Greenwood Furnace was abandoned in 1904 after the furnace closed. This ended a 70 year period of iron manufacturing in this beautiful valley.
Today, little remains of the town of hundreds that once lived here, but there are still historic things to be seen within the park.
The most prominent of these is the restored iron furnace and the crumbling one next to it. These stone furnaces are all that remains of the complex and would have been surrounded by a large wooden building when it was in operation.
There were two furnaces here that were capable of producing up to five tons of pig iron a day. The iron made here was, in later years, used primarily in the railroad industry.
Near the furnace, there is signage that offers some great information on the importance of this site and how iron was made here.
In addition to the furnace, several other historic buildings still exist including a church along the main road (which still holds services on Sundays in the summer) and a blacksmith shop that offers demonstrations on select days throughout the year.
Several other buildings from this historic town still stand or have visible ruins that you can see. The park map does a great job noting these spots and even offers a nice layout of the town from 1885.
So, while this might not be one of the most impressive ghost towns in Pennsylvania, there’s enough to see here that the area is known as the Greenwood Furnace National Historic District.
Hike the Trails at Greenwood Furnace State Park
The 423 acres of Greenwood Furnace State Park are home to many miles of beautiful hiking trails, including access to two long-distance hiking trails: the 72-mile Standing Stone Trail and the 325-mile Mid State Trail.
The most popular trail in the park is the Lakeside Trail, which runs for a quarter-mile along the undeveloped side of the lake. This trail can be combined with other trails and pathways around the lake for a hike of a half-mile or so.
The Lakeview Trail is relatively easy, though does have a few very small but steep climbs and descents. The near-constant views of the lake will quickly have you forgetting those, though.
Those looking for longer and more challenging hikes will enjoy the Chestnut Spring Trail and the Brush Ridge Trail and the loops that can be created with both.
Greenwood Furnace State Park is home to a beach that is open to the public from late May through mid-September. While it doesn’t have a guard, visitors are allowed to swim in a roped-off section of Greenwood Lake that extends out to approximately five feet in depth.
The beach is roughly 100 yards long and offers a lot of room for visitors to spread out and enjoy the sandy beach and the inviting waters of the lake.
At the southern end of the beach, there is an ADA-accessible ramp that makes it easy for anyone to get into the water.
Adjacent to the beach, there is a bathroom with a changing room and a concession stand (open Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Check Out the Greenwood Lake Spillway
While there aren’t many (if any) natural waterfalls in this area of the Alleghenies, the spillway at the southern end of Greenwood Lake is a beautiful spot to check out.
This dam holds back the waters of the East Branch of Standing Stone Creek, which were first dammed to provide power for the town’s gristmill in the 19th century.
Today, water flows over this spillway as the creek continues towards its confluence with the main branch of Standing Stone Creek and the Juniata River.
This dam isn’t overly tall, maybe about 15 feet or so in total height, but it provides a lot of great beauty, especially when you see it with the lake and mountains behind it.
Greenwood Lake is a great spot for fishing, and I’ve seen people fishing at a variety of places around the lake including at the spillway, along the Lakeview Trail, and at a small pier on the northern end of the lake.
Greenwood Lake is stocked with trout each year and is home to a variety of other fish species as well. In the winter, the lake is open to ice fishing, so the fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s cold outside.
If you’d rather not fish from shore, the six-acre Greenwood Lake allows kayaks and canoes onto the water.
How to Get to Greenwood Furnace State Park
Greenwood Furnace State Park is located in northern Huntingdon County near the border with both Centre County and Mifflin County. The park is 10 minutes from Belleville and 30 minutes from both Huntingdon and State College. That makes it an easy spot to visit if you’re looking for trails near State College and the surrounding area.
It can be found along Route 305 at the following coordinates: 40.650509, -77.754408.
Since most of the park’s attractions are located in a central area, you can park at any of the lots near the park office and the beach and easily reach all of the things to do in Greenwood Furnace State Park from there.
Which of these things to do at Greenwood Furnace State Park is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
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