Matt R.
Pittsburgh, PA
Joined June 2019
I like tent camping and backpacking. Emphasis on privacy.
A so-so destination

This place wasn't bad but nothing really stellar about it either.  I visited on a Tuesday in early July and stayed the night with my 9 year old son.  Literally the park was abandoned - no visitors, hardly any employees to be seen (saw one guy mowing grass, that was it), and the park office itself closed except for on the weekends. We drove down to the main area of the park to check out the old mill, canal lock, ect.  Really cool looking and quaint, but again, everything locked up so you couldn't go inside or find out much more additional info.  The creek itself is very beautiful and the campground manager I talked to said a lot of people canoe or kayak down its length to the Ohio.  

Campground has limited well water and a one seater vault toilet with no sinks, showers, ect.  I stayed in spot 55 on the northern part of the campground which was pretty wooded, but not private.  All spots can see into other camps.  Small creek ran behind the end of the loop but it was mostly stagnant water which made it very buggy at night.  Overall like I said, not a bad place, but I wouldn't rush to come back unless I was on some type of canoeing trip.

No campground, though shelter sites accessible for backpacking

Moraine is a really large state park with a huge lake, nice beaches, and tons of trails.  The north country trail runs for over a dozen miles from end to end.  This review is of the shelter sites, of which there is one, for backpacking along the trail.  There are three shelters which are all very mouse infested.  I believe this is because the site does not have a bear pole or bear box, so I think most people probably don't hang their food like they should and thus the mice move in to forage.  Of the 3, the Hilltop shelter 2, which we stayed in is the nicest and private.  There is a rustic vault toilet but no water at the site.  I asked the lady at the park office if there was water nearby and she said yes, just hike down to the access road and over to the group tenting site to fillup.  I'll tell you, this is not close - easily a 2-3 mile round trip.

Love Cook Forest

Cook Forest is a wonderful park with tons of trails and canoeing down the Clarion River.  Campground is vast and hard to pick a spot, though I found the park office helpful in giving me their opinion.  Can be very crowded in the summer and on weekends.  My site ended up not being very private but I had woods along the back which made it better.  Lots of other families around so my son liked playing with the other kids while I made dinner.

Hillside campground is where its at

Park itself is gorgeous with a large lake and designated swimming area.  Place attracts a lot of people in the summer as its basically in the Pittsburgh suburbs along a major road artery.  There are 2 campgrounds in the park, the hillside one and the one on the lake.  The lakeside one is a glorified trailer park and is packed during the summer with no privacy.  I hiked with my son all the trails in the park and cut through and did not like what I saw.  The hillside one doesn't get near the crowds and it set in the woods.  There are some very secluded sites.

Park super small, some great sites hidden among some junk

My son and I tent camped here in July to escape the head down in Pittsburgh.  Sits up high in the mountains close to 3000ft elevation.  Park and campground are very small and almost desolate during the week.  There is a main road nearby and you hear industrial trucks rolling by constantly.  There are some great private tent only wooded sites that sit above the main park of the campground so you really feel secluded.

Not private for tent camping

I have been to Raccoon Creek many times as it is one of the closest camping places to the Pittsburgh metro area.  The park it self is large, has over 40 miles of trails, a fantastic backpacking loop setup for beginners, and a nice lake for swimming, fishing, ect.  I would give the park as a whole a 5/5 but for tent camping the campground is mediocre.  It is a really large campground with lots of adjoining loops.  We stayed in the tent loop at the back of the campground.  The area is not wooded at all and most sites look right into the sites next to them.  If you are like me and crave privacy, avoid.  The bathroom was rather dirty also.  There is a trail that leads down from the tent loop to the beach which is cool but very very steep (not for too young or old).  Overall, if you are looking to stay in a camp in this park I'd suggest doing the backpacking loop instead.  Grab your permit at the park office, park at the heritage trail lot in the southern end of the park and hike to the Pioneer shelter.  Sites 4 and 5 are amazing.  Note though that the Pioneer site does not have water so you will need to filter water from a stream on the way, though there are many opportunities.  The Sioux site is overgrown and is not worth backpacking to, though it does have a water pump and is close to the park office.