Camping east coast North east PA State Parks Pennsylvania photography travel Uncategorized Visit PA

Cherry Springs and Lyman Run State Parks

Pennsylvania is home to 111 State Parks, each of which has something interesting and unique to offer. Cherry Springs State Park and Lyman Run State Parks in Potter County are no different. At both of these state parks you will find some of the darkest skies on the east coast. It is so dark that on a very clear night you can see the Milky Way Galaxy with the naked eye.

If you want to be truly amazed and ponder our place in the universe. A visit to Lyman Run State Park and Cherry Springs State Park is a must. There is a reason this region of Pennsylvania is called the Wilds. After one visit you will understand the reason too.

Both state parks are located within 10-15 minutes of each other, which makes visiting both easy. We personally like to set up camp at Lyman Run and start our night out at Cherry Springs. Now these parks are “out of the way” of major cities. Cherry Springs State Park and Lyman Run State Park are four and a half hours from New York City and Philadelphia. They are three and a half hours away from Pittsburgh and three hours away from Niagara Falls.

The closest town is Coudersport, located 15 miles from Cherry Springs State Park. Both of these parks are remote. Good luck getting cell service out here. You better be able to read a map and not rely on Google for your directional needs.

Cherry Springs State Park

Sunset at Cherry Springs State Park

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the smaller state parks in Pennsylvania. It is only 82 acres but is surrounded by the 262,000 acre Susquehannock State Forest. Even though it is small. It packs a powerful punch when the sun goes down.

Cherry Springs State Park, General Public Viewing area, Star Gazing, PA State Park,
General Pubic Viewing Field at Cherry Springs
My setup while at Cherry Springs

Once the sun sets at Cherry Springs State Park the real show begins. As the sky darkens and your eyes adjust to the night, the sky lights up with thousands of stars. There are so many, your eyes can’t focus on them all.

There are so many stars that it is hard to make out some of the most recognizable constellations. Good luck trying to find the Big Dipper to help point you to the North Star. You will eventually find it but it is much harder than doing it from your back yard.

It is said that only 10% of Americans have experienced a truly dark sky. After one visit here a look up to the heavens won’t be the same. It will always be missing something. Cherry Springs State Park is one of the few Dark Sky Parks in the United States.

Night sky, Dark Sky Park, Cherry Springs State Park, Vega, Milky Way, Astrophotography, Astronomy, stars, star gazing,
Vega as seen from Cherry Springs State Park

Bring a chair and a blanket (yes even in the summer), and enjoy the show. Try to remember to bring a red light flashlight and try not to use your phone. The white light from your phone or a flashlight will ruin your night vision.

You can also spend the night at Cherry Springs State Park. There are two different areas you can stay at. One right next to the general pubic viewing area. The second is at the overnight observation viewing area.

Just remember if you plan on staying at the overnight observation area to have no white lights. Make sure your car lights are all off. Even a split second of white light can ruin another guests long exposure shot or their night vision.

You won’t need any fancy equipment to take in all the wonderful views. All you need is your eyes and some time to let them adjust.

Lyman Run State Park

Lyman Run State Park, Lyman Run Lake, Water, Lake, PA Wilds, Potter County,
Lyman Run Lake at Dawn

Lyman Run State Park in Potter County is a great location to go camping, hiking, fishing, and star gazing. This 595 acre state park has six miles of hiking trials and connects to the larger Susquehannock Trail System. None of the hikes will blow your mind but the view from Lyman Run Lake Vista is pretty specular.

Lyman Run Lake Vista, Lyman Run State Park, PA Wilds, Potter County, PA State Parks, Mountains,

One of the big draws to Lyman Run State Park is Lyman Run Lake. This 45 acre lake offers a small beach and swimming area. The lake is also great to do a little fishing or boating in. There’s nothing like spending the day down by the lake while you wait for the epic show at night.

There are 35 RV and tent camping sites in two different camp grounds at Lyman Run. The camp grounds have a nice modern bathhouse with hot showers and running water. Most of the sites also have electricity.

Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern pole. Only six of the 35 sites are walk on sites. The rest you can drive to and park your car or RV at.

The ground here is a little solid. If you plan on camping in a tent make sure you have some heavy duty stakes to secure your tent. You will only get a couple inches in before you hit solid rock.

If you plan on camping at Lyman Run State Park and the night is going to be clear try sleeping with the rain fly off. The night sky here is amazing. I personally like it more than at near-by Cherry Springs State Park. I just found the surroundings to be much more interesting.

If you go during a New Moon, be prepared for a very dark place. It will take awhile for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was so dark when I visited you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

This helped when it came to star gazing. The sky was amazing. So many stars to look up at. I had a hard time grasping my mind around how many I was seeing.

Forget about trying to figure out constellations. Even the dimmest of stars from my back yard in the Philadelphia area, where so bright here. Being out here really makes you think and ponder what is really out there.

Milky Way Galaxy at Lyman Run Lake

If you find yourself spending the night or a couple of nights in Lyman Run State Park be sure to check out the lake at night. The sky is amazing with the lake as a back drop. On a clear night you can even make out the Milky Way Galaxy with the naked eye.

Grab a comfy chair or blanket and look up. You might not even want to go to bed till the sun comes up. I know I like to stay up till at least two in the morning taking it all in.

What to Bring

As we stated before, you don’t really need to bring any special gear to really witness the wonders at both of these amazing state parks. However, if you want to try a little astrophotography there are some things that will help.

Below you will find some affiliate links. It is at no extra cost to you for clicking a link, but helps me out. For more info click here.

As you might know you can only take a quick photo depending on your lens of the night sky before the stars appear to move. To prevent this you need to use star tracking mount. The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack is what I used on my last trip and I couldn’t of been happier with the results on my first try.

The longest exposure I tried was a little over three minutes long. Now I have to work on dialing in my focus but I am very happy with the results on my first go around.

Another very important piece of gear to have when using the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer is a sturdy tripod. The VICTIV Aluminum Travel Tripod was just what I needed. Not once did I feel like my camera and set up would fall over. Even when the wind decided to pick up a little.

One other nice addition to have with you is a red light flashlight or headlamp. You want to protect night vision of you and the people around you.

If planning on camping at Lyman Run State Park remember to grab some heavy duty stakes. You want to make sure your tent is secure and won’t be going anywhere. The flimsy stakes that come with your tent just won’t cut it here.

Hope we were able to answer some of your questions when it comes to Cherry Springs State Park and Lyman Run State Parks. Both are amazing places to visit for the night. If you have any question ask us in the comments below.

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