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Yellow Creek, PA: Damsite Trail

Just an hour and a half from Pittsburgh, this easy 3.2-mile loop rolls through forests bustling with migratory warblers, passes the spillway of the Yellow Creek dam, and tours the shore of Yellow Creek Lake.

Trip Tools

This easy 3.2-mile loop through Yellow Creek State Park is a welcoming hike for all ages, especially bird-lovers. With the 720-acre Yellow Creek Lake as a dramatic backdrop, eyes should not only be focused on the glassy sea, but also peeled for Warblers, as well as Northern Pintail, Great Blue Heron, and migrating Tundra Swan that frequently arrive in flocks of hundreds. Other highlights include an overlook near the massive 1960s-era dam, as well as excellent picnic spots along the way. This hike is ideal for a day outside of the city, exploring Pennsylvania’s outdoor wonders — some manmade and others perfectly natural.

Starting at the primitive trailhead at the end of Hoffman Road, east of the park’s main day-use area, this mapped route follows the loop trail’s more difficult and rolling west side. Skip the user-created cut-off headed right at mile 0.4 and continue north scaling the gentle hillside and looking to the treetops for Red-Eyed Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, and several Warbler species that frequent the park, especially in summer.
At mile 1.1 you’ll hit another user-created link trail where this mapped route bears right to join the loop’s east side for the final .4-mile. The trail ends at a flat, open overlook which peeks into the dam’s spillway. The return trip follows the loop’s east side alongside the lakeshore, offering views of the marshlands and the Seph Mack Boy Scout camp on the lake’s north side.
After this family-friendly hike—do it as a loop, a loop combo like this mapped route, or stick to the loop’s east side for the easiest hike—consider cooling off at the park’s 800-foot beach or with a picnic at one of its many picnic shelters.

INFO: Yellow Creek State Park, (724) 357-7913;

-Mapped by Ed Novak

To Trailhead

From Pittsburgh, PA, drive 35 miles northeast on PA 28 N. Exit onto US 422 East, and after 25.4 miles, exit onto PA 954 to enter the park. Follow Hoffman Road for 2.2 miles, and the trailhead will be on the right.

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