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Loyalhanna Lake

Recreation

Pittsburgh District
Published Jan. 10, 2024

Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, among terrain characterized by its diversity, Loyalhanna Lake provides a mixture of scenery and recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District invites you to visit the Loyalhanna project and enjoy its natural settings.

Lake visitors will discover topography ranging from the rolling foothills of the Laurel Highlands, from which the headwaters of Loyalhanna Creek flow, to the steep, wooded hillsides, and ravines found near the dam. In the midst of these surroundings, visitors to Loyalhanna Lake can enjoy various outdoor activities either on the water, or around the water.

Boating
For boaters the project offers many fine opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. A three-lane boat launching ramp is provided for powerboats and water-skiing enthusiasts.  Canoeists can float Loyalhanna Creek, as it meanders on its sinuous course towards the lake, providing paddlers with beautiful scenery and a chance to observe nature along the way.  Canoes can be launched at the Sanderson Bridge on Derbytown Road, or the Bush Recreation Area.

Boaters and canoeists at Loyalhanna also have the opportunity to venture along the Black Willow Water Trail. This unique trail is a self-guided boating trail with designated stations marking natural and man-made features. Highlights of the trail include observing the osprey diving for a fish, mingling with a family of wood ducks and studying the exotic erosion patterns of headwater sandstone cliffs. A trail brochure supplies additional information and is available at the Ranger Booth at the Bush Recreation Area.

Camping
Loyalhanna has a beautiful campground on the upper end of the lake at the Bush Recreation Area. There are 44 campsites, a majority of which are in a woodland setting and have a majestic view of the lake; twelve of these campsites have water and electricity hookups and are equipped for larger RVs. All sites have adequate tent space, a picnic table, lantern holder and fire ring. The campground also contains restroom facilities, showers, a playground, volleyball court and a sanitary dump station. Camping is available from Memorial Day Weekend to September. A primitive group campground, located at the Kiski Area, is available to organized groups by contacting the Park Office. The Kiski Group Campground is secluded and excellent for scout groups.

Day-use
If a quiet spot for an afternoon picnic with family and friends is what you are looking for, Loyalhanna has it. The Dam Site Picnic Area, with its shaded woodland setting, is especially popular, along with the picnic area located at the Bush Recreation Area.  Both day-use picnic areas are equipped with a pavilion, picnic tables, charcoal grills, drinking fountains and restroom facilities.

Fishing
Fishing is extremely popular at Loyalhanna with an abundance of inlets, coves and backwater areas to entice the angler. The lake contains plentiful amounts of crappie, bullhead, catfish, bluegills, largemouth bass and carp. Aside from these abundant species, anglers have the opportunity to battle a trophy-sized musky or tiger musky, land a walleye in the outflow and feel the hard hit of an occasional tiger trout from the headwaters. There are also small, but established populations of northern pike in the lake. Fishing is particularly good in the area where Serviceberry Run flows into the lake, and in the fast-paced waters of the outflow area below the dam.

Hunting
The Corps of Engineers leases 2,894 acres of project lands to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for wildlife management purposes and public hunting.  Hunters will discover that the project's surrounding countryside holds an abundance of different game species. Deer and small game, such as rabbits and squirrels, abound. There is also a variety of game birds including turkey, grouse, pheasants and doves for hunters with a keen eye.  Several hunters' parking lots have also been developed to provide access to hunting areas. Maps showing the different access areas and designated hunter parking lots can be accessed by contacting the Park Office.

Pavilion Reservations 
Reservations have been centralized for the Dam Site and the Lakeview Pavilion located at the Bush Recreation Area and can now only be made through the NRRS 877-444-6777 or www.recreation.gov.

Firearm / Firework Policy
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers DOES NOT honor State-issued concealed weapon permits, prohibits loaded concealed weapons, the possession of loaded firearms or ammunition on lands and waters administered by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers per Title 36, CFR 327.13{a).