Tionesta Lake


Pittsburgh District
Published Jan. 10, 2024

Winding its way through the rugged hills of northwestern Pennsylvania, Tionesta Lake offers a unique setting for a diversity of outdoor recreational opportunities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to visit the project and discover Tionesta's delightful lake and the natural beauty of the surrounding forest.

For those looking for a memorable outdoor experience, Tionesta offers a mix of beautiful scenery and recreational activities that will not soon be forgotten. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy boating, camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, water-skiing, picnicking, sightseeing and much more. There are no parking fees. 

Fishermen have found the variety of fishing waters in the area enticing and productive. The clear mountain streams, placid lake and glistening Allegheny River have yielded many fine catches of trout, muskie, walleye, bass and panfish.

The lake and its miles of unspoiled shoreline offer unlimited opportunities for water-based recreation. Watercraft of all types and sizes can be found on Tionesta Lake, from powerboats of unlimited horsepower with water skiers in tow, to sleek canoes and small fishing boats plying the inlets, coves and backwater areas of the lake. Easy access to the water is provided by boat launches at either end of the lake with ample trailer parking available.

Home to a remarkable variety of wildlife, Tionesta has claim as one of Pennsylvania's best big game regions. Hunters will find deer in abundance as well as bear, turkey and small game. Part of the pleasure of hunting at Tionesta is experiencing the quiet, rejuvenating forest.

Campers will find a welcome change of pace from everyday urban life at one of Tionesta's many tree-shaded campsites. Camping facilities range from rustic in nature, located at lakeside and accessible only by boat, to sites equipped with hot showers and full hook-ups.

If out sightseeing for the day, why not stop at Tionesta and enjoy a leisurely picnic with family or friends or perhaps walk on one of the self-guided nature trails?  There are also several scenic overlooks that provide exciting vistas of the lake and forested hillsides. An especially scenic time for sightseeing at Tionesta Lake is in the autumn when the splendor of the fall foliage is at its peak.

Campground Reservations
Many campsites at four Pittsburgh District lakes - Berlin Lake, Shenango River Lake, Tionesta Lake and Youghiogheny River Lake - can be reserved in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS), an interagency one-stop center for recreation reservations. Reservations can be made up to six months before arrival by calling the NRRS toll-free at 1-877-444-6777 or on their web site At Tionesta Lake, reservation can be made 6 months before your arrival for the recreation season at the Tionesta Recreation Area Campground, Outflow Campground and Kellettville Campground.

Tionesta Lake does not accept payments at the contact booth.

The Corps of Engineers leases 860 acres of the project lands and waters to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.  The lease encompasses the main body of the lake and its adjoining lands including the Milton Loop Boat Launch and the Sportsman's Area.  The Milton Loop Boat Launch is a concrete three lane ramp located off of Route 839.  It is open from about mid-April to mid-October, but it is only suitable for safe launching from mid-May to mid-October.  The Sportsman's Area has a 16- foot wide concrete boat ramp and an 18 car and trailer parking lot.  This area is also accessible for good shore fishing spots and canoe launching.  The Sportsman's Area is closed from mid-December to mid-March.

Pavilion Reservations

Reservations are being accepted for the Outflow Picnic Pavilion. The rental fee is $50 with electric. Reservations can be made by calling the NRRS toll-free at 1-877-444-6777 or on their website

Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids
The Boat/U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety has funded a Life Jacket Loaner Program for kids at Tionesta Lake. Fifteen life jackets in three sizes for children are available:  infant, child and youth. The U.S. Coast Guard requires recreational boats to have a wearable life jacket on board for each passenger, but life jackets suitable for children are not always available. In addition, at Tionesta Lake and other Corps of Engineers lakes in the Pittsburgh District, it is required that children under 13 years of age wear a life jacket while boating. Children are especially at risk on and near the water. A properly sized life jacket can be the difference between life and death for a small child. A boater merely signs out the jacket(s) and returns it at the end of the day. Call the Park Office to make arrangements.

Information Center
The Information Center located on top of the Dam, is open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays during the summer months. The hours are 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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).