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Bald Eagle State Park

Bald Eagle State Park - BEST Places to PicnicMain Park Road
Howard, PA 16841

Elevation 958 feet
Coordinates 4102′30″N 7736′12″W

Website: Bald Eagle State Park

The 5,900-acre park lies in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of north central Pennsylvania. Two geologic provinces create Bald Eagle's scenic beauty. The Allegheny Plateau to the north and west holds smooth, undulating uplands. The Ridge and Valley Province to the south and east contains numerous long, narrow mountain ridges separated by valleys.

Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir

A 100-foot high and 1.3 mile long dam forms Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir. Completed in 1969, the reservoir is named in honor of Foster Joseph Sayers, a Private 1st Class in World War II.

The 1,730-acre lake is the focal point for water-based recreation in the park. The lake extends nearly eight miles upstream and has 23 mile of shoreline. Bald Eagle State Park was opened to the public July 4, 1971. Because of its role in flood control, the lake water is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and lake levels vary throughout the year. 

Beginning in November, the USACE begins a five-foot lake draw down to prepare for winter waters. Between mid-February and early March, the water level is lowered an additional 15 feet to maximum flood protection pool. Depending on weather conditions, the reservoir usually reaches the summer recreational pool by mid-May.

Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, is along PA 150 between Milesburg and Lock Haven.  From the I-80 west, take Exit 158 to PA 150 north for about 10 miles.  From the I-80 east, take Exit 178 to US 220 north, to PA 150 south for about 13 miles.

Places to Picnic

The Main Park Area has four picnic areas that close at sunset. Picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free and shared by all park patrons.

Schencks Grove Picnic Area
located on a point adjacent to the beach and marina area, has picnic tables, pavilions #3 and #4, two public restrooms, two play fields, four volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.

The Beach Picnic Area
has pavilions #1, #2, #6 and #7, horseshoe pits, and two volleyball courts.

The Skyline Drive Picnic Area
is located northeast of the Schencks Grove Picnic Area. This area has picnic tables, pavilion #5, four restrooms, one volleyball court and horseshoe pits. This area has some shaded picnic tables.

The Summer/Winter Launch Picnic Area
has pavilion #8, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, public restroom and a fishing pier to accommodate people with disabilities.


The valley, creek, mountain and state park are named for the American Indian chief Woapalanne that means bald eagle. In the mid-1700s, the Lenni Lenape chief briefly dwelled at Bald Eagle's Nest, near Milesburg. The village was along the Bald Eagle Creek Path, a portion of a warrior's path from New York to the Carolinas which now is State Route 150.

As one of the few navigable tributaries of the West Branch Susquehanna River, Bald Eagle Creek became a branch of the Pennsylvania Canal in the mid-1800s. Flooding destroyed the short-lived canal system and newly developed railroads replaced the canal.

These transportation systems and abundant local resources led to the building of the nearby Curtin Ironworks. Loggers cut trees from steep-sided Bald Eagle Mountain and colliers made charcoal from the wood to feed the hungry furnace. 

When the demand for wood products soared in the 1800s, once plentiful pine, chestnut, oak and hickory were cleared from the valley and plateaus and the forest was replaced with farmland. The forests of Bald Eagle Mountain have regenerated and the fertile valley continues to be cultivated.

The reservoir is named in honor of Foster Joseph Sayers, a Private 1st Class in World War II. Nineteen year-old Sayers, a resident of Centre County, lost his life while displaying gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat on November 12, 1944 near Thionville, France. 

During an attack on hostile forces entrenched on a hill, he ran up the steep approach and set up his machine gun 20 yards from the enemy. Realizing it was necessary to attract the full attention of the dug-in Germans while his company crossed an open area and flanked the enemy, he picked up his gun, charged through withering gun fire to the very edge of the German encampment and killed 12 German soldiers with devastating close-range fire. 

He then engaged the enemy from the flank in a heroic attempt to distract attention from his comrades as they reached the crest of the hill. He was killed by a very heavy concentration of return fire, but his fearless assault enabled his company to sweep the hill with minimum casualties, killing or capturing every enemy solider. Sayers received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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