Big Elk Creek State Park: Chester County’s Newest State Park

Big Elk Creek State ParkCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

LANDENBERG, PA — Chester County’s newest state park, Big Elk Creek State Park, was celebrated on Wednesday with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn in attendance. Big Elk Creek State Park is one of three new parks that were just added to Pennsylvania’s system. The addition of this park in Chester County will provide healthy, safe access to the outdoors for generations to come.

The park, which spans 1,712 acres, features 3.5 miles of the Big Elk Creek. “We are proud to welcome Big Elk Creek into our wonderful network of state parks,” said Dunn. “The addition of this park in one of the fastest growing areas in Pennsylvania will provide healthy, safe access to the outdoors for generations to come. We are grateful to Governor Tom Wolf and the state legislature for prioritizing the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians in this region.”

Big Elk Creek has a long history dating back thousands of years, when it served as an important transportation and natural resource corridor for indigenous people. In more recent times, the creek has been an important part of the Underground Railroad, providing freedom seekers with a route to the North. Today, the park provides visitors with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, and birdwatching.

“Chester County is beyond pleased that the commonwealth has chosen Big Elk Creek as one of its next state parks,” said Chester County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz. “We know the investment will further highlight the land’s natural attributes and habitats and become a place that our residents and visitors will love. When it comes to parks, trails and open spaces, Chester County ‘gets it.’ Our businesses and employers value them, our families love them, and we have proven that our 30-year investment is paying us back in dividends, environmentally and economically. We thank DCNR for ensuring this beautiful area gets the resources needed to make it a state park that everyone can enjoy.”

Big Elk Creek joins Susquehanna Riverlands in York County, Vosburg Neck in Wyoming County as the three new additions to Pennsylvania’s state park system, bringing the total number of state parks to 124. The names are temporary, as final names for the state parks will be decided during the planning process.

In keeping with the state park selection process, each of the new locations has criteria that warrant conservation. The Vosburg Neck site will be Wyoming County’s first state park, while the Big Elk Creek location is under significant pressure from residential and commercial development. In York County, the Susquehanna Riverlands site adjoins and builds on large tracts of already preserved open space. Also, each site is within a half-hour of heavily populated areas where land for recreation use is often at a premium.

“We are thrilled to have one of our new state parks right here in Chester County. Increased opportunities for outdoor recreation, like the new Big Elk Creek State Park, contribute to public health and wellness, environmental conservation, local economic activity, and the overall quality of life in our communities,” state Senator Carolyn Comitta said. “I thank Governor Wolf, Secretary Dunn, and all those who joined us in working to make it a reality.”

People can access Big Elk Creek and the other new state parks; however, all have limited visitor amenities such as parking and trails. A master planning process for each park will include evaluation of natural resources, visitor amenities, and recreation opportunities, and the chance for the public to provide input.

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