Memorial Lake State Park Complex, comprising parks located in both Lebanon and Dauphin (and a small part of Schuylkill) counties, has an action-packed September schedule for nature lovers, adventurers, and families alike.

Swatara State Park sprawls across 3,520 acres of picturesque fields and woodlands. Established in 1987, the park boasts an array of trails suitable for walking, cycling, and horseback riding, interspersed with historical waterway features. On Sept. 1, budding paleontologists can “Dig into PA’s Past” and learn about the local fossils, while later in the month, car enthusiasts can explore the Bear Hole Trail Drive-Thru.

Memorial Lake State Park, sitting near Blue Mountain in East Hanover Township, is known for its boating and fishing activities. The lake itself, located at Fort Indiantown Gap, was fashioned by a man-made dam. Programs at Memorial Lake will include a birding walk on Sept. 6 and a bats education walk on Sept. 10.

For the full list of events, see below. Program changes due to weather or staffing can occur, so it’s recommended to check for updates. For special accommodations, contact 717-865-6470 or email qheist@pa.gov at least 72 hours prior to the event.

Fri. Sept. 1: Fossil Frenzy: Dig into PA’s Past @ Swatara State Park

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at the Swopes Valley Trailhead.
  • Description: Learn about local fossils and dig for them on fossil hill.
  • Cost: Free

Tues. Sept. 5: Pawpaw: PA’s Forgotten Fruit @ Boyd Big Tree Preserve

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at the education pavilion.
  • Description: Discover the history and biology of the pawpaw tree and hike to find them.
  • Cost: Free

Wed. Sept. 6: Birding Walk @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 9 -10:30 a.m.
  • Location: Meet near Middle Lot pavilion.
  • Description: A guided bird watching walk.
  • Cost: Free

Thurs. Sept. 7: Hook, Line, and Simple: Fishing @ Boyd Big Tree Preserve

  • Time: 4 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at education pavilion.
  • Description: Learn basic fishing techniques.
  • Cost: Free, but fishing licenses required for anyone 16+.

Thurs. Sept. 7: Pawpaw: PA’s Forgotten Fruit @ Boyd Big Tree Preserve (Evening Session)

  • Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at education pavilion.
  • Description: Discover the history and biology of the pawpaw tree and hike to find them.
  • Cost: Free

Fri. Sept. 8: Intro to Kayaking @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at the Lower Lot.
  • Description: Learn the basics of kayak safety and technique.
  • Cost: $5 donation to Friends of Memorial Lake and Swatara State Parks.

Sept. 8 & 9: Bear-Hole Trail Drive-Thru @ Swatara State Park

  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Location: Drive begins at Swopes Valley Trailhead.
  • Description: Drive through Bear Hole Trail by car.
  • Cost: Free

Sat. Sept. 9: Damsels & Dragons: Insect Hunters @ Swatara State Park

  • Time: 10 – 11:30 a.m.
  • Location: Meet at Wagner’s Pond.
  • Description: Explore dragonflies and damselflies at Swatara State Park.
  • Cost: Free

Sat. Sept. 9: Animal Tracks and Traces @ Swatara State Park

  • Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
  • Location: Table at Bordner Cabin.
  • Description: Learn about wildlife tracking.
  • Cost: Free

Sun. Sept. 10: Insect Exploration @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 5:30 – 7 p.m.
  • Location: Meet near Middle Lot pavilion.
  • Description: Catch and study various insects.
  • Cost: Free

Sun. Sept. 10: Going Batty: PA Bats @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 8:30 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at the Middle Lot pavilion.
  • Description: A guided walk to learn about the bats of PA.
  • Cost: Free

Sun. Sept. 17: Stream Study @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at Lower Road lot.
  • Description: Explore stream creatures and their environment.
  • Cost: Free

Tues. Sept. 19: Homeschool Day: Trees @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Time: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at Middle Lot pavilion.
  • Description: Explore the diverse tree species in PA.
  • Cost: Free but requires registration.

Wed. Sept. 20: Intro to Archery @ Memorial Lake State Park

  • Times:
    • 6 – 8 p.m.
    • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at Middle Road Lot.
  • Description: Learn the basics of archery.
  • Cost: Free but requires registration.

Fri. Sept. 22: Salamander Safari @ Swatara State Park

  • Time: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at Trout Run Trailhead.
  • Description: Search for salamanders around Swatara’s creek.
  • Cost: Free

Sept. 22 & 23: Bear-Hole Trail Drive-Thru @ Swatara State Park (Repeat)

  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Location: Drive begins at Swopes Valley Trailhead.
  • Description: Drive through Bear Hole Trail by car.
  • Cost: Free

Sat. Sept. 30: Intro to Kayaking @ Memorial Lake State Park (Repeat)

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Location: Meet at the Lower Lot.
  • Description: Learn the basics of kayak safety and technique.
  • Cost: $5 donation to Friends of Memorial Lake and Swatara State Parks.
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