Prince Gallitzin state park offers approximately 16 miles of beautiful equestrian trails up on the Allegheny plateau around Glendale Lake. Hopefully this up-to-date guide written specifically for horse riding will give you accurate and thorough information you need to know for horseback riding there! Since quite a bit of information floating around is sadly outdated, we hope this helps.
People are always asking about Glendale Stables. There is no horseback riding concession at the park where you can rent horses; it closed years ago.
The park trail guide is pretty good, better than average, and the brochure contains descriptions and distances for all the horse trails. You can view it from the webpage:
Hiking at Prince Gallitzin
Better yet, pick up a physical brochure at park headquarters on the south side of the lake (or stations at most parking areas) and disconnect from your phone for a little while.
Waymarked Horse Trails will show you the park’s trails, as well as many others in the area:
Waymarked Horse Trails: Prince Gallitzin
Broadly speaking there are two riding areas in the park:
- North – Shomo Fields – north of Beaver Valley Road
- East – Bater Patch trails – west of Fiske Road
Shomo Fields is north of Beaver Valley Road and Beaver Valley Marina. Bollinger Trail generally parallels the road and gives access to a number of loop trails into the Shomo Fields area. This is nice because it gives options for varying riding distance. The only downside is Bollinger Trail is kind of noisy because of the amount of traffic on the road. Be careful crossing the road and pulling out onto it with your trailer! In good weather it gets quite busy, visibility is terrible, and people often drive too fast.
Bater Patch is on the lake’s east side, and west of the villages of Fallen Timber and Fiske. It has longer trails, including some which were once part of a hire-a-horse concession at the park (which closed years ago). The main loop is Old Glendale Road and Hagarraty Trail; see below for more information. There is also a section of Shomo Run Trail which loops, but most of that trail is out and back.
Note: At the village of Fiske where you turn back to Bater Patch there is a small church where you might park to ride back the dirt road to the actual trailhead. Be warned that there is a house along the access road with large and obnoxious dogs which are not contained. It’s easy to mistake their driveway for the road. You were warned!
There are several areas for parking:
- Beaver Valley Marina
- Beaverdam parking lot
- Bater Patch trailhead
- Firing Range access road
Beaver Valley Marina is the “official” horse trailer parking area. It’s primarily for boat launching with lots of parking for boat trailers. The upper lot is gravel and grass and is best for horses. It is a bit close to the road, which can be busy, but there is a bank separating them a bit. There can be a lot of traffic in the marina, with boats and boat trailers coming in and out and many people about. Don’t expect it to be the quietest place on earth to get tacked up and on your way. On a Sunday in late October 6 horse trailers pulled in after us!
Beaverdam parking lot is closest to the actual dam, nice if you want to access trails at the east of the park (by crossing the dam). Officially it is said to be too small for trailers. In reality, the lot was extended (may not appear on all maps or aerial views) and could certainly take one smaller trailer in the slow season. Certainly at busy times you should not tie up this lot, as it seems like it is mainly for kayakers and fishy people.
Bater Patch trailhead is a tiny and remote dirt lot accessible via the village of Fiske on the east edge of the park. You might be able to squeeze in two two-horse trailers or a small goose neck, but not much more. This is a convenient access to Old Glendale Road and Haggaraty Trail, but just understand that it’s small, there are NO facilities there at all, and it is back a 1/2 mile long one-lane dirt road that’s not exactly smooth. If you get back there and it’s parked up, you may get plenty of practice backing your trailer!
The game commission Firing Range (southeast corner of lake) has a small gravel parking area just off Marina Road. It appears you could park there to access Shomo Run Trails from the south end, as it’s not the actual parking for the gun range. There is significant gun noise, so it’s not a particularly peaceful spot. It appears you can connect to Shomo Run Trail directly across the road from the parking area, but that’s not shown on maps.
When you have a big horse, it’s nice to have easy mounting spots!
Most parking areas have at least one picnic table. But at busy times it may not be easy to find a place to mount your horse.
Picnic tables at Beaver Valley Marina tend to be in the congested area near the water, and not the greatest for mounting.
There is plenty of grazing at Beaver Valley Marina, or any of the bigger access areas. Headache Hill would also be a good grazing stop with plenty of parking, and you can take in the view from the overlook.
Bater Patch is deep in the woods with little grass.
The biggest bridge issue is probably the dam itself: the overflow at the east end is crossed by a high span with a concrete deck and open chain-link fence sides. Moving water is visible on both sides, and it’s down pretty far. If your horse isn’t an experienced trail horse, this one could be interesting. There is one small bench on either side of the dam where you might remount if you have to walk this one, but the west one is quite a distance from the overflow bridge–the dam is about 1/3 mile long.
Another bridge crosses the overflow stream down off the dam breast to the north. It is intended for snowmobiles. It is wooden decked with NO sides at all! It is five feet wide, approximately 40-50 feet long, and about six feet above the stream. I don’t think my horse is going for that one without some practice.
Bollinger Trail has a small covered bridge west of Beaver Valley marina. It is 30 feet long with a wooden deck, and crosses Pickerel Pond. The roof is less than 7 feet high, not much for a rider on a tall horse! You can easily bypass it on land just north of the bridge.
On our first trail we encountered a small and easy bridge with a wooden deck and steel railings. It appears there are a few of those scattered around, but they are in good shape and unlikely to be an issue for most horses.
We’ve not been on all the trails, but it seems like they are generally dirt or grass, with minimal rocks. Small gravel is in a few high-traffic areas like gates.
Expect to encounter a few swampy areas, but most are small enough to be skirted or bypassed easily.
Trail grades all seem easy. While online mapping shows grades up to 10-15%, these seem to be short. We were told Rhody trail down to the lake might be the steepest area, but still not really bad.
Trails are blazed (colors are listed on the website trail descriptions but not the brochure). Most trail junctions are nicely marked with posts indicating where each branch takes you. A+ to park management for doing such a good job on these! Other parks should be so good.
Woods tend to be a mix of deciduous and conifers. There are a few open areas, mostly along the lake, though most of them are grown up. It’s generally a really pretty place to ride, especially in spring and fall.
We asked the park naturalist how bad horseflies and biting flies are in the summertime and got a noncommittal answer. Expect that they are probably bad due to all the wet areas. Since the park is high, there may at times be enough wind to limit fly problems, but spring and fall may be your best bets.
In the fall, I picked up a tick in just a short time walking only on mowed paths. So check you and your animals after a visit.
As we explore, we will add info on some options for loop trails.
Beaver Valley Marina to Old Glendale Road is a popular loop. Start at the marina, follow Bollinger Trail northeast, cross the dam breast, and do a 3 mile loop of Haggaraty Trail/Krise Road and Old Glendale Road. Total distance is almost 6 miles, with 200 feet of vertical. Haggaraty Trail seems to have more up and down than Old Glendale Rd, so you might want to do it first. If you park at Beaverdam it will shave 2 miles off the round trip (but see notes under Parking).
Beaver Valley Marina to Gates Trail (east) is a nice easy loop. Start at the marina, follow Bollinger Trail northeast to pick up the east branch of Gates Trail. There is a bit of a climb up away from the road, but it’s not very long. After meeting the west branch of Gates trail continue west across Swartz Road and straight ahead onto Rhody trail. After climbing a bit you turn left on Herman Fields Road (it is a trail). There is a slight climb then it’s pretty level through overgrown pastures to an easy descent back to the road right across from the marina. There are a couple damp spots. About 3 miles.
Map of Gates Trail (east) loop
Gates trail: Openstreetmap shows the trail jogging where it crosses Swartz Road; it actually continues straight across as the park map shows. Swartz Road can be a little busy, use caution when crossing.
Bollinger trail: Acts as a connector spine trail along Beaver Valley road and is unfortunately a bit noisy at times due to traffic. Be careful crossing the road! Openstreetmap shows sections of it along powerlines which were not mowed when we visited. Some stretches are a bit squishy, both in the woods and in open fields, thanks to poorly drained soils. Nearby Patton once had a massive brick and tile factory (Patton Pavers are all over the world), so you can guess that soils tend towards clay.
Bring your own water, or at least a bucket to get water out of the lake or a stream. I had little luck finding a hydrant at any of the areas I checked. Water fountains are apparently due the the plague, and none of them seem to have faucets anyway!
At Beaver Valley Marina, volunteer hosts have a hydrant at their RV. If you ask nicely you can probably use it… assuming they are there and it isn’t turned off for the winter. Other areas may have similar hosts with running water.
Or there is the lake. With all the boat launches, you can probably wade your horse in and bathe except during busy boating times.
Something that should be emphasized on the park website and is NOT: most of the park is open to full hunting. In pleasant fall weather you will likely encounter hunters and gunfire on your ride (and should obviously wear hi-viz orange!). Hunting in PA is prohibited on most Sundays, meaning Sundays may be pretty busy with horse users trying to avoid being shot by some careless dipshit.
Beaver Valley Marina has real restrooms with running water which seem to be open even out of season. There are a modest number of picnic tables, some benches, and a peninsula with benches out in the lake.
Beaverdam has pit toilets and no running water. One picnic table.
Pickerel Pond has real restrooms, a water fountain, a playground, some pavilions, plenty of picnic tables, and a wide open field, but may be crowded in warmer months.
Bater Patch has no facilities. The east end of the park is undeveloped compared to the rest.
Supplies in the Area
Route 53 Country Store in the village of Fallen Timber east of the park has gas (no diesel), a small food menu, and Hershey’s ice cream. They have the mild/medium/hot hoagies which for some reason are a staple of the area–if you like onions! It’s just south of the intersection of Rts 253 and 53 and is open 7 days.
Pennywren’s Store has gas and diesel and food at the intersection of Beaver Valley Road and Rt 53, northeast of the park. This is very convenient if you are going to Beaver Valley Marina parking.
Noel’s Drive-In is southeast of the park at the intersection of Marina Road and St Augustine Rd. They have food and claim the “area’s best soft serve” but we have not tested that claim.
There are also options in the town of Patton west of the park, but the intersection of Glendale Lake Road and Rt 36 is very bad if towing a trailer. You may just want to support the local stores.