Begin Main Content Area

Alert iconEffective Thursday, November 3, 2022: All designated state forest campsites will be reserved through the Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservations website.

To learn about the reservation system and why this change was made, please see the DCNR Bureau of Forestry Camping Reservation System Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

Camping in Weiser State Forest

Weiser State Forest provides a variety of campsites throughout Dauphin and Schuylkill counties. These remote sites allow campers to truly get away from it all and enjoy relaxing solitude and dark night skies.

A number of trails and other scenic points of interest allow for additional exploration in the forest.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of these valuable natural resources and recreation opportunities, be sure to practice Leave No Trace Principles.

Motorized, Roadside Camping at Designated Sites

Motorized camping or roadside camping is defined as overnight camping in or near a vehicle where the vehicle is used for storage or transportation. This type of camping may only be done at designated campsites and always requires a permit.

There are no developed facilities, modern conveniences, or other improvements at state forest campsites. Visitors must take trash with them upon departure.

There are three types of motorized, roadside camping opportunities in Weiser State Forest:

  • Roadside campsites are singular, remote sites located along dirt and gravel state forest roads. They may be pull offs or have a short driveway. These sites allow for overnight camping in or very near a vehicle. Depending on layout, the sites may accommodate different types of equipment such as tents, small RVs, or trailers. These receive minimal maintenance.

  • Roadside hike-in campsites are singular, remote, and tent-only sites with designated parking along a dirt and gravel state forest road and a defined trail or gated road that is followed to the campsite. These campsites offer more solitude than most roadside campsites, but still allow easy access to a vehicle for storage and transportation. Hike-in distances vary, so be sure to check campsite attributes in the reservation system.

  • State forest equestrian campsites are situated in a campground setting and usually laid out for and include amenities specifically for horses. These may include things such as hitching posts and manure pits. Additionally, riding opportunities are found nearby. Most of these campgrounds are for equestrian use only, but some may allow other campers during the off season. These sites are not recommended for individuals without horses.

There are 17 designated motorized, roadside campsites available on four Weiser State Forest tracts, where campers will find a:

  • Parking pad
  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring

The state forest equestrian campsites at the Mud Run Equine Camping Area in the Haldeman Tract are specifically designed to accommodate horseback riders. All sites include high lines, picnic table, and fire ring.

Additional details about the Mud Run Equine Camping Area include:

  • The sites consist of three single sites (HE1, HE2, and HE4) and one double site (HE3), which includes two sets of high lines.
  • HE1 and HE3 are pull-through sites. HE2 and HE4 are back-in sites. There is also a common gathering area that offers two picnic tables and a fire ring.
  • Equine campsites do not offer water or restrooms on site; however, there is a nearby restroom at the Minnich Hit Picnic Area.
  • Manure must be hauled off of state forest land. 
  • Day use parking is not permitted at these campsites.

Check campsite details to determine the suitability for your equipment and desired experience.

Permits and Reservations for Motorized, Roadside Campsites

Camping permits and reservations are required to stay at motorized, roadside campsites.

Reservations can be made online at the Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservation website at any time, or by calling 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), Monday through Saturday, 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. 

Motorized, roadside campsites may be reserved up to eleven months in advance.

Use the Interactive Pennsylvania State Forest Camping Sites GIS Map to view locations and visit the Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservation website to see pictures and additional detailed information on each campsite.

Stays are limited to seven nights at a motorized, roadside campsite.

Check in and check out time is 3:00 P.M. Campers must vacate for at least 48 hours before returning. Please be considerate of other visitors’ opportunities to use this valued resource.

Please review your permit for additional rules and conditions.

Primitive Backpack Camping

Backpack campers are permitted to camp in most areas of the forest without a permit if staying no more than one night in any location.

Backpackers may camp overnight anywhere except:

  • In designated Natural Areas
  • Within 200 feet of a forest road
  • Within 25 feet of a trail
  • Within 100 feet of a stream or any open water

Backpack camping is typically done at trailside campsites and does not allow for access to motorized vehicles during overnight stays.

Primitive, trailside camping is part of an overall backcountry travel experience.

It involves hiking from campsite to campsite, far from your vehicle and nearby buildings, roads, and trailheads where you will find no modern conveniences or campsite improvements.

The Appalachian Trail, Weiser State Forest hiking trails, and shared-use trails can be used to form short loops or out-and-back overnight trips.

If camping along the Appalachian Trail, please be considerate of through-hikers and observe any posted regulations regarding group sizes.

Note that the Appalachian Tra traverses different land ownerships which may manage camping differently.

Remember, if you are camping close enough to your vehicle to access it to store gear and supplies, you are not primitive camping -- you are roadside, or motorized, camping.

A permit and reservation is always required for motorized, roadside camping, and it is only permitted at designated sites. Please plan appropriately.

Primitive Backpack Camping Permits

A free primitive camping permit is required if a backpacker desires an emergency point-of-contact or if a campfire is requested during the annual spring wildfire season (March, April, and May). 

Camping permits are also required for primitive backpack camping at the same site for more than one night.

To request a primitive backpacking permit in Weiser State Forest, please contact the district office at 570-875-6450.

Water Trail Camping

More than 20 river island campsites are located along the 51-mile Susquehanna River Trail Middle Section between Sunbury and Harrisburg.

The sites are located on DCNR islands and are available for overnight camping for individual and small groups floating the Susquehanna River.

Groups of 10 people or less may stay no more than two nights at any one campsite. Permits are not required.

The Susquehanna River Trail Association provides oversight and maintenance of these sites.

Group Camping

Backpacking or motorized, roadside camping groups of more than 10 people must obtain a Letter of Authorization from the state forest.

These are processed through the Weiser State Forest district office and may take up to two to three weeks to obtain. Please plan accordingly.

Two Weiser State Forest campsites are larger group sites that accommodate the needs of:

  • Scouts
  • Churches
  • Similar organizations


Campfires are not permitted when the fire danger is high, very high, or extreme; and from March 1 through May 25, unless authorized by Weiser State Forest.

Additionally, if the camping date is several days away or more, campfire permission may not be determined until closer to the dates of the camping trip.

Winter Camping

State forest roads do not receive winter maintenance and are not plowed --motorized, roadside camping access is not guaranteed. Travel at your own risk.

Contact Information

Contact the Weiser State Forest district office at 570-875-6450 for more information. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., closed state holidays. 

Enjoy your stay in the Weiser State Forest!