Little Buffalo State Park

Little Buffalo State Park

Certain places just attract people. The cool, clear water of Little Buffalo Creek has been attracting people for centuries. American Indians frequented Little Buffalo Creek on hunting trips. Farmers and merchants used to gossip and pass news while the grain was ground at Shoaff’s Mill. Nearby, merchants, local people and travelers met at Blue Ball Tavern. Today, thousands of people meet at Little Buffalo State Park to picnic, swim, fish, hike and experience nature and history.

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Image Credit: Little Buffalo State Park


Dawn to dusk.

Swimming Pool Hours:

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)



Swimming rates:
Swimmer $6 per day
Senior Swimmer $4 per day
Late arrival (after 4:00pm) $5 per day
Children under 42"-- Free
Park camper or cabin renter with receipt $4 per day

Booklets of 20 tickets are available at a discounted price as well as season passes. For these prices go to the website.


Picnicking and Picnic pavilions; picnic tables, restrooms, horseshoe pits, and a playground.

Little Buffalo Historic District is open year-round.

A state-of-the art swimming pool which is nearly half an acre in size sits along Holman Lake and is accessible for people with disabilities. Swimming is prohibited in Holman Lake.

Boating: There are two public boat launches on the north side of Holman Lake. Mooring sites for private boats are available for a fee from April 1 to November 1.
A boat rental is next to the swimming pool and operates the weekend of Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, unless otherwise posted. Canoes, rowboats and pedal boats are available.

Fishing: The 88-acre Holman Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. This warm water fishery enjoys natural reproduction of largemouth bass, catfish and panfish. An ADA accessible fishing pier is by the Main Boat Launch.

Hunting and Firearms: About 300 acres of Little Buffalo State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, grouse, rabbit, pheasant and squirrel. Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.

Recreation Hall: Located in the campground, the rentable Recreation Hall seats 200 people for wedding receptions, family gatherings and meetings. Contact the park office for reservations and additional information.

Hiking: 8 miles of trails, some rocky.

Volksmarching: Governed by the American Volksport Association and the International Federation of Popular Sports, Volksmarchers earn awards for hiking.

Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups, and Camping Cottages and a modern cabin.

Cross-country Skiing and Ice Fishing are popular in winter.

Environmental education and interpretive programs: hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, curriculum-based environmental education programs, teacher workshops.

Programs are offered year-round, as are special events. For more detailed information contact the park office.


It is unknown why the stream is called Little Buffalo Creek or the adjacent ridge is called Buffalo Ridge, but local tradition holds that the buffalo, also called bison, inhabited the area.

The land was originally occupied by many American Indian tribes and nations as they migrated away from the increasing European population. The Albany Purchase of 1754 acquired the land from the Iroquois League of Six Nations.

After the American Revolution settlers farmed the fertile land, a lifestyle that continues even today. John Koch opened the Blue Ball Tavern in 1811 along the Carlisle Pike, the main road between Carlisle and Sunbury, currently called the New Bloomfield Road.

In 1808, David Watts of Carlisle built a charcoal burning iron furnace along Furnace Run just south of the present day park.

The Juniata Iron Works smelted iron until the prized hardwoods used in charcoaling were depleted around 1848. Visitors can see remains from these “burns” along Buffalo Ridge Trail. Look for the 20' to 25' diameter circles of darkened earth along the trail.

About 1840, as part of the iron works community, the company built a water-powered gristmill which served the neighboring farms long after the furnace fell silent. Shoaff’s Mill operated until 1940. Farming continued to be the main use for the land until the 1960s.

After land was purchased for the park, it officially opened its doors on June 11, 1972.


Last updated: July 08, 2022