Chapman State Park: The complete guide for camping

Chapman State Park Lake

Chapman State Park Camping Guide

Chapman State Park is located in the upper left of Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half from Erie.

Camping at Chapman State Park was a blast, as we went with a bunch of our friends. This was also the first trip with our RV. All camping trips before this one were in our Coleman Weathermaster tent.

The park is 862 acres and has a 68-acre lake that can be used for tons of activities. There is a really nice beach that is great for swimming and building sandcastles. You can also go boating or kayak on the lake.

Let’s get into the full camping review for Chapman State Park!

Chapman State Park Hiking

Maps

Here are all of the maps available for Chapman State Park, you can find the campsite map and recreational maps for hiking, biking, and snowmobiling.

Campsites

Camping at Chapman is full of variety. Most of the time, when camping in Pennsylvania, there are only a few options for campsites. Chapman has 13 walk-to sites, which is way more than usual.

Most state parks only have a few. Walk-to sites are great for what some would call the “real camping experience”.

In addition to walk-to campsites, there are electric sites for RVs and tents, some non-electric sites, five cabins, two yurts, and two group tenting sites.

Unfortunately, Chapman State Park does not have any Full-Hookup sites, but don’t let that deter you. There are multiple places to refill your water throughout the park.

Tent Camping

At Chapman, there is a bit of variety for tent camping. You can choose an electric site, a non-electric site, or a walk-to site.

As stated before, for the most authentic camping you can go to a walk-to site, but set up and tear down is harder since your car or truck isn’t right beside you.

Here is an example of a walk-to site. They’re not super far into the woods, but they are the best camping experience if you’re using a tent in my opinion.

RV Camping

I already mentioned that there aren’t any Full-Hookup sites, however, if you check the campground map, you’ll see that there are places to refill water everywhere.

We took our RV and six of our friends and only had to refill our water once. We mostly used the bathrooms available at the campground instead of the RV bathroom, we just washed our hands and used water for cooking and rinsing off after swimming at the beach. The bathrooms here are great, but we will get into that a bit later.

Here is an example site you can book for an RV with electricity. The electric sites are kind of close together, however, there are trees between each site usually so there is some level of privacy.

Cabins

Chapman State Park offers 3 cabins, with a maximum of 5 people per cabin. They have electricity but no bathrooms, and that’s pretty normal for cabins at PA state parks. Here is one of the cabins you can book. You can bring two dogs to cabin #1 for a fee.

Yurts

This is rather unique, Chapman has Yurts available for rent. You can check them out here. You can bring a maximum of 6 people and they do have electricity, but no bathrooms. That is normal for a Yurt.

Pets

As stated before, you can bring up to two dogs to cabin #1 for a fee. You can also bring your dog(s) to any campsite marked with the dog symbol on the pa state park booking site. There isn’t a maximum specified though, so you may need to call if you’re bringing more than two.

Amenities

Wifi and Cell Service

We were able to use our phones, we had about 6 other friends with us and we all have different carriers. The signal was about 2 bars, so not terrible but not great either. Chapman does not offer any Wifi.

It may be strange to see this section for a camping review, but if someone works remotely, it could be cool to camp here for a week while you work!

Water + Sewage

There are water hookups pretty much everywhere for RVs, about every 4-5 sites, so if you run out you can just hook up a hose. If you’re concerned you could just book a site super close to one so you don’t have to move!

There is only one sewage dump, which is normal, near the entrance of the park.

Bathrooms and Showers

The bathrooms and showers here are nice and newer. They are cleaned daily multiple times and we never had an issue with uncleanliness. The showers have a changing room attached for privacy. Sometimes there are issues with showers not being warm enough but these ones were great!

Things to do in Chapman State Park

Hiking

Chapman has about 14 miles of hiking trails in the Allegheny National Forest. There are lots of easier hiking trails with a few hard ones. If you’re new to hiking or just want to try it out, this is a great park for that!

Swimming

The beach at Chapman is maintained really well and is sandy. For most campsites, the beach is just a couple hundred feet away to walk, but you can also drive and park in the parking lot instead if you want.

Chapman State Park Lake

Kayaking

Since there is a lake, there is kayaking! Kayaks require registration, and the lake is 68 acres so there is plenty of space to move around.

Boating

Boating is also available here, with mooring for registered campers on the eastern side, and mooring on the western side for non-campers.

Fishing

There are warm water and cold water fish available at Chapman, and you can also do Ice Fishing if visiting in the winter. You can catch the following fish here:

  • Yellow perch
  • Largemouth bass
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Brook and brown trout
  • Bluegill

Ice thickness is not monitored by the park. If you plan to do Ice Fishing, I encourage doing some research on it first. There is some more information available for this on the state park website here.

Biking

There are no dedicated mountain biking trails here, but the roads throughout the park are suitable for biking.

Sledding

In the winter, there are some hills you can use for sledding. There is some lighting for the sledding area, and a warming hut so you can fend off the cold.

Ice Skating

There is an ice rink available at Chapman in the winter, and it is illuminated at night. The rink is located near the park office.

You can also skate on the lake when appropriate, however, the ice thickness of the lake is not monitored. If you plan to go Ice Skating, please proceed with caution and do some research on this first.

Skiing

There are about 4.4 miles of Ski trails at Chapman, and as mentioned before there is a warming hut that can be used by those skiing as well as sledding.

Things to do outside Chapman State Park

Honestly, there isn’t much in the area since the park is in the middle of a forest, click the links below to start navigating.

Hearts Content Recreation Site (20 min drive)

This is a small recreational site with some trails and some cool old trees.

Kinzua Dam (24 min drive)

This is a worthwhile visit just for photo opportunities. If you’ve never visited the Kinzua Dam, I’d say its worth the 24 minute drive.

Groceries near Chapman State Park

Something we always do is check for local grocery stores. Sometimes you forget something, or maybe you want to get groceries after getting to the campsite. Just remember, when camping you may not have cell service, so take note of these locations beforehand just in case. You can click the links below to start navigating.

Dollar General (15 min drive)

If you just need some basics, Dollar General is always nearby.

Kondak’s Market (10 min drive)

This is the closest grocery store. If you prefer supporting small businesses, this is the one to go to!

ALDI (26 min drive)

If you need a full selection, ALDI has the best bargains.

Walmart (24 minute drive)

If you need groceries, bug spray, and maybe a warmer hoodie, Walmart might be the place to go.

Final Thoughts

Camping at Chapman was great! There are lots of activities both in the summer and winter months, although camping is only available until mid December. The beach was the selling point for us, along with the easy and peaceful hiking trails.

Hopefully, this inspired you to plan your next camping trip. For more camping guides in PA state parks, check out this category.

Leave a comment below if you’ve visited this park and let us know your thoughts!

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