Pymatuning Programs & Activities

Pymatuning includes public and private land around Pymatuning Lake. This page covers what the Pennsylvania Game Commission has to offer visitors to the area.

Hours of Operation: Thurday through Sunday 8:30 a.m - 4 p.m. (Pymatuning Learning Center is currently closed for the season.)


Pymatuning is an Iroqois Indian name, probably from the Seneca tribe. It means "The Crooked-Mouth Man's Dwelling Place," with "crooked-mouth" referring to a Native American who was not famous for truth telling.

Pymatuning was once a lake, but after the glaciers came through more than 14,000 years ago, the land was flattened, leaving only a swamp.

In 1913, a severe flood caused the legislature to pass the Pymatuning Dam Act, authorizing the construction of the lake and appropriating $100,000 to initiate building a dam. Over the next 18 years, public and private organizations raised $3,717,739 to build the dam.

The Pymatuning Dam Act states that the primary purpose of the Pymatuning Reservoir shall be for the conservation of waters entering the Pymatuning Swamp and for regulating the flow of water in the Shenango and Beaver rivers.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission acquired some of the original acreage from the then Department of Forests and Waters in 1935, and set aside the upper reservoir as a game refuge.

Pymatuning lake is 16 miles long with 70 miles of shoreline, and a maximum depth of 35 feet. In all, the Pymatuning reservoir is made up of 25,000 acres - 17,000 water and 8,000 land.


Ford Island, part of the Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area offers many opportunities. A wide variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, inhabit the area. Visitors can watch wildlife by walking along designated hiking paths, and there's even a trail for physically challenged outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can also take a driving tour or just sit on benches to view wildlife.

Bird watching is a popular activity at Pymatuning, particularly for bald eagles. The area has long been a home for bald eagles. From 1963 through 1980, only three pairs at most were known to nest in Pennsylvania, and all were in the Pymatuning area. In recent years, bald eagles have begun nesting in many areas throughout Pennsylvania, but they still remain a popular attraction at Pymatuning. Eagles are now sighted frequently around the area and, with a spotting scope or binoculars, a bald eagle nest can be seen from the front patio of the Learning Center. Wildlife enthusiasts are permitted throughout the game lands on roads and public access areas. Just obey posted signs marking restricted areas.


The Pymatuning Wildlife Learning Center features learning-based exhibits and offers special programs and activities to make a visitor's experience more informative and entertaining.

The Learning Center, open April through September, is along Hartstown Road, just south of Linesville. Call 814-683-5545 for scheduling and any special events that may be offered.


More than 300 mounted specimens of native birds and mammals can be viewed. Habitat displays show many species in their natural surroundings. Exhibits feature endangered species, a bobcat cavern, wildlife and wetlands, birds of prey, and wildlife young.

A "Hunting Heritage Room," depicts the important role that hunting and trapping have played and will play in Pennsylvania's past, present and future.

Outside the learning center, exhibits have been created to show ways people can attract wildlife to their backyards. Bluebird boxes, a bat condominium, a purple martin colony and many other wildlife houses and feeders all provide exciting wildlife watching opportunities.


The quarter-mile nature trail is a short, easy walk along the east shore of Ford Island. Opportunities exist to see a variety of wildlife. Learning stations along the trail provide information on wildlife, habitat, and the Pymatuning region. A handout is available at the Learning Center to help hikers identify trees, shrubs and points of interest. The trail, which is self-guided and handicapped accessible, begins near the Learning Center and ends at the parking lot.


A variety of outdoor and wildlife related activities, fun for all ages, will test your knowledge of Pennsylvania's environment and wild critters. Fur identification, skull identification, and bird and mammal charts are among the challenges. Outdoors, try out the tree identification trail and "Whose Home is This?" activities.


Lectures, slide programs, videos and guided nature walks are offered, and specialized group programs are provided on a scheduled basis. Contact the Learning Center at (814) 432-3187 for more details.

Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave, Harrisburg Pennsylvania 17110-9797