BRENT PENNINGTON Fog clings to the evergreen forest around Wild Creek, just upstream from Wild Creek Cove on Beltzville Lake, in Beltzville State Park, on the morning of 28 August 2015.

For the last weekend in August, I decided that I needed to do something special to celebrate the last weekend of summer.  As I’ve mentioned before, one of my long-term projects involves visiting and photographing each of Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks and conservation areas, and it’s been a while since I’ve made any major progress on that goal.

At the same time, my fiancee was heading to Manhattan with friends for her bachelorette party, and the mere mention of that accursed island was enough to get me on the read in the opposite direction.  I drove west, towards central PA, with the idea that I’d visit five state parks and possibly try my hand at camping for the first time.

As so often happens, the plan evolved once it was put into motion.  My state park blitz began a day early, with a day-trip to kayak at Beltzville State Park.  And later, once out in center-state, my five parks grew to eight.

I’ll be posting about each of the parks below in the coming weeks, and each time I add a new post, its name in the list below will become an active link to take you there.

Beltzville State Park: on the big waters

Milton State Park: an island in the stream

Sand Bridge State Park: a good place for a picnic

BRENT PENNINGTON Rapid Run spills over the tiny, geometric dam at Sand Bridge State Park on the afternoon of 29 August 2015. Photographed during the State Park Blitz.

McCalls Dam State Park: at the intersection of no and where

Raymond B Winter State Park: a heck of a nice place!

Ravensburg State Park: shades of green

Upper Pine Bottom State Park: the postage stamp park

Little Pine State Park:  I should’ve brought the boat!

BRENT PENNINGTON View of Raymond B Winter State Park and the surrounding hills from the Overlook Trail. 29 August 2015

I do want to point something out: I’m well aware that a hour-or-two visit to a park, while enough to check it off my master list, doesn’t hardly qualify as enough time for me to feel that I’ve fully documented it, exhausted its potential, or even done it justice.  Heck, to be fair, in almost every case I wasn’t there long enough to physically see all of the park.

In fact, even among my local parks, which I’ve visited regularly for the past six years, there are still sections that I haven’t gotten around to exploring.  And where I have made tracks, there are spots that I return to time and time again because they’re just that good, and even with all the visits I haven’t tapped out their photographic potential.

So don’t take this as a definitive statement on each of these parks.  There are some of them that I will definitely visit again – some that I’m already excited to visit again.  And there are others that I doubt I’ll see again, except perhaps by happenstance.

I wasn’t able to visit all of them during their prime seasons, during prime light, under prime conditions.  It was catch-as-catch-can in the time I had available.  But that said, it’s still one hell of a good start, and in many cases I was very pleased with what I came home with, both the experiences and the photos.

So here goes…

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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