Best Places to Run in Western PA: Maurice K. Goddard State Park

We recently uploaded a new video to our Wolf Creek Race Management Youtube channel highlighting Maurice K. Goddard State Park in Mercer County from a running perspective. This is the sixth video in a series of reviews of the best running destinations in Western Pennsylvania. We will be releasing a new video on a new park or trail each week.

Maurice K. Goddard State Park, located just north of the town of Sandy Lake in Mercer County, PA is a 2,856-acre park with a sprawling 1,860-acre lake. The park is named after Maurice K. Goddard who served as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Bureau of Forests and Waters from 1955 to 1979. Goddard’s mission was to have a state park within 25 miles of every resident in Pennsylvania. During his 24 years of service under 6 governors, Goddard added 45 state parks and 130,000 acres of state park land to Pennsylvania.

Lake Wilhelm is the number one attraction at M.K. Goddard State Park. The lake is a popular boating and fishing destination. Looping Lake Wilhelm is the 12-mile, paved John C. Oliver multi-purpose trail. This 12-mile paved loop is well-shaded and offers sweeping views of the lake. The loop has approximately 600 feet of total elevation. One downside to the loop is the path can sometimes be slick since it is very well shaded in portions.

Not only does M.K. Goddard State Park offer the 12-mile paved lake loop, but it has 4 miles of single-track trails and a 6 mile stretch of dirt road. Creek Road, which parallels a portion of the paved path, offers a nearly 6 mile stretch of a relatively flat, dirt road. Dirt roads are hard to find in much of Western PA, so this is definitely a standout feature of the park. This 6 mile dirt road presents a great opportunity for an out-n-back long run on a forgiving surface on the legs. Runners could also choose to do the lake loop and tack on miles on the dirt surface. 

M.K. Goddard State Park’s stunning scenery and variety of running options & surfaces make it a must-visit location in Western PA for any runner or outdoor enthusiast.