M. K. Goddard State Park is found in Mercer County in Northwest Pennsylvania. The bigget lure to "Goddard State Park" is Lake Wilhelm which offers year-round fishing. M. K. Goddard State Park was named after Maurice K. Goddard who was instrumental in the founding of many of Pennsylvania's State Parks. Lake Wilhelm makes up 1,860 acres of the park's 2,856 acres. Lake Wilhelm is a man-made lake named in honor of Lawrence J. Wilhelm. He was a Mercer County Commissioner in the 1960s.
Lake Wilhelm is fed by Sandy Creek which was prone to frequent flooding years ago. So the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did a flood control study in 1939. Subsequently the U.S. Soil Conservation Service pursued the construction of a dam for flood control and soil conservation. Probably too much good topsoil was being washed away. Over time, the necessary land was acquired and by 1971 the dam was built. The park was dedicated a year later.
We rent a pontoon boat from time to time at the park. Canoes and rowboats are also available or you can bring your own. Just make sure that its registered properly. There is a 200 slip marina with a four-lane boat launch. There are seven other boat launches along the 6 mile long lake. The most fun is renting a pontoon boat for the day. Once you get all of your gear on board without claiming a goose cigar (they are everywhere) its time for some fun. The geese not only stop by the hundreds in the spring and fall but they sometimes hang out all summer.
The pontoon boats, as well as any power boat on Lake Wilhelm, are limited to motors with 10 HP or less. The marina and park office are all at the shallow end of the lake so a ride down to the dam can take almost an hour. But who's in a hurry? You can play cards and drink beer and smoke cigars (tobacco cigars) and even wet a line. I caught my first fish there a few years ago. My son caught his first fish a few years before I did. He was only five or six years old. I was in my late thirties.
Rod and reel........$25.00
tackle box..........hand-me down
Having your kid catch his first fish...... priceless.
I lost a pair of glasses in Lake Wilhelm the first time I was there. We were swimming down at the dam end. I don't know if we were permitted or not but it was a beautiful sunny day. I always swim with my glasses on and without thinking just dove right in the water from the boat. I felt the force of the water pull them right off and they hit my foot on their way to the lake bottom. I instantly dove to where I last felt them. I went down as far as I could grasping blindly as the water was turning darker shades of brownish green. They were gone. They are probably still down there with my name engraved on one of the stems. What are the chances of someone catching a fish wearing a pair of glasses?
Once you get off of the lake there are many other activities available in the park. Of course you can fish from shore if you don't have use of a boat. There is a trail around the perimeter of the lake with many picnic areas with rest rooms. The trail includes 14 miles of hiking trails and a six mile mountain bike trail. By connecting to a road around the lake cyclists can do a 12.5 mile loop. There are many varieties of wildlife too. Bald eagles which were once nearly extinct have been thriving in the park and surrounding areas.
M. K. Goddard State Park is also popular in the winter months. Many of the largest fish caught on the lake are my anglers ice fishing. Ice boating is an option as long as you have everything properly registered. Ice skating is available at one of the launch areas and there is a nice sled riding hill down by the dam. There are four miles of snowmobile trails and some of the roads around the park double as usable trails for snowmobilers. There are eight miles of trails for cross-country skiing for the experienced as well as the beginner.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (www.dcnr.state.pa.us)