Frances Slocum consists of 1,035 acres of wooded areas, hiking trails, and a lake in Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Northwest of the Wyoming Valley, this Back Mountain feature is a popular year-round destination for locals and visitors alike.
By the 18th century, Europeans had already begun settling the densely forested region that is now known as the Back Mountain. On July 3, 1778, tensions between settlers and the native population increased when a battle took place in and around present-day Wyoming. The encounter occurred between American Patriots and Loyalists accompanied by Iroquois raiders. More than 300 Patriots lost their lives in the battle.
In the wake of the Wyoming massacre, American settlers living within the Susquehanna River Valley were fearful. Four months after the massacre, a small group of Delaware Native Americans entered the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Slocum in present-day Wilkes-Barre and carried off one of the family’s 10 children. Frances Slocum was just five at the time of her abduction.
Upon leaving the Slocum residence, the group spent a night in a crude rock shelter along Abraham Creek. It is believed that this rock ledge is within the boundaries of the state park, which was named after her. Though she tried to escape, Frances was recaptured and taken west.
Almost 60 years after her abduction, Frances’s brothers found her living on a reservation near Peru, Indiana. She did not wish to return to Pennsylvania, though she wrote to her brothers and recounted many of the details surrounding her abduction and life with the Native Americans. Frances’s other name was Mocanaquah, or “Young Bear.”
Frances Slocum died in Indiana in 1847. The Mississinewa Reservoir and State Forest in Indiana contain the Frances Slocum State Recreational Area and Lost Sister Trail. There is also a monument which marks her final resting place.
Frances Slocum Lake was built in 1968 to help control flooding in the North Branch Susquehanna River basin. The Park was then built around the dam and lake. In 1972, 280 families displaced by the flooding from Hurricane Agnes. During this time, the park was closed to the public and didn’t open again until 1974.
Today, this popular state park is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. A man-made lake, hiking and mountain biking trails, and picnic areas are just a few of the many features that attract visitors to this destination.
Frances Slocum State park has over 13 miles of hiking trails designated by “blazes.” The trails are dog-friendly. Park rules require owners to leash their dogs at all times.
This trail passes through fields and mixed forests in the northern portion of the park.
Buck and Doe Trails: 0.8 and 0.3 miles. View stone walls, old fields, and pass through stands of pines on these trails that connect to the Maconaquah Trail in several places.
Campers can access this trail from either the Stony Point parking lot or from behind the Organized Group Tenting Area. A short stretch of Campground Trail follows Larch Tree Trail.
This trail begins at the environmental education center and passes through a number of diverse habitats, including lakeshore, thicket, hemlock stand, marsh, and forest. Note: A portion of this trail passes through hunting lands. Always use caution when hiking in hunting seasons.
This trail parallels the Deer Trail through mixed hardwood hillside.
This loop trail begins and ends at the boat rental parking lot. On this trail, hikers go through the forest and can see the rock shelter where Frances Slocum may have stayed the night of her capture.
The trailhead is on Green Road. Hilltop Trail is the starting point to access all trails on the western side of the park. This trail can also be hiked as a short loop.
This trail starts at the Campground Road bridge or the Big Pines Picnic Area and follows the lake shore. The trail is a popular path with shore anglers.
This hilly trail loops around the northeast corner of the park and through a large stand of larch trees.
This trail begins and ends on Carverton Road and intersects other trails.
Besides hiking trails, the park also features 5 miles of mountain biking trails. Located on the west side of the park, these trails range in difficulty from easiest to more difficult. Red Blazes designate all Mountain Biking trails.
Picnics don’t have to be an exclusive summer activity—many of the picnic areas at Slocum are open year-round. Picnic facilities include drinking water fountains, restrooms, trash and recycling receptacles, charcoal grills, and charcoal disposal pits. All areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Three ADA-accessible picnic pavilions are available for reservation up to 11 months in advance for a fee.
If you’re looking to stay the night, a 100-site campground is available from the second Friday in April to the third Sunday in October. Fifteen of these are walk-in tent sites while the other 85 can accommodate tents or trailers. Larger sites have electric hookups and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. For bathing, the park has a modern bathhouse with showers, flush toilets, and drinking water. Potable water is also available.
For large groups, organized group tenting is available to accommodate up to 40 people.
Note: pets are permitted in designated camp sites.
You can download the Frances Slocum State Park Campground Map (PDF) here.
For more information on campground services and amenities or to make a reservation, go to pennsylvaniastateparks.reserveamerica.com.
Frances Slocum’s 165-acre, horseshoe-shaped lake is popular for boating and fishing.
The lake has two boat launches, two mooring areas, and courtesy docks. Feel free to bring your own boat, canoe, or kayak. Or, if you don’t have your own, you can rent a rowboat, paddleboat, or canoe from the boat concession.
Note: only electric and non-powered boats are permitted in Frances Slocum Lake.
In the warm-water fishery, fishermen can expect to catch crappie, bluegill, walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, and smallmouth and largemouth bass.
During the winter months, the lake is open for ice fishing and ice skating.
The swimming pool is open to the public daily from 11 am to 7 pm between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day (unless otherwise posted). There is a fee for pool use: $5 per person and children under 42 inches are free. Seasonal pool passes are also available. A seasonal snack bar within the pool area sells food and beverages.
Natural and cultural history programs led by a park environmental educator are available from March through November at the Patrick J. Solano Environmental Education Center. The building, which sits near Frances Slocum Lake in the day use area, features exhibits on American Indians and the ecology of the park.
For more information on what Frances Slocum State Park has to offer, visit DCNR’s website here.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.