Colonel Denning State Park
Colonel Denning State Park, in north central Cumberland County, is in Doubling Gap, so named by the “S” turn where Blue Mountain doubles back on itself. This feature may be seen from the Doubling Gap Vista in adjacent Tuscarora State Forest. The park has 273 acres of woodland and a 3.5-acre lake.
Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. The park office is open specific hours. The beach, overnight areas, and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours.
Picnicking: Numerous picnic tables and charcoal grills are scattered throughout the park. There are two picnic pavilions that may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Play equipment is near both picnic pavilions.
Swimming: The sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8:00 AM to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming.
Smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use this beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes or other handheld, lighted smoking devices.
Explore swimming for more information.
Boating: non-powered boats only
Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Fishing: The 3.5-acre Doubling Gap Lake has trout fishing. A fishing pier for people with disabilities is by the dam.
Doubling Gap Lake Depth Black-and-white Map (.pdf) (1,104 kb, 8/15)
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Many acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, squirrel and turkey. Hunting is also permitted on the adjacent Tuscarora State Forest.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s vehicle or enclosed trailer. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 2 miles of trails
The park is a trailhead for the 105-mile Tuscarora Trail.
Camping: vault toilets
Firewood and ice are for sale at the campground host site.
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Organized Group Tenting: Qualified adult and youth groups may reserve the organized group tenting area for overnight use. This walk-in space includes five tent pads, picnic tables, lantern holders and a large fire ring. The organized group campsite can accommodate a maximum size group of 20 people.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Cross-country Skiing: While there is no formal cross-country skiing trail system, skiing is permitted on existing roads and trails and in all areas of the park. Terrain is moderately hilly to mountainous.
Ice Skating: When conditions permit, the natural lake ice is monitored for ice skating in swimming area. Ice skating is at your own risk. Check the winter report for ice conditions. Skating is permitted from 8:00 AM until sunset.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
An environmental interpretor offers ecological and historical walks and programs, audiovisual programs, campfires, environmental education activities and youth programs during the summer season. A visitor center, exhibiting plants, animals and minerals found in the park, is open during the summer season.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
William Denning, (1737-1830) American Revolution veteran for whom the park is named, was never a colonel but he is deserving of a place in history for his manufacturing of wrought iron cannons. William Denning served his country as a sergeant from March 1778 to April 1780 in Nathaniel Irish’s Company of Artillery Artificers in Benjamin Flower’s Regiment. Denning was stationed just outside of Carlisle, Pa., at Washingtonburg Forge, now Carlisle Barracks. The forge provided armaments for the Continental Army, including cannons. It is at this forge that William Denning made wrought iron cannons in a process of welding gads (strips) of wrought iron in successive layers to produce a cannon lighter and better able to resist failure during firing than cast iron cannons.
Unfortunately, none of Denning’s cannons survive today. Historical documents help us imagine what Denning’s cannons looked like. It is not known when or who added the “colonel” to Sergeant William Denning’s name. After the Revolution, William Denning lived out his life near Newville, Pa, and is interred with his only son and daughter in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church cemetery in Newville. His monument reads “Blacksmith and Forger of Wrought Iron Cannon.”
Explore the Life of William Denning for more information.
The park became a state recreational area about 1930, under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and was developed formally in 1936 through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-111 in Perry County.
For more information on the CCC, explore the the CCC Years.
Keep in Touch
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Becoming a Conservation Volunteer is easy.
Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Join a Friends Group
The Friends of Colonel Denning State Park is volunteer-operated and staffed group is dedicated to the betterment, preservation and enjoyment of Colonel Denning State Park. website
Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Believing that each generation is responsible for leaving behind a better legacy of good conservation, the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) was created in 1999 to give supporters and users of Pennsylvania's parks and forests a positive way to contribute to the conservation of our publicly-owned properties. The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation welcomes the support of individuals and businesses who share a commitment to conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, scenic, and recreational areas of this commonwealth. www.paparksandforests.org
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
Do you take conservation personally? iConservePA is a Web site managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources whose vision is to inspire citizens to value their natural resources, engage in conservation practices and experience the outdoors. Take conservation personally.
Come Work with Us
Pennsylvania State Parks and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources offer a wide range of civil service and non-civil service jobs, from foresters, to rangers, to engineers, to educators, to botanists and so much more. Learn what is currently available.
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Colonel Denning State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau. www.visitcumberlandvalley.com
Tuscarora State Forest: Over 91,000 acres of state forest lands are adjacent to, and northwest of the park. These lands are open to the public. There are many scenic and historical features throughout these areas. 717-536-3191
Scenic Views: There are three scenic views on nearby state forest lands that can be reached by vehicle. Contact the park office for the locations of vistas.
Hemlocks Natural Area: This stand of old growth hemlock is about 20 miles from the park near New Germantown, Perry County. Information can be obtained by contacting Tuscarora State Forest.
State Game Land 169: Several thousand acres of State Game Land 169 are within ten miles of the park. These lands are primarily managed for upland game animals and deer. These lands lie between PA Routes 641 and 997 about five miles southwest of the park. 877-877-9107
Carlisle, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, York and Chambersburg are all within a one-hour drive of the park and accessible over major roadways.
Maps and Downloadables
Below are many of the maps and publications for this park. You can read them or download them and might need special software (all free) to view the publications.
You must have the free Adobe Reader to view the maps and brochures that are in pdf format (.pdf).
Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Lake Depth Map
Doubling Gap Lake Depth Black-and-white Map (.pdf) (1,104 kb, 8/15)
The park is eight miles north of Newville and nine miles south of Landisburg, along PA 233.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.28083 Long. -77.41837
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Colonel Denning State Park