Kings Gap Environmental Education Center

A park education talks with young park visitors at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania State Parks.

Environmental Education

The center provides a wide variety of activity-oriented programs for students, teachers, adult groups and individuals.


Sitting astride South Mountain, Kings Gap offers a panoramic view of the Cumberland Valley. Sixteen miles of hiking trails interconnect three main areas and are open year-round. Kings Gap offers environmental education programs from the pre-school environmental awareness program to environmental problem solving programs.

The grounds are open to the public year-round from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Sixteen miles of hiking trails connect with three main day use areas of the center: Pine Plantation Day Use Area, Pond Day Use Area and Mansion Day Use Area. A 32-room stone mansion on the mountaintop houses the center's office and the training center. The office is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and weekends and evenings when a public program is scheduled. A schedule of programs is available from the center office or at the three day use areas.

The mansion serves as the William C. Forrey Training Center for the Commonwealth, providing meals and overnight lodging for government agencies. The comfortable surroundings make it an ideal location for productive work sessions and meetings. The training center has a maximum day use capacity for 45 people and accommodates 23 people overnight.

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A park educator instructs children in how to use at compass at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.

Orienteering: A permanent orienteering course is located at Kings Gap. Orienteering is a sport that involves using a map and compass to negotiate a designated course. Additional information on orienteering and copies of the course map are available at the center office.

The center offers programs on orienteering for beginners in the fall and spring.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hunting and Firearms: Several hundred acres of Kings Gap Environmental Education Center are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey and squirrel. Special anterless deer hunting occurs. Contact the center office for information.

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 car, trailer or leased campsite. 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.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hiking: 16 miles of trails
Trailheads for the 16 miles of hiking trails are located at the three day use areas.

A family hikes on a moss-covered trail at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.Boundary Trail: This trail skirts the western boundary of Kings Gap as it travels through an oak/pitch pine forest and blueberry/huckleberry understory. (1.5 miles, easy to moderate)

Forest Heritage Trail: This loop trail connects several prominent charcoal hearths. Although the hearths have been inactive for over 100 years, most of them remain fairly free of vegetation due to changes in soil caused by the charcoaling process. (1.6 miles, easy to moderate)

Kings Gap Hollow Trail: A cool, inviting trail filled with a lush understory of ferns, this trail winds along the stream and follows the gap in the mountain. The terrain changes to a dry, higher elevation that brings the hiker to the mountaintop. (1.7 miles, easy)

Locust Point Trail: This side loop from Boundary Trail travels through a ridge top forest of chestnut and pitch pine trees. A clearing created by fallen, dead locust trees affords a view of the Cumberland Valley and Kings Gap Hollow. (1 mile, easy to moderate)

Maple Hollow Trail: This trail takes the hiker through a maple hollow with its deeper, richer soils, plentiful water supply and the resulting maple forest. In contrast, the trail loops back to the parking lot through the drier, less fertile chestnut oak forest which comprises much of Kings Gap. (1.3 miles, easy to moderate)

Pine Plantation Trail: A short loop, this trail allows the visitor to view the management techniques used in the thinning of the 42-acre plantation. (0.6 miles, easy)

Ridge Overlook: A ridge-top trail with boulder outcrops, turkey vultures and view of the valley below await the individual who is looking for a more challenging hike. (0.8 miles, moderate to difficult)

Rock Scree Trail: Beginning in the pine plantation, this trail leads hikers past the rocky ridge where stone cutters quarried the rock used to construct the mansion. The trail takes the hiker up the mountain to the mansion and a magnificent view of the valley. (1.9 mile, easy to moderate)

Scenic Vista Trail: As the name suggests, this trail offers an inspiring view. Benches are strategically placed for you to relax and enjoy the view of Michaux State Forest. (2.5 miles, easy to moderate)

Watershed Trail: This loop trail encompasses the headwaters for Kings Gap Hollow Run. Hikers also can view the circular colonies of Allegheny mound building ants which usually dot the trail. (1.8 miles, easy to moderate)

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Whispering Pines Trail: This trail loops through the interior of the pine plantation and uses both Braille and script signs to interpret the coniferous forest. (0.3 miles, paved)

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.White Oaks Trail: Traveling through a white oak forest, this loop trail uses both Braille and script signs to interpret the ecology of a deciduous forest. (0.3 miles, paved)

Woodland Ecology Trail: Informational signs help hikers identify forest plants and interpret the ecology of a chestnut oak forest. (0.6 miles, easy)

Access for People with Disabilities

The restroom, picnic pavilion and the paved Whispering Pine Trail in the Pine Plantation Day Use Area are ADA accessible. White Oaks Trail in the pond Day Use Area is paved and ADA accessible.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.