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.

 

Kings Gap’s unique attractions are its mountainous terrain, extensive forest and panoramic views, which may be experienced while driving the winding road to the mansion area, or while hiking the trails. The sweeping view of the Cumberland Valley from the Cameron-Masland Mansion is impressive at any time of the year.

Kings Gap Environmental Education Center is one of several state parks specifically dedicated to provide environmental education and interpretive programs to the citizens of Pennsylvania. A variety of programs are available for children, teachers and the general public that increase knowledge and awareness of the values and function of our natural resources. Whether enjoying Kings Gap through recreational activities, educational programs, or its scenic beauty, visitors can be inspired to become stewards of Pennsylvania’s outstanding natural resources.

Kings Gap consists of 2,531 acres of forest on South Mountain, with more than 18 miles of hiking trails, a permanent orienteering course, picnicking, hunting and other recreational and educational opportunities. The mansion provides facilities for meals and overnight lodging, and may be reserved for meetings, weddings, receptions and similar functions.

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Hiking   -  Picnicking   -  Hunting   -  Orienteering    Meetings and Trainings   -  Retreats   -  Weddings   -  Organized Group Tenting


Picnicking: Picnic tables are located throughout the center property. Drinking water is only available in the Mansion Area. Restrooms are available at the education building, Pine Plantation and Kings Gap Hollow areas.


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 navigate a designated course. Additional information on orienteering and copies of beginner course maps are available at the education building foyer. Additional course maps are available upon request. “Introduction to Orienteering” programs are offered in fall and spring.


The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hunting and Firearms: About 1,860 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey and squirrel. An additional 633 acres is listed and posted as no hunting. However, this area is open to deer hunting (both antlered and antlerless) from the first Monday after Thanksgiving through the third Saturday after Thanksgiving - the traditional deer season. This area is closed to all types of hunting during the remainder of the year. Hunters should be aware of “Safety Zones” both posted and not posted. Contact the center office for additional information on the hunting areas.

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: 20 miles of trails
Sturdy footwear is recommended due to the rocky footing on most trails. Trails are well marked, but taking a trail map on your hike is strongly recommended. Maps are available at the trailhead parking areas and the center office.

Trail Difficuly Ratings:

Ratings are based on technical challenge, not physical exertion.

Easiest: Elevation gain or loss is minimal, less than 5% slope, maximum 20% up to 100 feet

More Difficult: Elevation gain or loss is moderate, 12% slope, maximum 30% up to 300 feet

Most Difficult: Elevation gain or loss is usually severe, less than 18% slope, maximum 30+% up to 500 feet

Distances listed are one-way.

A family hikes on a moss-covered trail at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.1. Pine Plantation Trail: 0.6 mile, easiest hiking
This loop trail on soft pine needles has exhibits to explain management techniques used to thin trees within the 42-acre coniferous plantation.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.2. Whispering Pines Trail: 0.3 mile, paved, easiest hiking
This ADA accessible trail loops through the interior of the pine plantation.

3. Rock Scree Trail: 1.9 miles, more difficult hiking
This linear trail connects the Pine Plantation and Mansion areas by crossing over the ridge and rocky outcrop where Antietam quartzite was quarried to construct the mansion.

4. Ridge Overlook: 0.8 mile, most difficult hiking
This linear, ridge-top trail with boulder outcrops and a view of the valley below presents a more challenging hike. Rock Scree and Kings Gap Hollow trails provide access to Ridge Overlook Trail.

5. Forest Heritage Trail: 1.8 miles, more difficult hiking
This loop trail passes several charcoal hearths, unused for over 100 years. Maple Hollow and Rock Scree trails provide access to Forest Heritage Trail.

6. Maple Hollow Trail: 1.3 miles, more difficult hiking
This loop trail traverses a hollow with rich soils, plentiful water and resulting maple forest.

7. Woodland Ecology Trail: 0.6 mile, easiest hiking
Exhibits help hikers identify forest plants and interpret the ecology of a chestnut oak forest on this quiet, mossy loop trail.

8. Scenic Vista Trail: 2.5 miles, more difficult hiking
This linear trail offers rolling terrain on the way to a pleasant overlook. Benches are strategically placed to relax and enjoy the surrounding view of unbroken forest.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.9. White Oaks Trail: 0.3 mile, paved, easiest hiking
This ADA accessible loop trail has exhibits to interpret the ecology of a deciduous white oak forest.

10. Watershed Trail: 1.9 miles, more difficult hiking
This loop trail encompasses the headwaters for Kings Gap Hollow Run, including a rocky portion beside the stream with its many small pools and cascades.

11. Boundary Trail: 1.5 miles, most difficult hiking
This linear trail travels through an oak/pitch pine forest and blueberry/huckleberry understory.

12. Kings Gap Hollow Trail: 2.8 miles, more difficult hiking
This linear trail winds along its namesake stream as it follows the gap though the mountain.

13. Locust Point Trail: 1 mile, most difficult hiking
This trail loops off of Boundary Trail and then travels to a clearing created by fallen, dead locust trees that presents a view of Kings Gap Hollow.

14. Buck Ridge Trail: 6 miles, most difficult hiking
This linear trail links Kings Gap to Pine Grove Furnace State Park through Michaux State Forest using a network of rocky footpaths and old logging roads. The trail begins at the mansion and follows Scenic Vista Trail before heading into Michaux State Forest.

15. Black Gum Trail: 1.1 miles, more difficult hiking
This linear trail with an abundance of black gum (tupelo) trees follows the southwestern contour of the mountainside near the Mansion Area. Kings Gap Hollow and Forest Heritage trails provide access to Black Gum Trail.

16. Nature Trail: 0.2 mile, easiest hiking
This loop trail by the education building guides walkers through open forest on a safe and level circuit around the education building.

17. Cold Spring Overlook Trail: 0.04 mile, easiest hiking
This broad trail ends at a view of the Cold Spring Run Valley.


Stay the Night


Organized Group Tenting: This wooded area located in the Kings Gap Hollow Area has one site with a capacity of 30 people and may be reserved year-round by organized adult or youth groups. Reservations from 11 months up to two days in advance can only be made by calling toll-free 888-PA-PARKS, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Reservations two days or less in advance can be made by contacting the center’s office at 717-486-5031, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Explore organized group tenting for more information.


Meetings, Retreats and Trainings: The mansion is available to host meetings, retreats and trainings for government agencies, private businesses and non-profit organizations. Meeting rooms, food service and overnight accommodations are available from mid-April through mid-November. Contact the center office for additional information, availability, prices and to make a reservation.


Weddings, Receptions and Other Special Events: From sweeping views of mountains and the Cumberland Valley to the historical backdrop of the Cameron-Masland Mansion and surroundings, Kings Gap offers a unique setting for weddings and receptions. The mansion and grounds are available to rent for weddings, receptions and a variety of special events from mid-April through mid-November. Overnight accommodations are also available. Contact the center office for additional information, availability, prices and to make a reservation.


Access for People with Disabilities


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.