Kooser State Park
In the heart of the Laurel Highlands at an altitude of 2,600 feet, Kooser State Park attracts visitors year-round to its 250 acres of forest and the beautiful trout stream that flows the full length of the park.
The park’s original design character was stamped by the Civilian Conservation Corps projects of the 1930s that established the existing lake and most of its use areas, its architecture and site details. The park’s basic appeal lies in its intimate areas which are best suited for family outings and small groups. Picnicking, fishing, hiking, camping, cross-country skiing and family cabins are the major park uses.
Picnicking: Many picnic tables and the Mighty Oak Picnic Pavilion are available for year-round picnics. There is also a small stone pavilion centered in the picnic area that is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fishing: The 4-acre Kooser Lake and Kooser Run are approved trout waters. Kooser Run is classified as a High Quality trout stream. Kooser Lake provides excellent fishing for trout, bass and blue gill, Kooser Run is stocked with trout. Night and ice fishing are prohibited on Kooser Lake.
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: Due to the park's small size, hunting is prohibited in the park. Hunters frequently camp in the park and walk to the Forbes State Forest lands that are adjacent to the park. Common game species are deer, turkey and black bear.
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.
Hiking: 1.5 miles of trails
Kincora Trail: 1.0 mile, more difficult hiking
Tree Army Trail: 0.5 mile, easiest hiking
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Rustic Cabins: There are nine rustic rental cabins available for year-round rental, with summer rentals on a weekly basis. The smallest sleeps four with the largest sleeping eight. A modern shower house is available in the cabin colony. Each cabin has mattresses on the beds as well as a refrigerator, microwave oven, stove and sink with hot water. Renters bring all cooking and sleeping supplies. The primary source of heat is provided by a wood burning stove. Cabin 23 is ADA accessible. Cabins 21 and 22 are dog friendly.
Explore the cabin map.
Explore cabins for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: The park’s elevation and heavy snowfall creates prime conditions for cross-country skiing. Park staff set track on 1.5 miles of ski trail, which is marked with blue diamonds. The trail is classified as “easiest” and is popular with beginners to experienced skiers.
A 20-mile cross-country ski touring concession is adjacent to the PA 653 parking area of nearby Laurel Ridge State Park. Fee required on this trail. View conditions and snow depth on the live Web cam.
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.
Kooser State Park is named for John Kooser and his descendants who in 1827, settled in the western end of the park near Kooser Spring. This original 920-acre tract was sold to the United Lumber Company in 1913. After the lumber company declared bankruptcy, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to purchase 2,730 acres, which included 720 acres of the original Kooser tract, for use as a forest reserve. In 1920, this area became part of Forbes State Forest. With the advent of affordable automobiles and the growing popularity of auto camping, the Kooser Public Camp was developed at the Van Dyke Spring in 1925. The camp was popular with travelers along PA 31 and included an open front lean-to, comfort station, tables and benches, fireplaces and garbage container.
In 1933, an area west of the Kooser Public Camp was selected as a site for a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-99. From 1934 until 1940, the CCC boys built a wooden and earthen dam creating a 4-acre lake, beach and bathhouse, a road around the lake, nine log cabins, trails, picnic areas, shelters, pavilions, park office, tree nursery and arboretum, as well as made improvements to Kooser and Van Dyke springs.
For more information on the CCC, explore The CCC Years.
A tornado in 1945 caused severe damage to the CCC facilities. From 1952 until 1954, the remaining CCC buildings were leased to a church group for use as a camp known as Camp Kincora.
Major redevelopment of the park took place from 1955 through 1957 and in 1962 the Bureau of State Parks took over the operation of the park.
Keep in Touch
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Like to spend time in the outdoors, meet friendly people and help make Pennsylvania State Parks great? Volunteering at a park might be for you.
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 Laurel Hill State Park Complex is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the Laurel Hill State Park Complex. It as an affiliate chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation, and is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization, which means that your contribution is tax deductible. Any money that you donate to the Friends will benefit the Laurel Hill State Park Complex directly. The Friends coordinate a wide variety of volunteer activities that benefit the parks. www.friendsoflhsp.org
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
Make a Donation
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Thank you for your support!
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 Natrual 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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Kooser State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. www.laurelhighlands.org
the Somerset Chamber of Commerce www.somersetcountychamber.com
Forbes State Forest: The 58,000-acre Forbes State Forest provides hunting, fishing, hiking, general recreation and the highest point in Pennsylvania, Mount Davis--3,213 feet. 724-238-1200.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail: This 70-mile backpacking trail goes from Ohiopyle State Park to the Conemaugh River near Johnstown. The PA 31 parking area and shelter are near Kooser State Park.
Laurel Hill State Park: This park is a gateway to thousands of acres of public lands and features a 64-acre lake.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. An enterprise of many partners, the evolving trail network celebrates the heritage of the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins and offers opportunities for hiking, bicycling, boating, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. National Park Service Passport Stamps for the trail are available at the Laurel Hill and Kooser park offices and at the visitor center in Ohiopyle. www.nps.gov/pohe/
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.
Kooser State Park Cabin Map (.pdf) (849 kb, 10/13)
Kooser State Park is on PA 31 midway between the Donegal and Somerset turnpike exits, at the eastern foothills of Laurel Mountain Summit. Kooser State Park is a one-hour drive from Johnstown or Pittsburgh.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.05983 Long. -79.22842
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.
Kooser State State Park