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 most suited for family outings and small groups. Picnicking, fishing, swimming, 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.
Make a reservation.
Swimming: A 350-foot swimming beach is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming. There is an ADA accessible beach house with restrooms and changing areas located near the beach and an ADA accessible ramp to the lake. Swimmers are reminded to leave the beach area at the first sign of a storm.
Fishing: The four-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 and Kooser Run is stocked with Brook trout. Night and ice fishing are not permitted 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: Because of the park's small size, hunting is not permitted 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 grouse.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 1 mile of trails
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Explore the campground map.
Explore camping for more information.
Make a reservation.
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 people 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, 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.
Explore the cabin map.
Explore cabins for more information.
Make a reservation.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: The park’s elevation and heavy snow falls 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 derives its name from John Kooser, who in 1867 settled in the western end of the park near what is now known as Kooser Spring. The early settlers told of an American Indian battle that was fought nearby. A number of war arrows and spearheads have been found in the area. A contingent of Washington’s Army, known as Coxe’s Army, crossed Laurel Summit near here during the Whiskey Rebellion.
The land for Kooser State Park was acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1922. In the late 1920s, the Van Dyke Area was used for summer tenting by people who would camp from early spring until late fall. In 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established in the western end of the park. The "CCC Boys" built new roads, fireplaces, cabins and a lake. In 1945, a tornado hit the area and did a tremendous amount of damage to Kooser's wooded areas.
For more information on the CCC, visit the Civilian Conservation Corps Online Archive.
In 1955, the present tent and trailer area was developed. Water was piped from Kooser Spring throughout the park and the original dam was rebuilt with a modern earth and concrete breast and an all-sand beach.
In 2002, Growing Greener money was used to add modern restrooms to the campground, cabin colony and make improvements to the day use area.
Keep in Touch
Add yourself to the DCNR's online community to receive info on this park, or parks in general.
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
To a park - find this park's address below
To a park's friends group - see above
To a park or the Bureau of State Parks - Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation www.paparksandforests.org
Through a purchase at a park gift shop
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.
Tell us What You Think
Contact this park with compliments, concerns and issues about the park.
Kooser State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. www.laurelhighlands.org
the Somerset Chamber of Commerce www.somersetcntypachamber.org
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. 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 Kosser 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) (99 kb, 3/11)
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.
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