Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Steeped in natural and historical features, the 696-acre Pine Grove Furnace State Park is on beautiful South Mountain in southern Cumberland County. Surrounded by Michaux State Forest, Pine Grove Furnace features two lakes, 25-acre Laurel Lake and 1.7-acre Fuller Lake, a historic area and the Appalachian Trail.
Hiking - Biking - Picnicking - Swimming - Boating - Fishing - Hunting - Education - Cross-country Skiing - Snowmobiling - Ice Skating - Ice Fishing - Organized Group Tenting - Cabin - Camping - Ironmaster's Mansion - Appalachian Trail Museum
Picnicking: Many picnic tables are scattered in several locations of the park. Charcoal grills, drinking water and restrooms are available. Three picnic pavilions, with seating up to 140, may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Make a reservation.
Swimming: Two beaches are open from May 1 to September 30, 8 a.m. to sunset. Laurel Beach is swim at your own risk. Lifeguards are on duty at Fuller Beach from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day unless otherwise posted. Please follow posted rules for swimming when lifeguards are off duty.
Swimmers at Laurel Lake and especially at Fuller Lake are advised to exercise caution because of the extreme depths and cold subsurface waters.
In the summer season, a snack bar is available at each beach.
Boating: electric motors only
Boating is permitted only on the 25-acre Laurel Lake, which has a boat launch, 85 mooring spaces and a boat rental.
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. 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.
Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Fishing: The common fish in the 25-acre Laurel Lake and the smaller 1.7-acre Fuller Lake are pickerel, bass, perch and stocked trout. Mountain Creek, which flows through the park, has brown, brook and rainbow trout. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations apply.
Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Over 75 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, rabbit, pheasant and squirrel.
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. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Biking: 2 miles of trails
Hiking: 4 miles of trails
Buck Ridge Trail: 6 miles - This trail through the Michaux State Forest connects Kings Gap Environmental Education Center and Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The trailhead is across from the park office and is marked with yellow paint blazes.
Creek Trail: 0.5-mile - Begin at the amphitheater and wind past vernal ponds and a stand of white pine along Mountain Creek near the camping area.
Mountain Creek: 1.4-mile - This trail is a link between the bicycle trail to Fuller Lake and the Icehouse Road to Laurel Lake. The trail affords the hiker an alternate path to Laurel Lake Day Use area other than the paved roadway. This trail winds along scenic Mountain Creek. The trail meanders through forests and wetlands as it follows Mountain Creek downstream to Laurel Lake. Deer, heron, waterfowl and beaver can be seen along this trail.
Koppenhaver Trail: 1-mile - Begin this scenic, yellow-blazed loop trail at the far end of Fuller Ball Field. The footpath crosses Toms Run and passes through stands of mature pines and hemlocks.
Pole Steeple Trail: 0.75-mile - This blue-blazed Michaux State Forest trail contains some steep climbs. The entire park can be viewed from the Pole Steeple Overlook, which is a quartzite rock outcropping. The trail begins at the Pole Steeple parking lot, along the Railroad Bed Road by Laurel Lake, and proceeds up Piney Mountain to the rocky overlook.
The steep grade and sheer drop may stress some individuals. Parents are advised to closely supervise children, especially when they are on the rocks and ledges.
Swamp Trail: 0.25-mile - Investigate a small, forested swamp filled with interesting plants and animals. The trail begins and ends on the bicycle path.
Appalachian Trail: This famous 2,000-mile national scenic trail is marked by white blazes and goes from Mt. Katahdin in central Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. The trail is popular with day hikers as well as backpackers.
You can begin your Appalachian Trail experience along Quarry Road by the furnace. A parking area near the furnace pavilion and a comfort station are available for trail users. Please visit the park office to register your car and intended destination and/or time of return.
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 positions
Paymasters Cabin: This historic house is available for rent year-round as a modern cabin. The cabin sleeps six people and is near the camp store. Guests should bring all essentials like sheets, linens and dishes. Modern cabin prices apply.
Explore cabins for more information.
Make a reservation.
Organized Group Tenting: Organized adult or youth groups may reserve the rustic area year-round. The area is divided into six separate sites with capacities varying from 35 to 50 people each, or the entire camp can be reserved. The sites are in a wooded area surrounding an open playfield.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Nordic skiers can enjoy the use of the railroad grade when snow conditions allow. Although no trails are specifically designated for cross-country skiing, numerous opportunities exist, especially during winters with heavy snowfalls, both within the park and on the surrounding state forest lands.
Snowmobiling: A trailhead parking area on nearby state forest land provides parking for vehicles and snowmobile trailers, and access to many miles of trails on state forest lands. Maps of the trails are available at the park office.
Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is permitted on Laurel Lake. Ice thickness is not monitored except in the designated skating area. For your safety, be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment. Ice sports are prohibited on Fuller Lake.
Ice Skating: At Laurel Lake, a small area by the boat launch is maintained for ice-skating. Ice sports are prohibited on Fuller Lake.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Pine Grove Furnace State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs from spring through fall. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding, and develop a sense of stewardship toward the natural and cultural resources.
Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools, youth organizations and homeschool associations. Group programs must be scheduled in advance by calling the park office.
Several special events including the Fall Furnace Fest and the Appalachian Trail Museum Festival are conducted each year.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Appalachian Trail Museum
The Appalachian Trail Museum is located in the Old Mill Building at 1120 Pine Grove Road (along PA 233) between Pine Grove Furnace Park office and the Pine Grove General Store. Museum exhibits and programs pay tribute to the pioneer trail builders and hikers including Earl Shaffer, Grandma Gatewood, Gene Espy and Ed Garvey, and their commitment to fitness and conservation. The Children’s Discovery Area provides fun, hands-on learning experiences. The Museum is near the midpoint of the 2,179 mile Appalachian Trail, a National Scenic Trail that goes through 14 states from Georgia to Maine. The Museum welcomes newcomers to the A.T. as well as veteran hikers and frequently offers an opportunity to meet current long distance hikers.
The Museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends in the spring and fall. The Museum is closed from Nov. 1 to March 31. Admission is free of charge although donations are welcomed. Parking for the Museum is adjacent to the Furnace Stack Picnic Pavilion. 717-486-8126. www.atmuseum.org
The Ironmaster's Mansion was officially reopened May 6, 2011 after undergoing a year of renovations. It serves as a hostel, providing lodging to the general public in a dormitory-style environment, an educational facility with meeting rooms and as a venue for wedding receptions, family reunions and special events. The mansion was built in 1829 and has a very impressive history of guests and owners. Some of the interesting folklore is the story of the secret passage in the stairwell closet was part of the Underground Railroad. Come see for yourself and decide. The mansion is open on Sunday's between Memorial Day and Labor Day at 3 p.m. for tours. It is open daily April to December at 5 p.m. to accept overnight guests. To book a wedding, meeting or special event, please e-mail: IronmastersPineGrove@gmail.com or call 717-486-4108. The Ironmaster's Mansion is being managed by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. www.CentralPaConservancy.org
Take a 360 degree tour. http://tours.360businesstechnology.com/public/vtour/display/35217?a=1
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.
The diverse habitats of Pine Grove Furnace State Park support a variety of wildlife through all seasons. The historic use of the area during the iron furnace period created a varied combination of open areas, wetlands, and vegetation that make the area unique to wildlife.
Spring and fall is the time of bird migrations. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is an area of forest with interspersed ponds and wetlands and is a rest stop for many migrating forest birds. Warblers, vireos and thrushes stop to rest and eat before flying on to their breeding or winter homes.
Laurel Lake and its shoreline wetlands are a beacon that lures waterfowl. Merganser, Canada goose, mallard, loon, teal and many other ducks can be seen swimming, diving and dabbling for vegetation and small fish. Wild turkey and woodcock call from open areas.
Winter is a good time to see woodpeckers and evidence of their presence. Pine Grove Furnace has at least six species of woodpeckers.
Summer is the time of lush green vegetation and growing young animals. In thickets and along roads, watch for spotted fawns and frantic bluebirds searching for food to feed their hungry chicks. Butterflies reach their peak numbers and can be seen floating from flower to flower in the fields and wetlands.
In the fall, the deciduous trees lose their chlorophyll and their leaves reveal beautiful reds, oranges and yellows. This is a time that many animals are preparing for the winter season ahead. There is a growing population of black bears in the area and visitors may see one putting on weight for the winter hibernation. Beavers may be seen working on lodges and dams in the upper channels of Laurel Lake at twilight.
Pine Grove Furnace
In 1764, partners George Stevenson, Robert Thornburgh and John Arthur built an iron furnace along Mountain Creek. They named it Pine Grove Iron Works. It manufactured ten plate stoves, fireplace backs, iron kettles and possibly munitions during the American Revolution.
In 1782, Michael Ege, a rising Cumberland County iron mogul, purchased the iron works. Over the next 32 years, Ege grew his business until he was the sole owner of Pine Grove, Cumberland, Holly and Carlisle iron works.
Michael’s oldest son, Peter Ege, inherited Pine Grove Iron Works. In 1829, Peter built for his wife, Jane Arthur Ege, a red brick, English Tudor mansion. Jane died at Pine Grove in 1841 and was laid to rest in the Pine Grove Cemetery next to her son George Washington Ege, who had died in 1831.
Peter expanded his iron works in 1830, building Laurel Forge, which reheated and hammered cast iron from Pine Grove Furnace to produce wrought iron, a bendable metal that could be formed into many shapes.
The financial panic of 1837 bankrupted Peter Ege’s Pine Grove Iron Works. At a sheriff sale the following year, Frederick Watts and his law partner Charles Bingham Penrose purchased Pine Grove to try their luck in the iron business. Watts went on to found Penn State University in 1855 and served in 1871 as Commissioner of Agriculture for President Grant. Penrose was a state senator and Solicitor of the Treasury for President Harrison.
In 1864, Jay Cooke and Company bought the iron works and formed South Mountain Iron Company, bringing in Jackson C. Fuller to be the furnace manager to run the daily operations, while the business affairs were taken care of in Philadelphia. The new company built South Mountain Railroad to bring raw materials to the furnace and move the iron products to market.
Jay Cooke is often called the "Financier of the Civil War." He raised about $1.2 billion through the sale of federal treasury notes. Taking only a small commission on the sale of each bond made Cooke the wealthiest man in America by the end of the war. He then bought the Northern Pacific Railroad, which failed in the poor economy and depression after the war. Cooke was bankrupt and moved into his son in-Law's home. The closing of the banking house of Jay Cooke and Company caused the financial panic of 1873.
The South Mountain Iron Works went up for sheriff sale, but no one bought it. In 1877, the railroad and iron works were sold separately. Through his friend Fuller, Cooke bought back the ironworks, forming the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company.
Future founding member of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, John Birkinbine, became the furnace’s engineer. Concerned over Pennsylvania’s dwindling forest reserves and wanting to show that charcoal iron furnaces could be fired with alternative fuels like coke and coal, Birkinbine renovated the furnace in the winter of 1878. Charcoal remained the primary fuel of the furnace, but the furnace no longer had to shutdown when charcoal supplies were exhausted. Birkinbine also increased the size of the furnace, which produced 6,000 net tons of cast iron in 1883, the peak year of production.
But, new technologies were quickly putting small iron producers out of business. Pine Grove Furnace went out of blast in 1895, ending 131 years of iron making on South Mountain.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
In 1913, the 17,000-acre Pine Grove Ironworks was sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be part of the new Forest Reserve system. Much of the land became Michaux State Forest, and part became Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Fuller Lake, an iron ore quarry, which had filled with groundwater when mining ceased, became a popular swimming area. Laurel Lake had supplied waterpower for Laurel Forge. Today it is popular for fishing and swimming.
In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established Camp S-51. The CCC boys built roads, trails and facilities until 1941.
For more information on the CCC, visit the Civilian Conservation Corps Online Archive.
Some of the historic buildings dating back to the charcoal iron community still stand and include the furnace, ironmaster’s mansion, clerk’s office, stable, grist mill (now the visitor center), the second iron master’s mansion (now the park office) and several residences. Remnants of raceways, charcoal hearths and related man-made features are still discernible.
In 1977, Pine Grove Iron Works was entered in the National Register of Historical Places.
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Join a Friends Group
The Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, a branch of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation and a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that has been created to keep history alive and promote the educational and recreational programs of the park and surrounding areas through special events and trail development while protecting the park’s natural resources. For more information or to get your 2011 Membership Application please contact or stop by the Park Office or visit their website at www.pinegrovefriends.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
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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.
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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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Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau www.visitcumberlandvalley.com
Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau www.gettysburg.com
Kings Gap Environmental Education Center: Kings Gap offers environmental education programs from the pre-school environmental awareness program to environmental problem solving programs. 717-486-5031
Michaux State Forest: This 85,000-acre forest surrounds the park and offers general recreation like hunting, fishing and hiking. 717-352-2211
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.
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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 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.
The park is easily reached from I-81. Visitors should take Exit 37 to PA 233 south then travel for eight miles.
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park information Window.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park