The south-central Pennsylvania region of Cumberland Valley is a getaway destination with a unique mixture of mountain scenery and captivating cultural significance. A serene and stunning region packed with rustic gems waiting to be discovered, Cumberland Valley is a can’t-miss choice for overnight and weekend visits.
Here are some of the inspiring natural and historical finds that this distinctive destination has hidden in its hills. If you’re looking for dazzling discoveries in the great outdoors, you’ve #FounditinCV.
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a high point for natural outdoor beauty and deeply fascinating American history. 46 miles of the Appalachian Trail meander through Cumberland Valley, including a 13-mile section that is the longest, lowest, and flattest section on the entire trail and one of the most accessible portions to park and take a short day trip.
Pine Grove Iron Furnace
An awe-inspiring monument, the Pine Grove Iron Furnace at Pine Grove Furnace State Park dates way back to before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Now nearly 250 years old, the furnace is steeped with fascinating folklore and history. The park is home to the midpoint of the A.T. and features nearly 700 acres of unspoiled nature and hiking trails, including panoramic views from Pole Steeple.
Appalachian Trail Museum
There’s only one museum in the United States devoted exclusively to hiking, and, of course, you’ll find it on the nation’s longest hiking trail. The Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park is an enthralling deep dive into the history of the trail, its founders, and more than 100 years of photos taken along the iconic hiking path. The basement of the museum, inside a 200-year-old grist mill, includes an educational “children’s version” of the Appalachian Trail, perfect for future hikers, including a "Night on the Trail" designed to give children a sense of what it's like to spend a night on the A.T.
The Mansion at Kings Gap
One of the most stunning sights in the Appalachian Mountains is the unexpected appearance of a regal, 100-year-old mansion sitting among the forest peaks. Known colloquially as “the mansion,” this landmark is now called the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center and offers one of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the whole Cumberland Valley. The mansion is surrounded by more than 2,500 acres of picturesque mountain terrain and more than 25 miles of hiking trails that are open year-round with free admission. The Mansion is often open on weekends for self-guided tours, and you can enjoy weekend stays from late April through mid-November.
Everyone’s a bird watcher at Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch. The Hawk Watch is a 125-acre rock outcrop that sees as many as 20,000 raptors each year. (TIP: Fall is the best time to experience the hawk migration.) The magnificent location sits atop Blue Mountain and is one of seven hawk watch sites located along Kittatinny Ridge, a 185-mile stretch of forest from the Delaware River to the Mason-Dixon Line that was recently named by the Audubon Society as one of six global Important Bird Areas in the state. At the top, you get the same “as the hawk flies” view enjoyed by the red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and more than a dozen other species of birds who also fly through the area. Discover the Waggoner's Gap experience.
Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum, Conrail Museum
What was once the path of the old legacy Cumberland Valley railroad corridor has been reborn as the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, a 13-mile trail that’s ideal for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Combine history and hiking with a visit to the Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum and the Conrail Museum, both located at the Shippensburg Station trailhead. The CVRR museum is housed in a restored 1956 Penn Central 50-foot boxcar, and the Conrail Museum is a unique facility located in a restored Conrail 86-foot boxcar. Both are signature finds that explore Cumberland Valley's rich railroad history.
Carlisle’s LeTort Nature Trail and Fly Fishing Museum
LeTort Spring Run in Carlisle is nationally known as one of the finest limestone trout streams in the country. Cumberland Valley’s pedigree as a premier fly-fishing destination is enhanced by the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum in Carlisle, a one-of-a-kind museum packed with fly-fishing memorabilia, photos, and history.
Outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts will find an idyllic paradise at Opossum Lake, a 59-acre lake that sits on a larger 275-acre public recreation area. Whether you love boating, hiking, fishing, or birdwatching, Opossum Lake makes for an unforgettable day or weekend. Its four-mile trail offers a peaceful, easy-to-moderate hike through woods and fields with access points to the lake.
Army Heritage Trail at USAHEC
The history of the U.S. Army, from the French and Indian War to the current day, is powerfully captured along the Army Heritage Trail at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. A fun and fascinating walk through time is accentuated by unforgettable sights like a Huey helicopter and an M18 Hellcat tank destroyer on a one-mile outdoor trail loop.
Boiling Springs lives up to its name at Children's Lake, a crystal-clear, man-made lake where the water really does bubble. The lake is perfectly suitable for boating, fishing, and feeding the ducks or swans and really captures the special magic of Cumberland Valley with the Appalachian Trail on one side and charming downtown Boiling Springs on the other. (NOTE: Renovations at the lake began in 2022 and should be completed by mid-July to late August 2023.)
The uncommon wonders make for wonderful outdoor experiences in Cumberland Valley, so find a place to stay and make an overnight or weekend trip of it. Steeped in history that goes back to before the birth of this nation, the majestic mountains of the Cumberland Valley always have more spectacular secrets to reveal.
Plan your #WeekendEasy adventure at visitcumberlandvalley.com.