Kings Gap Environmental Center is well known for the four-mile road that winds through its 2,531 acres to the historic Italian villa-style stone mansion atop of South Mountain. Kings Gap focuses on natural and cultural interpretation and education. Lifelong learners will appreciate both self-guided interpretive trails and guided hikes.
Twenty miles of trails interconnect three main day use areas: Mansion, Pine Plantation and Pond. Begin your journey at the Mansion Day Use Area where center offices and an adjacent education center are located. While at the mansion, be sure to take in the view from the patio, wander through the mansion garden, or hike the Ridge Overlook Trail to the sweeping vista of the Cumberland Valley. Traveling back down the mountain, the pond Day Use Area offers trails that explore this habitat for songbirds, wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians, created by the presence of Kings Gap Hollow Run. Continuing down the road, the Pine Plantation Day Use Area is the site of another trail head, a half-century old conifer forest, and is also a haven for many resident bird species, including owls. Kings Gap is free and open year-round, from dawn to dusk. The center offices are open from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday–Friday.
Download Recreational Guides and Maps:
- Kings Gap Environmental Education Center Map (.pdf)
- Kings Gap Environmental Education Center Bird Map (.pdf)
- Kings Gap Environmental Education Center Garden Map (.pdf)
Hiking: Twenty miles of trails provide ample opportunities to explore chestnut oak forests, blueberry patches, and trickling streams, and to encounter wildlife such as the Baltimore Oriole, White-breasted Nuthatch, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Phoebe, Scarlet Tanager, Wild Turkey, white-tailed deer, and eastern box turtle. Trail heads are located at the three day use areas. Sturdy footwear is recommended due to the rock footing on most trails. Trails are well marked but taking a trail map on your hike is strongly recommended.
View more about each trail by clicking on its trail name below.
- Black Gum Trail: 1.1 mile linear trail (more difficult)
- Boundary Trail: 1.5 mile linear trail (most difficult)
- Buck Ridge Trail: 6 mile linear trail from Kings Gap to Pine Grove Furnace (most difficult)
- Cold Spring Overlook Trail: .04 miles (easiest)
- Forest Heritage Trail: 1.8 mile loop (more difficult)
- Kings Gap Hollow Trail: 2.8 mile linear trail (more difficult)
- Locust Point Trail: 1 mile loop (most difficult)
- Maple Hollow Trail: 1.3 mile loop (more difficult)
- Nature Trail: .2 mile loop (easiest)
- Pine Plantation Trail: .6 mile loop (easiest)
- Ridge Overlook: .8 mile linear trail (most difficult)
- Rock Scree Trail: 1.9 mile linear trail (more difficult)
- Scenic Vista Trail: 2.5 mile linear trail (more difficult)
- Watershed Trail: 1.9 mile loop (more difficult)
- Whispering Pines Trail: .3 mile loop (easiest, paved, ADA accessible)
- White Oaks Trail: .3 mile loop (easiest, paved, ADA accessible)
- Woodland Ecology Trail: .6 mile loop (easiest)
Trail Difficulty Ratings: based on technical challenge, not physical exertion.
- Easiest (Interpretive) – Elevation gain or loss is minimal, less than 5% slope, maximum 20% up to 100 feet
- More Difficult – Elevation gain or loss is moderate, less than 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
Hunting: Open to hunting, trapping and training of dogs during established seasons.
Orienteering: A permanent orienteering course is located at Kings Gap. Orienteering is a sport that involves using a map and compass to negotiate a designated course. Additional information on orienteering and copies of the course map are available at the center office. The center offers programs on orienteering for beginners in the fall and spring.
Mansion Garden: The peaceful setting and the vibrancy of its colorful blooms create a garden to be experienced and enjoyed in all seasons. Surrounded by the original garden's stone wall, the current garden was started in 1992 as a collaborative educational project of the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks and Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Cumberland County. This outdoor classroom inspires and teaches about plants while demonstrating sustainable gardening practices.
Butterfly Garden: In 2015, the Friends of Kings Gap and Penn State Master Gardeners installed a memorial butterfly garden behind the Education Building dedicated to Shirley Sams, the first president of the Friends of Kings Gap and volunteer in the garden. Visitors are encouraged to take time to view the garden and experience the solitude while you commune with nature. Guests will also get ideas on native plants to use in in their own gardens to attract butterflies.
Groups: Self-guided and guided programs range from historical tours of the mansion to interpretive walks through the gardens, grounds and trails. Enjoy a scenic view and catered lunch at the historic Cameron Masland Mansion.
The Environmental Center is also available for meetings.
2017 Best in the Valley Winner
“It is a beautiful place to take a hike or walk and appreciate the beauty of nature that we have at our disposal. It is a very clean area and great for any kind of ambulatory exercise.” – Kathy A., Carlisle, PA
- Directions: Directions: From Interstate 81, take Newville exit 37. Travel south on Route 233 for approximately 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Pine Road and continue for 2.5 miles. The entrance to Kings Gap is on the right; watch for the sign.
- Gift Shop:
- Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
- Months Open: Open year-round
- Motorcoach Parking:
- Parking: Free
- Credit Cards Accepted:
- Handicapped Accessible:
- Pets Allowed:
- Tours Available:
- All Ages:
- Bird Watching:
- Environmental Education:
- Hiking Trails:
- In Kings Gap State Park:
- Interpretative Signage:
- Picnic Area/Pavilions:
- Scenic Overlook:
- Miles of Trails: 16
- Number of Trails: 13
- Any Length Trail:
- Trail Length > 5 Miles:
- Trail Length < 5 Miles:
- Group Reservations Required:
- Maximum # of People for Tour: 60
- Motorcoach Parking:
- Price Range: varies
Type of Experience
- Private Dining Room:
- Tours Available:
- Largest Room 840
- Total Sq. Ft. 1835
- Reception Capacity 100
- Theatre Capacity 48
- Any Licensed Caterer
- Guest Rooms Available
- Lobby/Reception Area
- Picnic Area
- Banquet Capacity 48
- Number of Rooms 2
- Classroom Capacity 30
- Sleeping Rooms 15