Kings Gap Environmental Education Center
Kings Gap Environmental Education 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. 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.
COVID-19 Information as of 4/30/21
All state parklands including trails, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, roads, parking areas, and restrooms are accessible statewide for recreation. In keeping with current guidelines to respond to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, DCNR has implemented the following measures:
- Outdoor, in-person programs will resume with a limit of 40 participants per program
- Volunteer workdays will resume with a limit of 40 participants per group
- Virtual and self-guided programs will continue to be offered
- Visitor center exhibit halls, interpretive areas, and theaters will open with a 75 percent capacity visitation allowance
- Large, DCNR-sponsored events remain canceled until further notice
Masks are required to be worn:
- In park offices and visitor centers
- In any other indoor public space
- During outdoor educational programs
Masks are recommended throughout the park when you are unable to adequately social distance.
If you have questions, please call the park office before your visit.
Find additional State Park updates from DCNR.
Twenty-five miles of trails interconnect three main day-use areas: Mansion, Pine Plantation, and Kings Gap Hallow. Begin your journey at the Mansion Day Use Area where center offices and an adjacent education center are located.
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.
Kings Gap Hollow
Traveling back down the mountain, this 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, this area is the site of another trailhead, a half-century-old conifer forest, and is also a haven for many resident bird species, including owls.
Things to Do at Kings Gap
Twenty-five miles of trails provide ample opportunities to explore chestnut oak forests, blueberry patches, and trickling streams, and to encounter wildlife such as a variety of birds, white-tailed deer, and eastern box turtle. Trailheads 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.
- Black Gum Trail: 1.1-mile linear trail (more difficult) View Details
- Boundary Trail: 1.5-mile linear trail (most difficult) View Details
- Buck Ridge Trail: 6-mile linear trail from Kings Gap to Pine Grove Furnace (most difficult) View Details
- Cold Spring Overlook Trail: .04 miles (easiest) View Details
- Forest Heritage Trail: 1.8-mile loop (more difficult) View Details
- Kings Gap Hollow Trail: 2.8-mile linear trail (more difficult) View Details
- Locust Point Trail: 1-mile loop (most difficult) View Details
- Maple Hollow Trail: 1.3-mile loop (more difficult) View Details
- Nature Trail: .2 mile loop (easiest)View Details
- Pine Plantation Trail: .6 mile loop (easiest) View Details
- Ridge Overlook: .8 mile linear trail (most difficult) View Details
- Rock Scree Trail: 1.9-mile linear trail (more difficult) View Details
- Scenic Vista Trail: 2.5-mile linear trail (more difficult) View Details
- Watershed Trail: 1.9-mile loop (more difficult) View Details
- Whispering Pines Trail: .3 mile loop (easiest, paved, ADA accessible) View Details
- White Oaks Trail: .3 mile loop (easiest, paved, ADA accessible) View Details
- Woodland Ecology Trail: .6 mile loop (easiest) View Details
- Irish Gap Hollow Trail: .4 mile linear trail (easiest) View Details
- Two Hollows Trail: .9 mile linear trail (more difficult) View Details
The Irish Gap Hollow Trail and Two Hollows Trail can be accessed from the Boundary Trail or from the Irish Gap Access Area.
The park also recently added 68 acres that will provide more accessible hiking opportunities and conserve amphibian habitat threatened by the impacts of climate change. The property contains several vernal pools and a section of Kings Gap Hollow Run, which has a native brook trout population. Vernal pools are temporary springtime wetlands that host and nourish globally rare salamanders, frogs,s and other woodland species before drying up by summertime. The property borders several thousand feet of Kings Gap Road at the entrance to the center. The forest habitat of the property is more diverse and accessible than the majority of the center's land. With the newly added land, Kings Gap now encompasses almost 2,600 acres.
Trail Difficulty Ratings: based on the 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
Migrant sparrows and occasional wintering Long-eared owls can be spotted at the Pine Plantation area. Pine Warbler and Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Wood Thrush and can be seen further up the mountain. View bird watching hotspots.
Bike the 4-mile windy road leading up to the mansion. Be sure to stop along the way at scenic vistas of the Valley below. NOTE: Bikes are prohibited on the trails. View more bike routes.
Open to hunting, trapping, and training of dogs during established seasons. View hunting areas.
Friendly Reminder: During hunting season, please wear bright orange viewable from all directions when hiking. Don't forget orange for your pets. Hunting is allowed in certain areas of the park during open seasons. The entire park, including the typical no-hunting areas (except for safety zones), is open for deer season (November 28 to December 12, 2020). There are three Sundays in 2020 when hunting is permitted: November 15, 21, 29.
A permanent orienteering course is located at Kings Gap. Orienteering is a sport that involves using a map and compass to find your way on a course.
If there is enough snow cover, snowshoeing is permitted on all trails although the more level trails in the Pine Plantation Use Area are recommended.
Kings Gap offers a snowshoe loaner program on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the office at 717-486-3799 for more information. Snowshoes are sized by weight, not shoe size, so please have an idea of the approximate weights of those in your party when you call. When in doubt, go a size up!
Snowshoes are available for contactless pickup Monday through Friday when the Center office is open. Please call ahead!
The peaceful setting and the vibrancy of its colorful blooms create a garden to be experienced and enjoyed in all seasons. This outdoor classroom inspires and teaches about plants while demonstrating sustainable gardening practices. Surrounded by a low stone wall, the garden is divided into three sections: herb garden, wildlife habitat garden featuring native plants, and a compost demonstration garden.
Take time to view the garden and experience solitude while you commune with nature. Guests will also get ideas on native plants to use in their own gardens to attract butterflies.
Guided Hikes and Programs
Self-guided and guided programs range from historical tours of the mansion to interpretive walks through the gardens, grounds, and trails. Check our online events calendar for a list of guided hikes and other programs.
Stay the Night
COVID-19 Update: The Mansion is open for weekend overnight stays from 4/21/21 to 11/19/21.
Weekend Stays at the Mansion -- Spend the weekend at the historic Cameron Masland Mansion from April through mid-November. There is a two-night minimum stay (Friday & Saturday nights). Continental breakfast is included in the cost. All suites and rooms come with a queen bed (plus a queen sofa bed for the suites), mini-fridge, Keurig coffee maker and coffee/tea, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, linens, and toiletries. There are four suites with a maximum capacity of 4 people each and three rooms with a maximum capacity of two people each. Each two-person room features a private full bathroom with a clawfoot tub. Each four-person room features a private full bathroom with a clawfoot tub or shower. Check-in time is between 3 pm and 7 pm on Friday and check-out time is 11 am on Sunday. To book a room, call 888-PA-PARKS or visit https://pennsylvaniastateparks.reserveamerica.com/.
Groups -- The Mansion is also available to rent for meetings, retreats, training sessions, weddings, receptions, and other special events.