Kings Gap Environmental Education Center

Kings Gap Environmental Educational 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.

Day Use Areas:

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.

Pine Plantation Trail in Kings GapMansion:
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, 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.

Pine Plantation:
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:

Kings GapHiking:
Twenty 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. 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.

Trails include:

  • 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

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 Owl 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. View more bike routes.

Open to hunting, trapping, and training of dogs during established seasons. View hunting areas.

A permanent orienteering course is located at Kings Gap. Orienteering is a sport that involves using a map and

Mansion Garden:
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.

Butterfly Garden:
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 & Meetings:
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. Submit your RFP.