What to do in Cowans Gap State Park

Cowans Gap State Park is a 1,085-acre park located in a beautiful valley of the scenic Tuscarora Mountains of Fulton County. The state forest land surrounding the park offers visitors with an abundance of natural beauty during all seasons of the year. Cowan Gap is a wonderful relaxing park to visit. It offers lake swimming during the summer months, boat launches, trout fishing, shady picnic groves, 10 miles of hiking trails, a campground and 10 rustic cabins. There is also a group tent area for youth and organized groups. The park is used during the winter months for ice fishing, ice skating and cross-country skiing.

Cowans Gap State Park also offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources. Curriculum based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. Teacher workshops are available. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Programs are offered April to November.

Approximately 630 acres of Cowans Gap State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey and squirrel.

Cowans Gap State Park is a 1,085-acre park located in a beautiful valley of the scenic Tuscarora Mountains of Fulton County. The state forest land surrounding the park offers visitors with an abundance of natural beauty during all seasons of the year.

Cowans Gap was named after Major Samuel Cowans. Major Cowans was a British officer during the Revolutionary War. He fell in love with the daughter of a Boston merchant, but being a British officer he was rejected by his love's father. After the war, he returned to Boston and the two eloped to Chambersburg. After a few years, they decided to move to the bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Their wagon broke down en route and they traded their wagon to an American Indian chief for the tract of land that later became known as Cowans Gap.

The first park facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1937. The CCC built the lake, picnic shelters, cabins and roads.

Recreation
Cowan Gap is a wonderful relaxing park to visit. It offers lake swimming during the summer months, boat launches, trout fishing, shady picnic groves, campground and 10 rustic cabins. There is also a group tent area for youth and organized groups. The park is used during the winter months for ice fishing, ice skating and cross-country skiing.

There are 10 miles of hiking trails in the park and many more trails in the adjacent state forest land. Due to the terrain, some of the trails are not for beginners especially sections of Cameron, Horseshoe and Three Mile Trails. The 105 mile Tuscarora Trail travels through Cowans Gap. It runs parallel to the Appalachian Trail and junctions with it and the Darling Trail near Deans Gap, north of Carlisle. The Tuscarora Trail is marked with rectangular blue blaze marks painted on trees. Horseshoe Trail is found on the north boundary of the park, while Geyer and Cameron Trails are found on the south boundary of the park. Each may be accessed off Tuscarora Trail. Forbes Road Trail is not a state park hiking trail but a section travels through the park on Stumpy Lane and Allen Valley Roads.

Cowans Gap State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources. Curriculum based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. Teacher workshops are available. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office. Programs are offered April to November.

Approximately 630 acres of Cowans Gap State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey and squirrel. Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day to March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply.

Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. The park is used by other visitors during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment 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 camp.

The park land borders state forest land which is open to hunting, trapping and dog training.

Location
The park is located between Chambersburg and McConnellsburg. To reach the park from the west take Exit 13, Fort Littleton, of the PA Turnpike, then US Route 522 North to Burnt Cabins and follow signs to the park. From the east, take Exit 14, Willow Hill, of the PA Turnpike, then PA Route 75 South to Richmond Furnace and follow signs. From US Route 30 take Route 75 North at Fort Loudon to Richmond Furnace and follow signs.

Climate
Pennsylvania generally has a moist climate with cold winters and warm summers. The Cowans Gap State Park area has cold winter months with temperatures averaging above 28 degrees Fahrenheit (above -2 degrees Celsius). The area's average summer temperatures range around 72 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 23 Celsius).

Address
HC 17266
Fort Loudon, PA 17224-9801

Phone: 717-485-3948

Email: cowansgapsp@state.pa.us
  • Cowans Gap State Park Travel Q&A

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