What to do in Gifford Pinchot State Park

Gifford Pinchot State Park is a 2,338-acre full service park located in northern York County along PA Route 177 between the towns of Rossville and Lewisberry. The park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides with the 340-acre Pinchot Lake serving as a prime attraction. The diverse habitats of Gifford Pinchot State Park support a variety of wildlife through all seasons. The basis for the many habitats is diabase rock that underlies most of the park and was created when molten rock intruded the sandstone and melted it into a new kind of rock. Many of the diabase rocks have unique cracks that formed as the rocks slowly cooled.

Gifford Pinchot State Park offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities. There are cabins, campsites and group campsites. The lake opens up opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming. This beautiful park even offers an area for nature study. Winter sports include: ice skating, ice boating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Spring and fall area popular times of the year for bird-watchers. This area is a flyway for migrating neotropical birds.

There is a horse trail, mountain bike trail and other footpaths. The Mason-Dixon Trail, 200 miles of difficult trail travels through the park. This trail runs through Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The trail has blue blazes and follows portions of Lakeside, Alpine, Pinchot, Ridge and Beaver Creek trails as it traverses the length of Gifford Pinchot State Park. The trail enters the park along Conley Road in the east and Squire Gratz and Thundergust Mill roads in the Northwest. Through-hikers may only camp at the park campground.

The park offers environmental education and interpretive programs through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs.

Approximately 1,780 acres of Gifford Pinchot State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs from fall archery season through the end of the traditional winter seasons. Common game species are deer, rabbit, squirrel and waterfowl.

The Harrisburg State Capitol, Hershey, Gettysburg National Historical Park and Lancaster County's Amish Country are located nearby.

Gifford Pinchot State Park is a 2,338-acre full service park located in northern York County along PA Route 177 between the towns of Rossville and Lewisberry. The park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides with the 340-acre Pinchot Lake serving as a prime attraction. The diverse habitats of Gifford Pinchot State Park support a variety of wildlife through all seasons. The basis for the many habitats is diabase rock that underlies most of the park and was created when molten rock intruded the sandstone and melted it into a new kind of rock. Many of the diabase rocks have unique cracks that formed as the rocks slowly cooled.

The park is named for Gifford Pinchot, born in 1846 to a wealthy family. A childhood interest in nature led to a career protecting forests and Gifford Pinchot become one of the founders of the conservation movement. After graduating from Yale University, Pinchot went to France and became the first American trained in forestry. A good friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot was named Chief Forester of the U. S. Division of Forestry and served from 1898 to 1910. With the guidance of Roosevelt and Pinchot, over 200 million acres of national forest came under scientific land management. Policies developed by Pinchot still help guide most national and state forests.

Recreation
Gifford Pinchot State Park offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities. There are cabins, campsites and group campsites. The lake opens up opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming. This beautiful park even offers an area for nature study. Winter sports include: ice skating, ice boating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Spring and fall area popular times of the year for bird-watchers. This area is a flyway for migrating neotropical birds.

There is a horse trail, mountain bike trail and other footpaths. The Mason-Dixon Trail, 200 miles of difficult trail travels through the park. This trail runs through Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The trail has blue blazes and follows portions of Lakeside, Alpine, Pinchot, Ridge and Beaver Creek trails as it traverses the length of Gifford Pinchot State Park. The trail enters the park along Conley Road in the east and Squire Gratz and Thundergust Mill roads in the Northwest. Through-hikers may only camp at the park campground.

The park offers 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 early spring through late fall. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office.

Approximately 1,780 acres of Gifford Pinchot State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs from fall archery season through the end of the traditional winter seasons. Common game species are deer, rabbit, squirrel and waterfowl.

Because of the adjacent residential development and the many non-hunting visitors, special regulations apply to all hunting in the park. Hunting weapons are restricted to bows and arrows until the general small game season in late fall when shotgun and muzzleloader use are also permitted. Rifles and handguns can not be used in the park at any time. Hunting is prohibited during spring and summer and dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day to March 31 in designated hunting areas. Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply.

To help protect the safety of hunters, non-hunting visitors and nearby residents, signs designating hunting areas, no hunting areas and safety zones are posted throughout the park. Hunters should be especially alert for other park visitors who may not be familiar with hunting and for safety zones near park buildings and private residences in and around the park. The Bureau of State Parks reserves the right to participate in or conduct special hunts at other times if necessary to adequately control specific wildlife populations or to conserve park resources. Please contact the park office if you have any questions or need more specific information.

Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park 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 Harrisburg State Capitol, Hershey, Gettysburg National Historical Park and Lancaster County's Amish Country are located nearby.

Location
The park is near the metropolitan areas of York and Harrisburg. It may be reached from Harrisburg via the Lewisberry Exit 15 off Interstate 83 South and PA Route 177 South. OR by U.S. Route 15 South to Dillsburg, then to PA Route 74 South. OR from York, take PA Route 74 North or Interstate 83 North. From I-83 take Exit 13, PA Route 382 West to PA Route 177 South.

Climate
Pennsylvania generally has a moist climate with cold winters and warm summers. The Gifford Pinchot 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 above 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 Celsius).

Address
2200 Rosstown Road
Lewisberry, PA 17339

Phone: 717-432-5011

Email: gpinchot.sp@a1.dcnr.state.pa.us
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park Travel Q&A

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