Nestled within the Allens Valley between the spectacular Tuscarora and Cove Mountains, Cowans Gap State Park is a popular weekend getaway and week long vacation destination for those who love the great outdoors.
Spread across 1,085 picturesque acres, the park is largely flanked by Buchanan State Forest, which makes it a wonderful destination to hike within.
Another big attraction of this PA state park is the stunning Cowans Gap Lake, which provides excellent opportunities for boating and fishing on its sparkling waters. While hunting, and winter activities like cross country skiing, ice skating and ice fishing are big drawcards too.
Centrally placed in between Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington, the park is an excellent destination for those who want to escape the fast pace of big city life.
Its campground is open from the middle of April to the middle of December. Offering plenty of RV, trailer and tent sites, as well as rustic cabins, it is perfect for those who want to really take their time to experience the park’s incredible natural beauty.
The park offers plenty of different ways to enjoy its fabulous landscape.
Here is just a small selection of some of the things you can do whilst you are there.
Boating at Cowans Gap State Park
The 42-acre Cowans Gap Lake provides plenty of opportunities for those who enjoy being on the water. With the likes of kayaking, canoeing, row boating and SUP being regularly practiced.
Boaters should be aware that only electric motors are permitted on the lake, and a valid licence from the Pennsylvania Fishing and Boat Commission is required before you can take to it.
If you didn’t bring a watercraft with you, some vessels are available hire in the warmer months of summer.
Fishing at Cowans Gap State Park
Fishing is a popular activity at the park with anglers coming from all parts of Pennsylvania and the surrounding states for the opportunity to drop a line here.
The lake provides a picturesque and tranquil spot for fishing and is home to the likes of bass, trout, panfish, catfish and perch.
Around the lake, you will find two ADA-accessible fishing piers, as well as two boat launches for you to use.
If you would prefer to fish somewhere a little more remote, the south branch of the Little Aughwick Creek is also a good spot to catch trout.
Please note, as with boating, a valid license from the Pennsylvania Fishing and Boat Commission is required before you can fish in the park.
Hiking at Cowans Gap State Park
Like most public recreational spaces in Pennsylvania, hiking is the best way to explore Cowans Gap State Park.
All up there are over 13 miles of trails to explore, which takes you to various scenic spots throughout the park.
These trails vary in length and degrees of difficulty, so whatever your level of fitness there will be an appropriate one for you to tackle.
One of the park’s most popular pathways is the Lakeside Trail, which is an easy loop of 1.5 miles that showcases wonderful views of the water.
For those who enjoy traversing a bit more of a challenging terrain, the Standing Still Hiking Trail should suit your needs.
Hunting at Cowans Gap State Park
During the designated season, over 600 acres of land is specifically set aside for hunting, trapping and dog training.
Some of the common game species you can take aim at include turkey, squirrel and deer. However, the hunting of groundhogs is strictly forbidden.
If you fancy a change of scene, nearby Buchanon State Forest also offers plenty of acreage in which to hunt.
Winter Sports at Cowans Gap State Park
During the winter, when the snow comes, the park’s unmaintained roads, and most of its hiking trails, transform into exceptional routes for cross-country skiing.
This provides you with a fantastic, alternative way of exploring the park’s landscape.
When the lake freezes over, you can also enjoy ice skating and fishing on it too. Just be sure to dress up very warmly, as the winters in this part of Pennsylvania can get very cold indeed.
Pets at Cowans Gap State Park
The park prides itself on being a pet friendly public recreation space. However, like most state parks in Pennsylvania it does impose some restrictions on those who plan on bringing their dogs with them.
For further clarification, you might want to contact the park’s main office.
Camping at Cowans Gap State Park
For those who want to stay at the park for a few nights, the onsite campground offers 162 RV-friendly campsites that are located on two different loops.
These range from primitive 20 foot sites to those which span 82 feet and come with electric hookups. There are also several tent-only sites located within both loops as well.
All sites come with a picnic table and fire ring, while amenities in the campground include restrooms with flush toilets and warm showers and a dump station that is centrally located between both campgrounds.
These sites can be reserved up to 11 months in advance. If left unreserved they are available on a first come, first served basis.
As well as these RV and tent sites, there are 10 rustic cabins available on the western side of the lake. These can sleep up to four guests and have modern kitchen appliances, an indoor fire pit and a water faucet outside. One of these cabins is ADA accessible.
Other accommodation options include walk-in tent sites and organized group tenting.
Cowans Gap State Park
6235 Aughwick Rd
Fort Loudon, PA 17224
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Cowans Gap State Park:
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