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Hiking at Cowans Gap State Park

13 miles of trails

Trails vary in difficulty from flat to very steep. Hikers should be in good physical condition, wear sturdy boots, and use caution due to slippery/wet conditions and steep trail sections.

Cameron Trail

0.5 mile, more difficult hiking

This very steep, boundary trail is on the south end of the park and ends atop Cove Mountain.

The CCC built this trail for firefighting access to Buchanan State Forest.

Doe Trail

0.2 mile, easiest hiking

This short spur trail connects Parking Lot #7 with Logging Road Trail above Camping Area B.

Geyer Trail

0.5 mile, most difficult hiking

This rather steep boundary trail passes through areas of mountain laurel. The trail starts along Aughwick Road then climbs Tuscarora Mountain to Tuscarora Trail.

North and South Logging Road Trail

1.7 miles, easiest hiking

This old logging road can be walked from one end of the park to the other and is a good trail to use to make loop hikes with other trails on the side of Cove Mountain.

Horseshoe Trail

0.5 mile, most difficult hiking

This very steep and very rugged trail passes over loose stones on steep slopes.

The trail starts at the intersection of Tuscarora Trail below the park dam and climbs to the top of Cove Mountain ending on Knobsville Road Trail.

Experienced hikers only! Not suitable for equestrian or bicycle use.

Knobsville Road Trail

1.3 miles, more difficult hiking

This old road climbs to the top of Cove Mountain, past the park’s landslide interpretive exhibit, a CCC-era incinerator, and a park overlook. Cresting Cove Mountain, the trail ends at the park boundary. Hikers can continue on Standing Stone Trail to Horseshoe Trail or join state forest trails by taking either the Knobsville road trace or Knobsville Trail to connect to Tailgate Road and hike to Route 522. This will add an additional two miles or more.

Lakeside Trail

1.5 miles, easiest hiking

This very pleasant, nearly level, scenic trail encircles Cowans Gap Lake. This is the most popular trail in the park.

One Mile Trail

0.4 mile, easiest hiking

This mountain laurel shaded trail begins along Aughwick Road just above the park office, then winds along the bottom of Tuscarora Mountain to join the Three Mile Trail. Hikers can then follow Three Mile Trail to the left returning to Aughwick Road across from Parking Lot #3, then follow Aughwick Road back to the beginning of One Mile Trail, having walked about one mile.

Plessinger Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult hiking

This rocky, streamside trail meanders alongside Aughwick Creek and is a great access trail for anglers and a pleasant walk for wildlife watchers.

Three Mile Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult hiking

This trail begins along Aughwick Road across from the upper end of Camping Area A.

The trail wanders through mountain laurel on the side of Tuscarora Mountain and is a nice trail to walk in June when the mountain laurel is in bloom.

Be aware, there is a short, 200-foot section of very steep trail.

Standing Stone Hiking Trail

76 miles (2.4 miles in the park), orange blazes, most difficult hiking

Starting at the Cowans Gap Lake spillway, this trail goes north to join Greenwood Furnace State Park.

Part of the Great Eastern Trail System, Standing Stone Trail offers a challenging experience for seasoned hikers. Standing Stone Trail connects to:

  • Mid State Trail
  • Tuscarora Trail
  • Appalachian Trail

Overnight hikers must fill out an overnight parking permit which is available at the park office. They are encouraged to park at the park office. 

Tuscarora Trail

110 miles (2 miles in park), blue blazes, more difficult hiking

The more popular section to walk is a 1.5-mile section beginning across Aughwick Road from Parking Lot #3, climbing along Tuscarora Mountain to the junction with Geyer Trail. Once at the junction with Geyer Trail, hikers have several options to continue their hike.

They can return to the day use area by retracing their steps or by following Geyer Trail to Cameron Trail then to Plessinger Trail. They can also take Tuscarora Trail another 2.4 miles south to the top of Big Mountain and a spectacular overlook of the Path Valley and Franklin County.

From the Big Mountain Overlook, hikers will have a 3.9-mile return hike back to the park.

The Cowans Gap section of the trail is renowned for its unusual rock outcroppings and rock fields.