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Pennsylvania is well known for its beautiful state parks and forests, and the Cumberland Valley is no exception.

Information about all 177 state parks, as well as downloadable or printable maps, is available online at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks.

To reserve cabins, group or family camp sites and pavilions at all state parks, call 1-888-727-2757 or visit pennsylvaniastateparks.reserveamerica.com.

Here is a list of nearby state parks:

Buchanan's Birthplace

• Phone: 485-3948

Located along Pa. 16 in Cove Gap west of Mercersburg lies the site of the birthplace our 15th president, James Buchanan. This day-use park has two picnic pavilions, open on a first-come, first-served basis. Buck Run, which meanders through the park, is known for its native brook trout population. The log cabin that was the Buchanan family's home has been relocated to the campus of Mercersburg Academy. The park is maintained by Cowans Gap State Park staff.

Caledonia

101 Pine Grove Road, Fayetteville

• Phone: 352-2161

Established in 1903, it is the state's second-oldest park. The East Branch Conococheague and Rocky Mountain creeks and Carbaugh Run flow through the park and the surrounding Michaux State Forest, offering many opportunities for anglers.

The park features a large, ADA accessible swimming pool with a water slide and a small snack bar.

A public meeting room and rest rooms are available in the park office/visitors' center.

Cowans Gap

6235 Aughwick Road, Fort Loudon

• Phone: 485-3948

Situated on Tuscarora Mountain, the park includes a 42-acre lake for swimming, boating and fishing. A large campground, rustic cabins and hiking trails are prime attractions. Pavilions may be reserved. The 500-foot sand beach is open from late May to mid-September. In winter, the park is open for ice skating and cross-country skiing.

Colonel Denning

1599 Doubling Gap Road, Newville

• Phone: 776-5272

The 3.5-acre Doubling Gap Lake offers trout as a catch. Non-powered boats may operate in season and a sand beach is open from late May to mid-September. The park has access to about 18 miles of hiking trails in Tuscarora State Forest, about two miles within its borders. Ice skating, when posted as safe, and cross-country skiing are winter activities.

Fowler's Hollow

• Phone: 776-5272

Located along Pa. 274, this is satellite park of Colonel Denning, also surrounded by Tuscarora State Forest. There are 18 campsites (12 with electric hook-ups) and rest rooms; advance reservations may be made in season, and off-season camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. A trout stream offers fine fly fishing. In winter, the park is open to snowmobiles and cross-country skiing.

Kings Gap

Environmental Education Center at 500 Kings Gap Road, Carlisle

• Phone: 486-5031

This South Mountain park offers more than 18 miles of hiking trails, an orienteering course, picnicking, hunting and other recreational and educational opportunities. Sweeping views of the Cumberland Valley from the hilltop Cameron-Masland mansion is impressive at any time of year. The mansion has facilities for meals and overnight lodging and may be reserved for public functions.

Mont Alto

• Phone: 352-2161

Located along Pa. 233 east of Mont Alto, Pennsylvania's first state park sits seven miles south of Caledonia in the heart of Michaux State Forest. A large rentable pavilion, once a carousel, is a remnant of the grand mountain resort located here a century ago. Primarily open to picnickers, the park also allows fishing along the West Branch of Antietam Creek.

Pine Grove Furnace

1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners

• Phone: 486-7174

A restored iron-making furnace is part of a self-guided historical tour in this park that boasts two lakes with beaches. Self-powered or electric motor boats are permitted on Laurel Lake. Pedal boats, rowboats, electric motorboats and canoes are available for rent seasonally. The former Ironmaster's Mansion, operated by Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, is open overnight for Appalachian Trail hikers (the 2,000-plus mile AT runs through the park) and for public events. On site, the Appalachian Trail Museum is dedicated to the hiking culture and to the multitudes who have hiked the AT. Winter activities include cross-country skiing and skating on Laurel Lake, and snowmobiling in the surrounding Michaux State Forest.

Big Spring Picnic Area

• Phone: 536-3191

Located along Pa. 274, this picnic area was once designated a state park but is now administered by Tuscarora State Forest. Five large pavilions may be reserved, fee-free, up to 90 days in advance. The 10-mile Iron Horse Trail follows two old rail routes, and the Tunnel Trail is a short path leading to an unfinished stone tunnel on a section of narrow-gauge railway that was abandoned before it was completed.

Also, read about the three state parks in York County: Sam Lewis State Park, Codorus State Park, and Gifford Pinchot State Park.

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