Cowans Gap State Park is a fantastic 1,085 acre park located in Fulton County (with a small portion extending into neighboring Franklin County as well).
The park is situated in Allens Valley, between Cove Mountain to the west and Tuscarora Mountain to the east.
Both Cove Mountain and Tuscarora Mountain are part of the Buchanan State Forest, home to many incredible scenic overlooks.
At the heart of this “park in the valley” lies 42-acre Cowans Gap Lake, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid 1930’s.
So with a 1,085 acre State Park, a 42 acre lake, and thousands of additional acres of State Forest surrounding it all, there are TONS of opportunities for outdoor adventures at Cowans Gap!
What I’m going to share with you are 7 of the best things to do at Cowans Gap State Park, in no particular order.
7 of the Best Things to Do at Cowans Gap State Park
1. Hiking at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap State Park is home to many miles of trails.
The 1.5 mile Lakeside Trail does an easy, relatively flat loop around Cowans Gap Lake.
Even in the “off-season”, the Lakeside Trail is a beautiful hike.
The Knobsville Road Trail is a steeper but still pleasant trail that follows an old Civilian Conservation Corp road, eventually passing Cowans Gap Overlook (more on that in a bit).
You can download the official Cowans Gap State Park trail map for a complete picture of your hiking options.
2. Fishing at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap Lake is home to trout, bass, perch, catfish, and panfish.
The normal PA Fish and Boat Commission regulations apply, and you can download a free Cowans Gap Lake water depth map from the DCNR website.
3. Boating at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap lake is an excellent spot for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding.
The standard PA Fish and Boat Commission rules for personal watercraft apply here, and in the summer months you can rent a boat at Cowans Gap as well.
4. Swimming at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap State Park is home to a 500 foot-long sand beach.
This is a swim at your own risk (no lifeguards) beach open from May-September, with restrooms and a concessions stand nearby.
5. Picnicking at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap State Park offers a huge array of picnicking options, from simple tables and charcoal grills to 4 large lakeside pavilions with fireplaces.
6. Scenic Overlooks at Cowans Gap State Park
Cowans Gap State Park is home to a pair of exceptional scenic overlooks just a few hundred yards apart.
Cowans Gap Overlook along the Knobsville Road Trail offers an eastern view out over Cowans Gap Lake.
While Knobsville Vista along the Standing Stone Trail offers a western view in the direction of Knobsville roughly 1.5 miles away.
7. Trail Riding at Cowans Gap State Park
Certain trails at Cowans Gap State Park are open to equestrians; the Knobsville Road Trail in particular is popular with the horse riding public.
There is a designated parking area (Lot #7) on the western side of the lake for horse trailers.
If you’ve ever hiked to Cowans Gap Overlook, you’ll agree that riding a horse up to it seems like a much better option!
So there you have it – 7 of the best things to do at Cowans Gap State Park!
Of course there are plenty of additional options – camping, birdwatching, hunting, nature photography, etc.
No matter what your tastes in outdoor recreation, you’re bound to find something to love about Cowans Gap State Park in Fulton County!
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Buchanan State Forest, which surrounds Cowans Gap State Park, is home a number of magnificent scenic overlooks.
In my write-up “The 7 Best Scenic Overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest” you’ll find maps, directions, and photos of all 7 vistas.
Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is home to a large pyramid that marks the birthplace of the James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States.
For a completely different experience, check out the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike hiking/biking trail, with one of the trail heads located near Sideling Hill in Fulton County.
The abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County was used to house German prisoners of war after the Nazis surrendered in May, 1945.
“The 12 Best Scenic Overlooks in Huntingdon County” will introduce you to a dozen magnificent vistas in this neighboring county.
18 Must-See Attractions in Huntingdon County will introduce you to a host of recreational opportunities inside the borders of Fulton County’s northern neighbor.
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