Colonel Denning State Park, in north-central Cumberland County, has 273 acres of woodland and a 3.5-acre lake. The park serves as a gateway to the 96,000-acre Tuscarora State Forest, which surrounds the park.
These scenic and historic public lands are located in Doubling Gap, so named by the “S” turn where Blue Mountain doubles back on itself.
Hiking at Colonel Denning State Park
Two trails lie entirely inside that park while hikers can also access many miles of trails in the adjoining Tuscarora State Forest.
Doubling Gap Nature Trail
1 mile, more difficult hiking
This self-guiding nature trail is mostly level and begins and ends at Doubling Gap Lake.
The trail features several interpretive waysides explaining the natural history found around a mountain stream.
Flat Rock Trail
2.5 miles, most difficult hiking
The park acts as the trailhead for the 2.5-mile Flat Rock Trail which leads to the top of Blue Mountain in Tuscarora State Forest.
The steep and rocky trail is worth the effort; it culminates at Flat Rock, a natural rock outcrop that provides a beautiful scenic vista of the Cumberland Valley.
1 mile, more difficult hiking
Rocky in places, this trail winds through a mixed oak forest on the foothills of Blue Mountain.
105 miles, trailhead access only
The 105-mile Tuscarora Trail is the northern portion of a 220-mile bypass of the Appalachian Trail.
The Hiking and Nature Trail Guide available at the park office has maps and detailed descriptions.
Picnicking at Colonel Denning State Park
Numerous picnic tables and charcoal grills are scattered throughout the park and located near playground equipment.
Two picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Play equipment is near both picnic pavilions.
Stay the Night at Colonel Denning State Park
Campground closed in 2018 for renovations
The 49-site, tent and trailer campground opens the opening day of trout season and closes the day after rifle deer season in December.
Each site has a picnic table and fire ring and a sanitary dump station.
Swimming at Colonel Denning State Park
The sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, from 8:00 A.M. to sunset.
Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming.
A food concession near the beach may be open during the summer season.
Smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the swimming area. For visitors who smoke and still want to use the beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes:
Other handheld, lighted smoking devices
Boating at Colonel Denning State Park
non-powered boats only
Non-motorized canoes and kayaks may be used on Doubling Gap Lake.
Boating is prohibited from the opening day of trout season to the Friday before Memorial Day.
Boats must be carried in from the nearby parking lot and launched in the designated launch area located at the west end of the beach.
Fishing at Colonel Denning State Park
The 3.5-acre Doubling Gap Lake has trout fishing.
This activity or structure is ADA accessible. A fishing pier for people with disabilities is by the dam.
Hunting at Colonel Denning State Park
During established seasons, many acres are open to:
Training of dogs
Common game species are:
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas.
Cross-country Skiing at Colonel Denning State Park
While there is no formal cross-country skiing trail system, skiing is permitted on existing roads and trails and in all areas of the park.
Terrain is moderately hilly to mountainous.
Ice Skating at Colonel Denning State Park
When conditions permit, the natural lake ice is monitored for ice skating in swimming area. Skating is permitted from 8:00 A.M. until sunset.
Ice skating is at your own risk. Ice thickness is not monitored.