Cowans Gap State Park is a diverse landscape nestled within the scenic Allens Valley of Fulton County. Campers come to enjoy the park’s 1,085 acres which offer a large lake, a full-size campground, provincial lodges, and many climbing trails throughout. Aside from the attractions, Buchanan State Forest encompasses the park, offering up fun and beauty regardless of the season. Open every day of the year, the park is a great place to visit for day-trip recreation. That said, if planning to camp here you’ll want to prepare in advance as campsite availability changes by the season.
One of the unique offerings that Cowans Gap features is a number of environmental educational programs for the local public. These programs serve to help the pubic, especially the youth, foster a sense of responsibility for the nature that surrounds them every day. There are guided walks, hands-on activities, and even evening programs for those up to it.
Aside from the educational opportunities, Cowans Gap is also right in the center of over 71,000+ acres of protected land thanks to Buchanan State Forest. There are 19 tracts of forest which occupy the acreage, showcasing numerous ravines, gulches, and brooks as well as groves of pine, hemlock, and maple.
Subsequently, this wild and rugged backdrop attracts hikers, campers, fishers, and outdoor enthusiasts from all over. A number of state game lands located nearby are also popular visiting places for season hunters looking to bag an elk or other large game.
Within the campground itself, there’s a variety of fun activities to get in on. During the winter, the park lake freezes making it perfect for ice-fishing and other winter fun. There’s also a maintained skating rink, so you can even come and ice-skate or play a quick game of hockey.
It’s during the warmer months however that Cowans Gap state park really starts to shine. Once the lake unfreezes, campers flock for kayaking, canoeing, and pedal boating. The campground itself starts to bustle as children and families visit the local volleyball courts, and check out the nearby trails on Horseback. The lake offers a sandy beach area to recreate, as well as a pier for fishers to get easier access to deep water.
Campsites are fully serviced here, and spacious enough to accommodate most families. There are restrooms available throughout the park, and a full-service concession stand for firewood and other conveniences. There are also cabins available for rental, but like most parks be sure to plan ahead as they tend to fill up quick.
It is a nice campground. There is showers on site and depending on the time you get to the showerhouse it may be a cold one. Nice small lake within walking distance along with a beach. There is also a few hiking trails near the campground.
This is a great place for a long weekend away. The tent sites are nice and they have a number of dog friendly sites. Fun beach area, hikes and fishing.
Campground Review: Cowans Gap State Park was pretty awesome. Off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Fort Littleton, through Burnt Cabin on Rt522, signage the entire way. A drive through the PA mountain-scape, excellent scenery to be seen.
The dog section is 1-30 and a few cabins are offered for them also. No restrictions for dogs on the trails but they are restricted from the rest of the campground.
Several trails to enjoy with easy to very strenuous climbs. Part of the Allegheny trail passes through the Buchanan State Forest, near the campground. Would be a good place to practice your backpacking craft.
New showerhouse facilities which are energy efficient lighting and heating. The water in the shower never gets very warm but they are very clean and well maintained.
There is plenty of water sports at the lake, watercraft, swimming and fishing.
Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I have the opportunity to review some pretty awesome outdoor gear. I received Mishmi Takin hiking boots after winning one of the monthly contests.
I love the color, I’m all about burnt orange. I have large feet and was happy to see that the company offers footwear up to 13.5 in. I ordered an 11, was surprised when they arrived and were a little big on my feet. So you may want to order a 1/2 size down. On the flip side though I put on my thick hiking socks, synched the laces down and they fit fine.
I wore the boots multiple times during our 8 state trip on several different trail types. I was impressed by grip, no slippage on multiple surfaces.
I hate to say it but I have sweaty feet! And wearing thick hiking socks in boots often leaves me with raisinie toes and damp socks/boots at the end of a long hike. I did not experience that problem while wearing the Mishmi Boots though. My feet stayed comfortable and were dry when I pulled the boots off back at camp. I am liking these boots!
Pet friendly (spaces 1-30, Campground A), nice shower houses with heat, well laid out beach, beach house, watercraft rentals, friendly park rangers & staff, and in the center of trails galore!
This was my 3rd trip to Cowan's Gap, and this year I reserved the large group tent site for mainly families of my son's soccer team. We had about 40 people, most of which were kids. Last year, we all stayed at a few of the single campsites for RVs but used tents. This was not ideal as the ground was all gravel, and it was right next to the road. The group site is much better, because it is set back into the woods reasonably far from the road, providing quieter and more natural surroundings. Also, many of the kids had bikes, so they were able to ride around the campsite without us worrying about cars on the road. The group site has tent pads which are flat and gravel covered, but the rest of the area is natural forest floor with some grassy and mossy areas.
Probably the best feature of the group site is that it is right next to a clean, shallow stream, so the kids could play in it non stop, catching minnows and throwing rocks with minimal parental supervision.
There is a private bathhouse for the group area, reasonably clean and with running water. No showers though. There are showers at the lake/beach area, but I'm not sure if they are open past Labor Day, and we went one week after. The place was not crowded at all while we were there this time, but during the summer season when I've been there in the past, the beach area can get pretty packed.
Firewood is somewhat challenging and pricey, as it is only sold by a guy who appears to be a permanent RV resident (living at camp site #1 for reference) in the off season. The park asks that no out of state firewood be brought in for fear of spreading pests like emerald ash borer.
Rangers are friendly and helpful, and we learned from one that the closest ER is only 11 miles away (Fulton County medical center in Mcconnellsburg) when my youngest split open his chin and needed stitches. There is generally poor to no cell service across most of the park, although by the lake you can sometimes get a few bars for texts to go thru.
Overall, everyone loved the weekend at Cowan's Gap. We had perfect weather, which certainly was nice. I'm guessing we'll go back again next year with an even bigger crew.
We arrived after dark, way past the 3pm check-in time, but didn't have any trouble finding our reserved campsite. There were plenty of signs; everything is well marked. We stayed at site 23, a tent site. Sites 1-30 allow pets. This loop was full. I would recommend booking in advance if you plan on bringing your dogs. Vet records or proof of vaccines weren't required.
The tent sites are paved so you can't hammer stakes into the ground. It was windy so we had to get the gear into tent so we wouldn't get blown away.
The water pump is located right in front of site 23. This was convenient but we also had a lot of visitors. If we stay again we would probably choose a more private site with less foot traffic.
The bathrooms were very clean. However, the closest bathroom didn't have showers. It also only had cold water. The bathhouse with showers was located at the other end of the loop; a little bit of a walk. It had three regular showers and one large handicap accessible shower. The sinks at this one did have hot water.
Check-in the next morning was very quick and easy. I had paid online when I made the reservation so I didn't have to do anything. The park rangers were very friendly.
We drove down to the lake from our site after we finished packing up. The lake was beautiful. There's a beach and swimming area. There's a little viewing area/dock with information on the bald eagles and osprey that live there. They have a little concession stand that sold drinks, French fries and some other snacks. They have a little gift shop with t-shirts for sale.
Overall we enjoyed our stayed. The only complaint we had, and it's a pretty big one, is that there's NO CAMP STORE. No place to buy bags of ice, extra batteries, lighters, or any other supplies that people usually need when camping. And this campground is in the middle of nowhere. There's no Walmart's or grocery stores for several miles. Luckily we were only staying for one night and had what little we needed. If you plan on staying for more than a couple days, make sure you come very prepared! There is a little diner though called Milky Way's that we stopped at for breakfast on the way home, not far from the campground entrance. I give them a thumbs up. Very good food for very cheap.
Have only visited the day-use area of this park, which was very beautiful, clean, and relatively quiet. Nice snack and bathing facilities close to beach, as well. This park is located in a quiet, mountain setting in south-central PA; feels like you're out in the country, but it's also not far off the turnpike, so pretty accessible. Would definitely return!