Colonel Denning State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Colonel Denning State Park is a little slice of heaven tucked away in north-central Cumberland County. Surrounded by rolling mountains, Colonel Denning State Park's 273 acres of woodland is the perfect place for guests to enjoy a little peace and quiet. The park offers guest ample outdoor recreational opportunities with its three and a half-acre Doubling Gap Lake. Guests will find the lake ideal for swimming and boating in the summer and ice-fishing and ice-skating in the winter. The park provides a 52-site campground. Guests will also enjoy volleyball, picnicking and multi-use trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Colonel Denning State Park is the perfect place to bring the family to enjoy nature. The lovely year-round woodland park, named for William Denning, serves as a gateway to the 96,000-acre surrounding Tuscarora State Forest.

Guests may be interested to know that William Denning was not actually a Colonel. Mr. Denning was however a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and a manufacturer of wrought iron cannons. Denning acted as a sergeant in the Continental Army. He was stationed near Carlisle at Washingtonburg Forge, now the Carlisle Barracks. While stationed there, Denning explored and mastered the technique of creating lighter and more easily transported cannons. Mr. Denning accomplished this by welding strips of wrought iron together in layers and building the cannon with these layers. Denning lived out his life following the Revolution near Newville. His grave can be found in the cemetery of Big Spring Presbyterian Church in Newville.

Guests may also be interested to know that many facilities at Colonel Denning State Park were constructed during the Great Depression in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Colonel Denning State Park was formally opened in 1936.

These lovely historic public lands are located in Doubling Gap. The gap got its name from the “S” turn here where Blue Mountain doubles back upon itself.

RV Rentals in Colonel Denning State Park

Transportation in Colonel Denning State Park

Driving

The park's address is:

1599 Doubling Gap Rd.

Newville, PA. 17241

Colonel Denning State Park is within three hours of Washington DC. Guests will be traveling north along PA-233. Guests will see the park on their right after passing the Park Maintenance Building and two unnamed roads.

The Park is within two hours of Baltimore. Guests will be traveling south along PA-233. They will proceed for some distance through the surrounding forest before seeing the park on their left. If they pass two unnamed roads and the Park Maintenance Building they have gone too far.

Guests will find the park easily as the road they are traveling has few roads exiting at this point. The is eight miles north of Newville and nine miles south of Landisburg, along PA 233.

Parking

Parking is provided at the Flat Rock Trail head and at the entrance to the walk-in camping sites. Equestrian parking is also provided within the park.

Public Transport

There is no public transportation available within the park.

Campgrounds and parking in Colonel Denning State Park

Campsites in Colonel Denning State Park

Reservations camping

Colonel Denning State Park

The wooded 49-site campground at Colonel Denning State Park tent and trailer campground opens the opening day of trout season and closes the day after rifle deer season in December. Guests to the lovely 273-acre state park will enjoy the tranquil beauty of the by rolling mountains surrounding them. Colonel Denning State Park offers guests a perfect place to enjoy a little peace and quiet. The park offers guest ample outdoor recreational opportunities with its three and a half-acre Doubling Gap Lake. Guest will find the lake ideal for swimming and boating in the summer and ice-fishing and ice-skating in the winter. Guests will also enjoy volleyball, picnicking and multi-use trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Colonel Denning State Park is the perfect place to bring the family to enjoy nature.

Each camp site has a picnic table and fire. The campground can accommodate RV’s up to 40 feet in length and allows pets on designated campsites. The park offers firewood and ice are for sale at the campground host site.

The park can also accommodate organized group tent camping. Qualified adult and youth groups may reserve the organized group tenting area for overnight use. The organized group campsite can accommodate a maximum size group of 20 people.

This walk-in space includes: five tent pads, lantern holders, picnic tables, and a large fire ring.

Guests should note that the campground also provides a playground, lake fishing, pit toilets, and water.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Colonel Denning State Park

In-Season

Swimming

Colonel Denning State Park offers access to lake swimming with a sandy beach. The sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, from 8:00 A.M. to sunset. Guest should note that there are no lifeguards. Guests are asked to follow posted rules for swimming.

Guests will find food concessions near the beach during the summer season and ample picnic tables.

The beach is large and offers a nice variety of areas in both shade and sun. The beach is well kept and appears to be raked daily. The water in the roped swimming area was clean and clear. Guests will find that the kids enjoy watching minnows and trying to catch minnows and tadpoles as well as searching for rocks/shells.

As this is lake water guests should expect it to be cool. Guests will find that the water becomes cooler as they proceed into deeper water. Guests will find Adirondack chairs in a line along the back area of the beach (in the shade) which is nice. However, the chairs cannot be moved so guests may wish to bring beach chairs. The sand is clean and deep, making it ideal for the children to play.

Guests should note that 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 smoking restriction includes:

  • Cigarettes
  • Pipes
  • Cigars
  • E-cigarettes
  • Other handheld, lighted smoking devices

Hiking

Lovely wooded Colonel Denning State Park offers three hiking trails with a total of three and a half miles to explore. The most notable trail within the park is the two and a half-mile (one-way) Flat Rock Trail. The trail offers guests a strenuous, rocky climb and leads to a 180-degree panoramic view of the Valley. Guests will most enjoy this hike in the fall when they can see miles of dense fall foliage and perhaps view hawks in migration from the Flat Rock lookout. The trail head is located next to the Visitors Center.

Doubling Gap Trail is a one-mile moderate hike with mostly level ground. This loop trail and begins and ends at Doubling Gap Lake. The trail offers guests the opportunity to learn about natural history with several interpretive waysides. The trail is lovely regardless of the time of year as it meanders around a mountain stream.

Rattlesnake Trail offers guest a more difficult one-mile hike. Rocky in places, this trail winds through a mixed oak forest in the foothills of Blue Mountain.

Guests should also note that Colonel Denning State Park is a trail head for Tuscarora State Forest and the 252-mile Tuscarora Trail. The trails in the adjoining forest are accessible from the park and can be combined with those in the park for a total of 13 trails with 18-miles available for guests to explore.

Fishing

Guests to lovely Colonel Denning State Park will find that the park offers fishing on the three and a half-acre Doubling Gap Lake. Guests will enjoy pausing beneath the hardwoods and fishing in the sun-dappled lake stocked with trout. The park also maintains a fishing pier by the dam for people with disabilities. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission limits, seasons and regulations apply. Guests may also enjoy ice fishing in the winter time.

Off-Season

Cross-country skiing and Ice-skating

Outdoor enthusiasts will welcome the opportunity lovely Colonel Denning State Park affords them in regards to winter recreation. This lovely 273-acre year-round park in Newville, PA provides guests the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities even as the park gives way to winter and is transformed into a ice clad wonderland.

Winter guests are invited to glide around on moderately hilly to mountainous terrain. Guests should note that cross-country skiing is permitted on existing roads and trails. Even those new to the activity will greatly enjoy this low-cost winter activity.
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. Guests should note that ice thickness is not monitored and always proceed with caution.

Hunting

Guests who enjoy hunting will be excited to hear that hunting is allowed both in Colonel Denning State Park and on the adjacent Tuscarora State Forest. Hunting is permitted during established seasons, and the park has many acres are open to:

Hunting

Trapping

Dog Training

Guests will find that deer, squirrel, and wild turkey are common to the park. Guests should note that 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.

DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Hunting in Colonel Denning State Park is ADA accessible. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea, similar to treasure hunting, is to locate hidden containers through the use of a location and/or hints. Geocaching can be enjoyed by people of all age groups, and is a great way to engage the family in a low-cost outdoor activity.
Guests will find several geocaches located within Colonel Denning State Park.

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