Tucked in the side of Conococheague Mountain, Big Spring State Park is a quaint picnic and hiking area. A short loop trail leads to a partially completed railroad tunnel with historic interpretation at the trailhead. The park also provides access to the Iron Horse Trail for day and overnight hiking. The park takes its name from nearby Big Spring, whose waters form the scenic Shermans Creek.
History of the Area
In the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, logging companies lumbered the area. Trees were hauled from the stump to the mill on the Perry Lumber Railroad. This narrow gauge railroad had a terminus at the east end of the park. The trees were cut to supply tanneries, barrel manufacturers and charcoal furnaces. A tannery near the spring operated from early in the 1800s until 1860. In 1871, an axe handle factory was started in the old tannery.
The Newport and Sherman?s Valley Railroad laid tracks through the park to link to the Path Valley Railroad in Franklin County. Their tunnel through Conococheague Mountain failed and the Newport and Sherman?s Valley Railroad went out of business.
During the early 1900s, the area was a community picnic area accessible by road and railroad. The Commonwealth developed the current facility in 1936 with Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-111.
Many picnic tables and picnic pavilions are throughout the park. 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. Call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS for reservations.
A short loop trail leads to the site of the partially completed railroad tunnel. Historic interpretation is provided at the trailhead. The park provides access to the Iron Horse Trail, designed for day hikes and overnight hiking in Tuscarora State Forest.
Big Spring State Park serves as a trailhead providing parking, restrooms and access to the extensive snowmobile trail system in Tuscarora State Forest.
For more information on nearby attractions, contact: Pennsylvania?s Capital Region Vacation Bureau, 800-995-0969.
Colonel Denning State Park: This quaint park offers camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, hunting, cross-country skiing and ice skating and is in the scenic Doubling Gap along PA 233.
Tuscarora State Forest: The 90,968-acre forest is open to hunting, fishing and general recreation. Four miles east of the park is the Hemlocks State Forest Natural Area. This old growth stand of our state tree is magnificent. The National Park Service designated the Hemlocks area as a National Natural Landmark in 1973. 717-536-3191.