COLONEL DENNING STATE PARK
COLONEL DENNING STATE PARK
1599 Doubling Gap Rd.
Newville, Pennsylvania 17241
Toll Free: 888-727-2757
Colonel Denning State Park, in north central Cumberland County, is in Doubling Gap, so named by the "S" turn where Blue Mountain doubles back on itself. This feature may be seen from the Doubling Gap Vista in adjacent Tuscarora State Forest. The park has 273 acres of woodland and a 3.5-acre lake.
William Denning, (1737-1830) American Revolution veteran for whom the park is named, was never a colonel but he is deserving of a place in history for his manufacturing of wrought iron cannons. William Denning served his country as a sergeant from March 1778 to April 1780 in Nathaniel Irish's Company of Artillery Artificers in Benjamin Flower's Regiment. Denning was stationed just outside of Carlisle, PA at Washingtonburg Forge, now Carlisle Barracks. The forge provided armaments for the Continental Army, including cannons. It is at this forge that William Denning made wrought iron cannons in a process of welding gads (strips) of wrought iron in successive layers to produce a cannon lighter and better able to resist failure during firing than cast iron cannons.
Unfortunately, none of Denning's cannons survive today. Historical documents help us imagine from what Denning's cannons looked like. It is also not known when or who added the "colonel" to Sergeant William Denning's name. After the Revolution, William Denning lived out his life near Newville, PA and is interred with his only son and daughter in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church in Newville. His monument reads "Blacksmith and Forger of Wrought Iron Cannon."
The park became a state recreational area about 1930, under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and was developed formally in 1936 through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-111 in Perry County.
Camping: rustic sites
The 52-site, tent and trailer campground is open from the opening day of trout season to the day after deer season in December. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and are near non-flush toilets and a sanitary dump station.
The sand beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. A snack bar near the beach is open during the summer season.
to this park:
This wooded park has over 200 picnic tables and a limited number of charcoal grills. There are two picnic pavilions that 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 Picnic Pavilion #1.
Hiking: 18 miles of trails
The 2.5-mile Flat Rock Trail rises to Flat Rock, a beautiful scenic vista of the Cumberland Valley. The one-mile, self-guiding Doubling Gap Trail is a moderate hike. The Hiking and Nature Trail Guide is available at the park office and has a map and detailed description of the hiking trails in the park and surrounding forest lands.
In addition to the 18 miles of hiking trails, the park is a trailhead for the 105-mile Tuscarora Trail.
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.
Carlisle, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, York and Chambersburg are all within a one-hour drive of the park and accessible over major roadways. For more information on nearby attractions, contact Pennsylvania's Capital Region Vacation Bureau, 800-995-0969.
Scenic Views: There are three scenic views on nearby state forest lands that can be reached by vehicle. Contact the park office for the locations of vistas.
Tuscarora State Forest: Over 30,000 acres of state forest lands are adjacent to, and northwest of the park. These lands are open to the public. There are many scenic and historical features throughout these areas. 717-536-3191
Hemlocks Natural Area: This stand of old growth hemlock is about 20 miles from the park near New Germantown, Perry County. Information can be obtained by contacting Tuscarora State Forest.
State Game Land 169: Several thousand acres of State Game Land 169 are within ten miles of the park. These lands are primarily managed for upland game animals and deer. These lands lie between PA Routes 641 and 997 about five miles southwest of the park. 877-877-9107
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
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The park is eight miles north of Newville and nine miles south of Landisburg, along PA 233.