Adventure PA: Kings Gap Environmental Education Center

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – On the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find Kings Gap Environmental Education Center. It’s known for its mansion and the view of the Cumberland Valley.

“The mansion was built in 1908 by the Cameron family, the same Cameron family that Cameron Street in Harrisburg is named after,” center manager Scott Hackenburg said. “The grandfather of the builder was Simon Cameron, who was a U.S. senator for Pennsylvania and secretary of war for Abraham Lincoln in the beginning of the Civil War.”

Today, the mansion is used for weddings and meetings and it’s open to the public. There are 38 rooms. Downstairs, you’ll find unique artwork; upstairs, the bedrooms. Be sure to check out the bathrooms. They still have the original sinks and claw foot tubs.

Next to the mansion, you’ll find the gardens.

“The gardens are the original vegetable and flower garden from the Cameron estate,” Hackenburg said.

Now, it’s used as an educational garden. It’s maintained by master gardeners who offer classes and features herbs, native plants, and different habitats.

Nearby at the educational building, you’ll find something that is helping the garden flourish. A display of honey bees shows what a hive looks like on the inside.

Location: Kings Gap is near Carlisle on Kings Gap Road, a 3 1/2-mile winding road that takes you to the top of the mountain. The park is about a 50-minute drive from Harrisburg.

Accommodations: The park is a day-use area only. Nearby state parks offer family camping. There are modern bathroom facilities at the top of the mountain. Starting in the fall, you can rent a mansion bedroom for an overnight stay.

Cost: Day-use areas and most education classes are free.

Best time to visit: Spring for the mountain laurel, fall for the foliage.

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