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Kooser State Park

Park Guide Pictures

Park Guide

Source: Pennsylvania DCNR

Kooser Lake PA
Kooser Lake at Kooser State Park, PA
This park is stamped with the character of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. Picturesque cabins, beach and camping area provide relaxing scenery. Kooser State Park is bounded by Forbes State Forest on two sides and is an ideal spot to start an overnight backpacking trip on the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

In the heart of the Laurel Highlands at an altitude of 2,600 feet, Kooser State Park attracts visitors year-round to its 250 acres of forest and the beautiful trout stream that flows the full length of the park.


Kooser Lake
Kooser Lake at Kooser State Park, PA
Kooser State Park is on PA Route 31 midway between the Donegal and Somerset turnpike interchanges, at the eastern foothills of Laurel Mountain Summit. Kooser State Park is a one hour drive from Johnstown, Pa. or Pittsburgh, Pa.

Recreational Opportunities

There are 9 rustic rental cabins available for use year-round. Summer rentals are for one week only. The cabins have mattresses, refrigerator, stove and hot water. Renters must bring all cooking and sleeping supplies. Advanced reservations are required. Call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS. Winter rentals are through a concessionaire. For reservation from the third week in December through the third week of March call 412-720-4074.

Go to cabins for more information.

Eastern Hemlock PA
Eastern Hemlock at Kooser State Park, PA
Cabin Map: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view this map. Go download a copy of Acrobat Reader. Go to the Kooser cabin map. (74 kb)

Camping: rustic sites, some with electric
There are 47 tent and trailer campsites open the second Friday in April through mid-December. Non-flush toilets and a sanitary dumping station are available. Fourteen (14) campsites have electric hookups.

Campground Map: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view this map. Go download a copy of Acrobat Reader. Go to the campground map. (28 kb)

Go to camping for more information.

Organized Group Tenting: Non-profit organized adult and youth groups may use the 120-person capacity group tenting area from mid-April to mid-December. The area is named the Van Dyke Area after a salt wagon driver, Mr. George Van Dyke, who was killed in the late 1800s when his wagon overturned.

Go to organized group tenting for more information.

Picnicking: Many picnic tables and the Mighty Oak Picnic Pavilion are available for year-round picnics.

Fishing: The four-acre Kooser Lake provides good fishing for trout, bass and bluegill. No boating is permitted. Night fishing is not permitted. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply.

For complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

Hunting: Because of the park's small size, hunting is not permitted in the park. Hunters frequently camp in the park and walk to the Forbes State Forest lands that are adjacent to the park. Common game species are deer, turkey and grouse.

Swimming: A 350-foot swimming beach is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, unless posted otherwise. The regular hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A soda and juice machine concession and a dressing area are located near the beach.

Hiking: 1 mile of trails
The Kincora Trail is a popular trail named in honor of an Irish priest. Many short trails are in the day use area and cross-country ski trails are also available for hiking.

Cross-country Skiing: The 1.5 mile Kooser Trail is very popular due to the heavy snowfalls of the area. It is a well-marked trail and classified as "easiest."

There is also a 20-mile cross-country ski touring concession adjacent to the PA 653 parking area of nearby Laurel Ridge State Park. Fee required on this trail.


Kooser State Park derives its name from John Kooser who in 1867settled in the western end of the park near what is now known as Kooser Spring. The early settlers told of an American Indian battle that was fought nearby and a number of war arrows and spearheads have been found in the area. A contingent of Washington's Army, known as Coxes Army, crossed Laurel Summit near here during the Whiskey Rebellion.

The land for Kooser State Park was acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1922. In the late 1920s, the Van Dyke Area was used for summer tenting by people who would camp from early spring until late fall. In 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established in the western end of the park. The "CCC Boys" built new roads, fireplaces, cabins and a lake. In 1945, a tornado hit the area and did a tremendous amount of damage to Kooser's wooded areas.

In 1955, the present tent and trailer area was developed. Water was piped from Kooser Spring throughout the park and the original dam was rebuilt with a modern earth and concrete breast and an all-sand beach.

Design Character: The park's original design character was stamped by the Civilian Conservation Corps projects of the 1930s that established the existing lake and most of its use areas, its architecture and site details. The park design stresses rustic values in site and building materials and in their application: native stone, rough sawn and stained wood surfaces, log and timber members.


Kooser State Park
943 Glades Pike
Somerset, PA 15501-8509
e-mail: laurelhillsp@state.pa.us

Park Guide Pictures
Somerset County, PA Somerset County, Pennsylvania
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