Steeped in natural and historical features, the 696-acre Pine Grove Furnace State Park is at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in an area known as South Mountain. Visitors enjoy many recreational opportunities, including:
Two mountain lakes (Laurel Lake and Fuller Lake)
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Biking the rail trail
Visiting the Appalachian Trail Museum
Imagining when the park was a charcoal-fired iron furnace community
The park is surrounded by Michaux State Forest, which provides opportunities for exploring extensive public lands around South Mountain.
Hiking at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
4 miles of trails
0.3 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This short trail connects the Brickyard Day Use Are to the Organized Group Tenting Area.
Buck Ridge Trail
6 miles, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This trail through Michaux State Forest connects Kings Gap Environmental Education Center and Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The trailhead and a small parking area are across from the park office.
0.5-mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Creek Trail begins at the amphitheater and winds past vernal ponds and a stand of white pine along Mountain Creek near the campground.
1.4-miles, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This trail is a link between the rail trail to Fuller Lake and Icehouse Road to Laurel Lake. The trail affords the hiker an alternate path to Laurel Lake Day Use area other than the paved roadway. The trail meanders through forests and wetlands as it follows Mountain Creek downstream to Laurel Lake. Deer, heron, waterfowl, and beaver can be seen along this trail.
1 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Begin this scenic loop trail at the far end of the Fuller Ball Field. The footpath crosses Toms Run and passes through stands of mature pines and hemlocks.
Pole Steeple Trail
0.75-mile, blue blazes, most difficult hiking
This Michaux State Forest trail contains some steep climbs. The entire park can be viewed from the Pole Steeple Overlook, which is a quartzite rock outcropping. The trail begins at the Pole Steeple parking lot, along the Railroad Bed Road by Laurel Lake, and proceeds up Piney Mountain to the rocky overlook.
The steep grade and sheer drop may stress some individuals. Parents are advised to closely supervise children, especially when they are on the rocks and ledges.
0.25-mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
This short trail circles a small, forested swamp filled with interesting plants and animals. The trail begins and ends on the rail trail.
Appalachian Trail (National Scenic Trail)
Running through the heart of the park is probably the most famous footpath in the world, the Appalachian TrailOpens In A New Window (AT). The 2,186-mile long trail traverses the Appalachian Mountains, stretching as a continuous footpath from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in central Maine.
The trail is marked with white blazes, which can be seen near the Pine Grove General Store, Appalachian Trail Museum, Fuller Day Use Area, and on the rail trail.
About 2,000 people attempt to hike the entire AT in one year. These long distance hikers are called thru-hikers and most pass through the park from late spring through the summer months.
About one out of four thru-hikers will complete the whole trail. Reaching Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a milestone. The halfway point of the AT is several miles south of the park, in Michaux State Forest.
To commemorate the completion of half of the journey, it is a thru-hiker tradition to attempt the “half-gallon challenge” of eating one half of a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. On a summer day, it is common to see hikers working on the challenge at the Pine Grove General Store.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a popular destination for short-term backpackers and day hikers. About two to three million people walk a portion of the AT each year.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a popular staging point for short-term backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.
Boiling Springs to the north and Caledonia State Park to the south are each about a 20-mile hike from Pine Grove Furnace.
Overnight parking is available for backpackers in a special section of the Furnace Stack parking lot. Hikers should register their car and supply contact information and an itinerary at the park office.
Information, maps, guides, shuttles, and more are available.
Picnicking at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Many picnic tables are available throughout the park. Charcoal grills, drinking water, and restrooms are by the lakes and historic district.
Three picnic pavilions (seating 80 to 140) may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Stay the Night at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
This activity or structure is ADA accessible.
Seventy tent and trailer sites are available from late March to mid-December.
Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. A sanitary dump station is near the campground entrance.
A seasonal camp store is one quarter-mile from the campground.
Pets are permitted on designated campsites for a fee.
Swimming at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
The beaches at Fuller and Laurel lakes are open from May 1 to September 30, from 8:00 A.M. to sunset.
Laurel Beach is swim at your own risk. Please follow posted rules.
Fuller Beach has lifeguards on duty from 11:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M. daily, between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, unless otherwise posted. Please follow posted rules for swimming when lifeguards are off duty.
Swimmers at Laurel Lake and especially at Fuller Lake are advised to exercise caution because of the extreme depths and cold subsurface waters.
Smoking is prohibited on Fuller Beach and in the swimming area.
For visitors who smoke and still want to use this beach, designated areas adjacent to the beach are provided. The restriction includes:
Other handheld, lighted smoking devices
Wildlife Watching at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
The diverse habitats of Pine Grove Furnace State Park support a variety of wildlife through all seasons. The historic use of the area during the iron furnace period created a varied combination of open areas, wetlands, and vegetation that make the area unique for wildlife.
Spring and fall is the time of bird migrations. The forest, interspersed with ponds and wetlands, makes the park a rest stop for many migrating forest birds. Warblers, vireos, and thrushes stop to rest and eat before flying on to their breeding or winter homes.
Laurel Lake and its shoreline wetlands are a beacon that lures waterfowl. Merganser, Canada goose, mallard, loon, teal, and many other ducks can be seen swimming, diving, and dabbling for vegetation and small fish. Wild turkey and woodcock call from open areas.
Winter is a good time to see woodpeckers and evidence of their presence. Pine Grove Furnace has at least six species of woodpeckers.
Summer is the time of lush green vegetation and growing young animals. In thickets and along roads, watch for spotted fawns and frantic bluebirds searching for food to feed their hungry chicks. Butterflies reach their peak numbers and can be seen floating from flower to flower in the fields and wetlands.
During the fall, the deciduous trees lose their chlorophyll and their leaves reveal beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows. This is a time that many animals are preparing for the winter season ahead. There is a growing population of black bears in the area and visitors may see one putting on weight for the winter hibernation. Beavers may be seen working on lodges and dams in the upper channels of Laurel Lake at twilight.
Boating at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Electric motors only
Boating is permitted only on the 25-acre Laurel Lake, which has:
85 mooring spaces
Fishing at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
The common fish in the 25-acre Laurel Lake and the 1.7-acre Fuller Lake are:
Mountain Creek, which flows through the park, has coolwater species like brown, brook, and rainbow trout.
Ice fishing is permitted on the natural ice of Laurel Lake. Ice thickness is not monitored except in the designated ice skating area.
Ice sports are prohibited on Fuller Lake.
Hunting at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
During established seasons, more than 75 acres are open to:
Training of dogs
Common game species are:
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.
Biking at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Two miles of trails
All park roads and service roads are open to bicycles unless posted otherwise.
A two-mile bike trail connects the Furnace Stack Day Use Area with the Laurel Lake Day Use Area.
Once the railroad bed of the South Mountain Railroad, the trail surface is crushed limestone or paved. More than half of this route is on Old Railroad Bed Road and shares the road with vehicles.
Bicyclists are advised to use caution because all trails are shared with pedestrian traffic and some are open to motor vehicles.
Pennsylvania state law requires all bicyclists under the age of 12 to wear an approved helmet.
Cross-country Skiing at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Nordic skiers enjoy the rail trail when snow conditions allow. Although no trails are specifically designated for cross-country skiing, numerous opportunities exist both within the park and on the surrounding state forest lands.
Ice Skating at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
At Laurel Lake, a small area by the boat launch is maintained for ice skating.
Ice thickness is not monitored except in the skating area.
Ice Sports are prohibited on Fuller Lake.
Snowmobiling at Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Just south of the park, a nearby state forest land trailhead provides access to many miles of trails. Parking for vehicles and trailers also is available.
Maps of the trails are available at the park office.