Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 2, 2022.
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Kooser State Park is a smaller park by Laurel Highlands standards, coming in at approximately 250 acres in size.
While this one lacks in size compared to other state parks nearby, it makes up for it with a gorgeous lake, a trout run, and beautiful nature all around.
A visit here can be quick, but the park presents many opportunities for those who want to stay a while as well!
What You Can See at Kooser State Park
As Kooser State Park can only be defined as small by Laurel Highlands standards, the sights here are a fair bit more limited than others in the area.
The highlights of this particular park are Kooser Lake, Kooser Run, and, of course, the forest itself.
Kooser Lake can be accessed in just a few steps from the main parking lot off of Route 31 and is known for being stocked with trout, bass, and bluegill for fishing. Kooser Run is a small stream that runs east-west within the park and is considered to be a high-quality trout stream as well.
For those who hike, the trails within Kooser offer ample opportunities to cross-cross over Kooser Run (offering beautiful views) on the Tree Army Trail, and the Kincora Trail allows you to climb up in elevation into the forest to check out the beautiful trees and, during our fall visit, colorful foliage as well. Apart from general nature scenes, the Tree Army Trail passes by a cool-looking bent tree which was a highlight to us.
For those who like to camp, the park has a number of cabins available for rent nestled along the Tree Army Trail. In the winter, Kooser is also home to a marked cross-country skiing trail. While we personally have not visited for this activity, we hope to check it out on a future winter visit!
Hiking at Kooser State Park
When visiting Kooser State Park, those who want to hike will only have access to the two trails mentioned above, with the Kincora Trail clocking in at one-mile and the Tree Army Trail hitting just about 0.5 miles one-way.
While these trails are listed as being out-and-back style hikes, you can break off the Tree Army Trail before its western terminus and easily connect up to the Kincora Trail which then loops back to the eastern side of Kooser Lake (for a total hike of just over two miles). Signage for this connecting point is not terribly obvious, although the trails are generally well-blazed, so you'll do well to have a map pulled up on your phone all the same (likewise, signal when deep in the park was limited due to its lower elevation).
The two trails are a night-and-day difference from each other, however.
The Tree Army trail is relatively flat and follows along Kooser Run. While the path is primarily dirt, you can expect some rocks and tree stumps to contend with. That being said, this trail has very little in the form of difficult elements for hikers.
The Kincora Trail, on the other hand, climbs up approximately 200 feet in elevation for a hike on top of a ridgeline before descending back down to a lower altitude. Although 200 feet is not a huge gain by most standards, the hike up here can be quite steep and incredibly rocky, especially at the steepest points, so those who are not sure-footed may want to approach with caution. Likewise, during our fall visit the fallen leaves made this one far more difficult than it otherwise should have been.
While these concerns, to us at least, are minor, they are important to note before visiting the park.
Overall, unless you visit for an overnight stay in a cabin or to fish, a visit to Kooser State Park is likely to be quite brief. We completed our ~two-mile hike in about an hour and truly saw almost all corners of the park in the quick visit. So if you are looking to expand your Laurel Highlands experience more, be sure to add a visit to other nearby parks like Laurel Summit State Park or Laurel Hill State Park for a combination visit!
Kooser State Park is located at 943 Glades Pike in Somerset, PA.