[Photo Story] Cooling off with a trip to the Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach

5 min readPosted July 19, 2019

It’s up there with the Jigger Shop and the Playhouse in terms of Mt. Gretna landmarks: The Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach, a summer destination for Lebanon families since the early 20th-century.

All photos by LebTown photographer Will Trostel.

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Illustration that ran on the front page of the June 2, 1886 issue of the Lebanon Daily News.

Today’s Mt. Gretna Lake is the historic Lake Conewago. The body of water dates back to the late 1800’s when the Conewago Creek was dammed.

See more historic postcards of Lebanon County here.
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According to Lebanon Daily News archives, the name Mt. Gretna Lake Beach first came into use in the 1930’s. This ad comes from a late 1930’s advertisement in the newspaper.

The entrance to Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach. Find admission information below.
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The 10-acre Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach is owned by Eastern Enterprises, a local company run by physician Gene Otto III, whose family has long held significant land in the area.

The lake as seen from above.

Gene Otto, Sr. originally came to Mt. Gretna with his wife Midge to take over the old Laurel Park, which lay east of Mt. Gretna village. The Park closed in the 1950’s but some structures remained into the 2000’s.

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(Late last year, Eastern Enterprises Inc. finalized its sale of Soldiers Field in Mt. Gretna to the Pennsylvania Chautauqua for a sum of $975,000. The land will be dedicated next weekend with a “living history” weekend.)

Closeup of the beach.

The lake was formed by damming the Conewago Creek. Since it’s a man-made body of water, the lake can be drained each spring for maintenance and inspection.

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The view as seen from a canoe.

The Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours are Monday through Friday 11:30am to 6:30pm. Daily admission is $19 for adults, $10 for youth 4-11, and $10 for seniors (60+). Children under 4 may enter for free.

The rope swing and high dive are two of the most thrilling activities available to patrons of the Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach.

It’s a bit late this year, but the Lake & Beach also offers season passes, at $90 for youth, $170 for adults, and $370 for up to four people.

Bring your own tube or rent one at the lake.

Rentals include beach chairs ($4/day), canoes/kayaks ($7/thirty minutes), and tubes ($7/day plus deposit). You may also bring your own inner tubes and inflatables.

Lifeguards keep a watchful eye on waterfront activities at Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach. In this case, we did not want to interrupt her shift to get her name—concentration is paramount!

Certified lifeguards are on duty at Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach at all times. There is also a shallow roped area for those who are not capable swimmers.

LebTown’s view from the picnic area located on the left side of the lake.

Changing facilities and free bike/car parking are available on-site.

Rachel Shirey works the cashier station at the snack bar during LebTown’s visit.

Snacks available include pizza, nachos, and a number of other quick eats and cold treats.

Quick bites available in the snack shop.
Blue raspberry slushy anyone? Lexie Keffer refills the machine during our visit.

As with the Jigger Shop, Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach serves a secondary purpose of providing a fun, outdoor summer job for local students.

Connor Aitken works the canoe and kayak rental station during our visit.
Connor Aitken and Luke Shirey pose for a picture mid-shift at the canoe and kayak station.

Mt. Gretna residents with valid permits are allowed to launch hardshell canoes at the lake, but for everyone else, there’s a rental kiosk that will get you and your family out on the water for $7 per half-hour. Life jackets are included.

“What’s that over there?” A family canoe adventure spotted during our recent trip.

As mentioned above, the snack bar has plenty of options for noshing… but if you’re feeling hungry afterwards, there’s always the possibility of a follow-up classic trip to the Jigger Shop.

LebTown’s lunch at the lake consisted of soft pretzels and cheese dip.

Outside food and drink may also be brought in, and the facility has grills available for use if you want to cook up some tasty burgers and hot-dogs (if you’re doing steak, shoot us an invite to news@lebtown.com).

Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach is located at 130 Lakeview Drive in Mt. Gretna. Looking for more info? Visit their website here.

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