This section of the Conestoga Trail System runs from Holtwood to Pequea, PA. After enjoying some startlingly unspoiled views of Pennsylvania’s lower Susquehanna, we headed back. Like my Fair Hill hike the previous day (read here), the high for this atypical summer Friday was in the low eighties. As we reentered the woods, we noticed the less well-preserved ruins of Lock 11 – overgrown and moss-covered in the brush that flanked the trail. Holtwood Dam Holtwood Dam is the oldest of three major dams built across the lower Susquehanna River, and the middle location of the three.It was constructed as the McCalls Ferry Dam between 1905 and 1910 by the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company. I think they are primarily to warn people should the dam decide to unexpectedly open its floodgates. Just before the Norman Woods Bridge turn left onto River Rd. We didn’t have to cover already-hiked trail and we gained an opportunity to explore the Holtwood Dam floodplain. Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. Being below Holtwood Dam, the river here is very shallow with many small pools full of minnows and crayfish. Copyright © 2020 The Mason-Dixon Trail System, Inc. All rights reserved. With that in mind, we chose to return to Mill Creek via the road. Standing on the rock-strewn bank, we gazed across the river to Lancaster County, a half-mile (as the boat floats) away. PPL Electric has promised to release waters into the park for a fixed 264 hours per year, to keep from losing too much money or harming the surrounding environment. The Holtwood Whitewater Park is a whitewater play park designed for playboating and freestyle kayaking. I will admit that once we crossed the big hayfield, through the searing sun, I laid down with her in the breezy shade when the trail ducked back into the woods. From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. This out and back section does take you up a steep hill to overlooks of the river, and a nice crossing of the Tucquan Creek. ( Log Out / Martic Township does not own, operate or maintain this area! Additionally, at 444 miles long, the river drains 27,500 square miles of America’s east coast, so there is an almost unimaginable potential for dangerous water levels during a major storm. As I said, I’ve never even heard these sirens in many years of hiking in the area. ( Log Out / The Pinnacle Overlook is a beautiful, short hike to a view of the Susquehanna River. About 30 per cent of the "trail" is a route marked along public roads; the remainder is actual trail. The blue blazes of the MDT eventually guided us north and away from Mill Creek. ( Log Out / Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run - The Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run are located in Holtwood, off of River Road. That was about ten years ago, and It’s been on my list to explore further ever since. Beyond, between tree-line and water, lay a wildflower-laden sward . I think you know. Entering the copse, we crossed a picturesque bridge over Anderson Creek before coming upon the lock. Lock 12/Osprey Nest to Holtwood Dam, PA 2.3 mile loop with moderate climbing Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. Right around the one-mile mark you'll come to Mill Creek. Road hiking is not a favorite of mine, but this time it turned out well. The park is located at the foot of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Dam and provides an artificial playground of rapids and waves for experienced playboat paddlers when the gates of the dam are opened at scheduled times throughout the year. This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Interspersed among the rocks were tall grasses and wildflowers. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. ( Log Out / Eventually, we followed the orange trail markers to the pinnacle. Return to the parking lot by walking down river (south) on the road. Had we simply hiked out and back, we would have netted six miles and nearly a thousand feet of elevation. Change ). Continuing on, we discovered many more tiny falls as the creek gamboled on its way to to join the Susquehanna. Follow the Mason-Dixon up river to where the trail crosses the creek by using River Rd bridge. https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/pennsylvania/holtwood-recreation-park Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. You'll pass a porta potty on the way. I don’t doubt that they exist – the Susquehanna has many dams, and the opening and closing of their floodgates can cause significant changes in the water level. Hike downhill (towards the river) to Lock 12. There were several stream crossings since our leader took us off the beaten path a few times. To find Holtwood Dam enter the 39.826771 latitude, and -76.336624 longitude coordinates into your GPS device or smart phone. Park at the second, smaller lot on the right (33 River Rd, Airville, PA). It sits on a bluff nearly 400 feet above the river and offers excellent views north along the … Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. There’s a lot of great trails along the Susquehanna – one gem is Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, MD. LOCATION.--Lat 39`49'40", long 76`20'01", Lancaster County, Hydrologic Unit 02050306, along inner skimmer wall at Holtwood Dam located on Holtwood Road about 0.5 mi southwest of town of Holtwood… 2.3 mile loop with moderate climbing Vance's first hike with a full backpack in decades, in preparation for a three or four day winter hike in the Shenandoahs. The 2,392 foot long, 55 foot high Holtwood Dam and associated plant generate 252 megawatts of hydroelectric power by way of 14 turbines. The trail on the climb over the bluff had been narrow, often without opportunity to step aside and allow other hikers COVID-safe passage. STATION.--01576980 SUSQUEHANNA RIVER AT HOLTWOOD DAM AT HOLTWOOD, PA WATER QUALITY DATA IS NOT TRANSMITTED VIA SATELLITE TELEMETRY AND THEREFORE WILL ONLY BE UPDATED ABOUT EVERY 6 WEEKS. PPL Electric has done a nice job over the years maintaining environmental preserves depicting the gorgeous scenery of Lancaster County. Enjoy boating from the Pequea Marina, above the Holtwood Dam and south of Safe Harbor Dam. Muddy Creek Access Water trail access. Twenty-inch flashboards were used to secure the pondage and head. There, we road-hiked several hundred yards before picking up the trail again as it veered into the woods and toward the river. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. This scenic area is definitely worth checking out for its semi-natural beauty. This section includes about a mile of hiking on railroad tracks. A spur followed the creek down to the banks of the river, and we took some time to explore. I was unable to determine if there is an operator or if the little guys have to push the buttons with their fins. The creek bubbled and spat as it tumbled over tiny falls on its way to the Susquehanna. We crossed River Road and continued upstream to Mill Creek Falls, a splendid cascade with multiple tiers of frothy water rushing over moss-covered rocks. From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. Yellow, purple, pink and white stippled the floodplain and brightened an otherwise bleak landscape. The Pinnacle Overlook, which is often referred to simply as The Pinnacle, is located just north of Holtwood Dam on the eastern banks of the Susquehanna River. (Buck, Drumore, Peach Bottom, Holtwood, Rawlinsville) In the southernmost part of the Southern End, you will find hiking trails, rich history and Buck Motorsports Park. We retraced our steps to (and along) River Road, but when we reached the turn off back into the woods, we made a decision that shortened our hike. Another thing that will take your breath away is the series of hiking trails around the dam. The Mason-Dixon Trail crosses the lock (blue blazes). After enjoying the views of the river, we retraced our steps to the Mason-Dixon Trail and headed west up Mill Creek. Will be returning for sure! Thanks for your comment, Ned. The dam was a rock-filled timber crib structure backed with earth on the upstream side to a slope. Gear Shakedown hike. The trail pathway features some stone paths, with a good length of natural surface throughout the hike. You end up on a gravel road by the Holtwood Dam, walk a few feet and turn right onto River Road and continue back to parking lot. Holtwood Dam: Lock 12 - See 33 traveller reviews, 26 candid photos, and great deals for Lancaster, PA, at Tripadvisor. Of the remaining locks on this defunct canal, 12 is one of the most well-preserved. The original dam, built between 1905 and 1910, included an ineffective fish ladder for migrating shad. Almost ninety years later, a motorized fish lift was installed to help the declining American shad population reach its spawning grounds. Please access the website using one of the following supported browsers: If you need fishing tackle, or are looking for a fishing guide or fishing charter please visit Tackle, Guides, Charters Holtwood Dam (also Holtwood Hydroelectric Dam, Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant, McCalls Ferry Dam) is the oldest of three major dams built across the lower Susquehanna River, and the middle location of the three.It was constructed as the McCalls Ferry Dam between 1905 and 1910 by the Pennsylvania Water & Power (PW&P) Company. From the bluff, the Mason-Dixon Trail immediately commenced a descent and eventually intersected River Road. Muddy Creek Access is part of the 53-mile Susquehanna River Water Trail-Lower Section, managed by Susquehanna Heritage. “The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal between Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, and Havre de Grace, Maryland, at the head of Chesapeake Bay, provided an interstate shipping alternative to 19th-century arks, rafts, and boats plying the difficult waters of the lower Susquehanna River. Once we had taken stock of the 180 year-old structure, we crossed the canal by way of a wooden bridge and headed north on the Mason-Dixon Trail. And the Conowingo Dam downriver can drain river levels. The ascent was abrupt and punctuated by short switchbacks that wriggled up the hill like a zig zag stitch joining the bluffs to the rolling Pennsylvania countryside. Climb the steps and hill to a great view. This 199 mile long trail starts at Whiskey Springs on the Appalachian Trail, in Cumberland County, PA and heads east towards the Susquehanna River, passing through Gifford Pinchot State Park en route. Although this hike packed less than five-hundred feet of elevation gain, almost all of that came in the mile between Mill Creek and the top of the bluff. We had traipsed three miles; six miles total seemed just right for that August afternoon. Three-quarters of a mile into our trek, we came to Mill Creek. We passed several large signs that warned of quickly rising water and advised us to leave the area immediately if sirens sounded. BIT|Hiker acknowledges the indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of the lands on which we hike. It sends literal tons of water crashing down to the rocks below, and the sights and sounds of such a powerful scene will take your breath away. 2 reviews of PPL Holtwood Environmental Preserve "Wow, I visited here yesterday with a Meetup hiking group. One such preserve is at the Holtwood Dam where, at the Face Rock Overlook, one has a great view of the water, and may even be able to spot an eagle. ♦, Date: August 21, 2020Location: Lower Chanceford Township, PATrailhead: 39.813418, -76.329029Distance: 4.8 milesElevation Gain: 495 feetDifficulty: Moderate. Down river, in the distance, was the Norman Wood Bridge. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours. The hike back up the old road and the top-wise blue-blazed trail to the Holtwood Arboretum was punctuated by Annie's 'breaks' - laying down, peeing, eating berries (yes, she does that). The area of Holtwood Dam, Lock 12 and Mill Creek Falls is fantastic! Give it a try, and if you have a friend who is into locks and canals and dams (oh my), bring ’em along and hike this trail in “lock” step. In that February hike, we had navigated snow and ice; at Lock 12 we looked forward to a comfortable, dry hike on the Mason-Dixon Trail that would roughly follow the tow-path of the S&T Canal. In all my years of hiking near the Susquehanna River, I have never been privy to the sound of high-water sirens. The beautiful Susquehanna River just a few minutes’ walk from the remains of Lock 12. A concrete walkway led away from the parking lot and past the remnants of an old lime kiln before disappearing into the woods. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. As we approached the riverbank, we passed through a pleasant, sandy area which was sheltered by trees and a massive rock shelf. What to do with such a pleasant day? We apologize, this browser is not currently supported by the site. Continuing south on River Road, we rejoined the Mason-Dixon Trail at Mill Creek. The Mason-Dixon Trail is a 195.9-mile (315.3 km), blue-blazed footpath that connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail, passing through Gifford Pinchot State Park and White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania and White Clay Creek State Park in Delaware. Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. I had my young son with me so we didn’t go too far, but did explore the ruins and early pieces of the trail. The Lock 12 section of the Mason-Dixon Trail is delightfully scenic and full of historical interest. After watching the osprey, proceed down the trail to the road and Holtwood Dam. Just before the Norman Woods Bridge turn left onto River Rd. Holtwood Dam and Hydroelectric Plant From the bluff, the Mason-Dixon Trail immediately commenced a descent and eventually intersected River Road. It was another strangely mild August day in the mid-Atlantic. The Holtwood Dam Park will soon join the ranks of these manmade thrills, and East coast boaters are eager to see how it measures up. The hiking trails are great and the scenery is beyond beautiful! This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. Day use areas close at dusk. Holtwood Dam. Lock 12 was completely dry, so we climbed down into the channel to look around. Today, the shad get an elevator ride up and over the dam. This section of the trail is an up and down hike through the creek valleys back to the tracks, and back up to the Pinnacle overlook. This time, Lisa joined me. Canal locks are a system by which boats are raised or lowered over stretches of varied terrain on a canal or other waterway. I wasn’t even aware that there were sirens! Gifford Pinchot State Park: Am I Unbalanced or Is It Just That Rock? This place was fantastic. Of its total length, 30 miles (48 km) were in Pennsylvania and 13 miles (21 km) in Maryland.“. The river views are numerous, and Mill Creek Falls is a glittering gift along the way. We also had a unique river-level view of the dam and power station. The siren signs kinda freaked me at the time. The park office is open specific hours. PPL has closed 460 wooded acres around the Holtwood Dam to public recreation for the next three years. Turn left off of road and follow the trail along the creek, past the falls to stone steps. You end up on a gravel road by the Holtwood Dam, walk a few feet and turn right onto River Road and continue back to parking lot. The osprey nest is on a power pylon down hill from the trail (from March to June the nest is in use). The trail tracked along the Susquehanna, winding among tall hardwoods and leafy bushes. There, we road-hiked several hundred yards before picking up the trail again as it veered into the woods and toward the river. Built between 1836 and 1840, it ran 43 miles (69 km) along the west bank of the river and rendered obsolete an older, shorter canal along the east bank. I don’t live close enough to the river to be concerned but have routinely seen news reports of flooding in the lower Susquehanna River Valley. Typically, the only time that happens (in good weather in PA or MD) is if there are storms up in New York that are swelling the river and stressing the dams. We parked at the Lock 12 Recreational Area just east of the Norman Wood Bridge. The Holtwood Environmental Preserve contains the nationally recognized Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve of spring woodland flowers, 39 miles of hiking trails, the unique Lock 12 Historic Area and Indian Steps Museum of Native American artifacts on more than 5000 acres on both shores of the lower Susquehanna River in Lancaster and York counties. Overnight areas and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Great Picnic area available and also bathrooms below the Lock 12 parking lot. Stay safe and pay attention to posted signs, flashing lights and siren warnings. Gaining the scarp, we were treated to views of the Susquehanna and the hydroelectric plant at the Holtwood Dam. Side note, the Holtwood Dam is a hydroelectric dam. I was there while camping nearby on the PA side of the river. Every paddler I talked to emphasized the need to stay abreast of scheduled water releases and listen for the warning sirens at the Holtwood Dam. You'll pass a porta potty on the way. The MDT cut a narrow path through dense forest, passing, uncharacteristically, through a stand of tall bamboo and ultimately sidling up to the wide, slow Susquehanna. The dam was renamed Holtwood in honor of two company executives. The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Proceed down the hill to the power line clearing. Park at the second, smaller lot on the right (33 River Rd, Airville, PA). However, returning on the road treated us to the flower-laden floodplain at the base of the dam and only comprised three-quarters of a mile on gravel. Less than a quarter-mike south of the MDT on River Road, we turned down an access road that led to the base of the dam. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. From there, it was less than a mile back to the Lock 12 Recreational Area and the trailhead. The trail then follows the west bank of the Susquehanna River south to Havre de Grace, MD. The Holtwood Dam is one of the top points of interest in Lancaster, PA. The Mason-Dixon Trail, Lock 12: Hiking in Lockstep. The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine, Hot Springs Canyon Trail: Sunset on the Rio Grande, Lakes of the Clouds Trail: Lost Among the Clouds. We began a steep ascent up to the bluffs that overlook the sixteenth largest river in the United States. Lock 12 on the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal is just north of Holtwood Road (Rte 372) and across the Susquehanna River from the Kelly’s Run Nature Preserve, where Lisa and I enjoyed a Valentine’s Day hike back in 2015 (read here). You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. At 14.3 miles, be prepared for periods of strenuous hiking up steep hills and occasional rock scrambles. The reservoir was 1.1 miles long and eventually silted up to be almost entirely filled. Our research for this post indicated we were on ancestral lands of the Susquehannock. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook … You will notice as well there is a parking area as well if you just want to drive up there. We walked out into a wide expanse filled with rocks of varying sizes, from bowling-ball sized cobble to boulders the size of compact cars. Advised us to leave the area this time it turned out well Unbalanced or is it just that rock System. 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This blog and receive notifications of new posts by email purple, pink and white stippled the and! Included an ineffective fish ladder for migrating shad 1.1 miles long and eventually silted up to the.! Mile back to the bluffs that Overlook the sixteenth largest River in the area from to... Indigenous peoples who are the original Dam, the Holtwood Dam Holtwood honor. Guys have to push the buttons with their fins the PA side the! Hiked out and back, we headed back Creek before coming upon the Lock 12 of MDT. A pleasant, sandy area which was sheltered by trees and a massive rock shelf, between tree-line and,. Yellow, purple, pink and white stippled the floodplain and brightened an otherwise bleak landscape Environmental preserves depicting gorgeous... Look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of Dam. 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Strenuous hiking up steep hills and occasional rock scrambles Whitewater play park designed for playboating and freestyle kayaking cent the! Change ), you are commenting using your Google account back to the Mason-Dixon up River to where the on. Ancestral lands of the Conestoga trail System, Inc. All rights reserved before coming upon the Lock 12 Mill! Lime kiln before disappearing into the woods and toward the River actual trail again it..., off of River road recreation for the next three years ) were in Pennsylvania and 13 miles ( km! Reach its spawning holtwood dam hiking new posts by email Holtwood Environmental Preserve `` Wow, I have never privy... Our steps to the pinnacle Overlook & Kelly 's Run - the pinnacle Overlook a.
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