5 of the Best Susquehanna Greenway Hikes
By Alana JajkoWith warm weather on the way, now is a perfect time to grab a friend and enjoy the beauty of the Susquehanna Greenway. These trails showcase scenic ridges, verdant valleys, wooded hills and the tranquility of the Susquehanna River.
The concept of a greenway, a corridor of undeveloped land often located near an urban area, is relatively new to Central Pennsylvania. These ribbons of greenspace, recognized nationally and internationally for their ability to connect people and places, include parks, trails, gardens, historic sites and natural features.
Greenways are sometimes located along man-made structures like an old railroad bed or a utility corridor, or they can trace a natural feature such as a ridgeline, stream, or in our case, the Susquehanna River. Here are five ways to experience our greenway.
1. Explore the North Branch
J. Manley Robbins Trail
- County: Montour
- Length: 3.8 Miles
- Trail Access Points: Hess Recreation Area, Danville
- Trail Surface: Dirt, Grass, Gravel
- Activities: Running, Hiking, Biking, Dog Walking
- Difficulty: Easy
2. Explore the West Branch
Dale’s Ridge Trail
- County: Union
- Length: 2.3 Miles (loop)
- Trail Access Points: Dale-Engle-Walker Farmstead, Lewisburg
- Trail Surface: Natural Surface, Rock
- Activities: Walking, Hiking, Birdwatching, Fishing
- Difficulty: Moderate
3. Explore the Middle Susquehanna
Fort Hunter Park Trail
- County: Dauphin
- Area: 40 Acres
- Collective Trail Length: 2.6 Miles
- Trail Access Points: Fort Hunter Mansion & Park, Harrisburg
- Trail Surface: Paved
- Activities: Walking, Hiking, Birdwatching, Historic Tours, Playground, Dog-walking
- Difficulty: Easy
By summer 2020, visitors to the Harrisburg area will also have the ability to walk/bike between Fort Hunter Park and Wildwood Park (on the outskirts of Harrisburg). The latest expansion to the Capital Area Greenbelt will connect these two parks in Harrisburg. The expected completion date for this latest connection is May 2020.
4. Explore the Lower Susquehanna
Trails of Susquehannock State Park
- County: Lancaster
- Area: 224 Acres
- Collective Trail Length: Over 5 Miles
- Trail Access Points: Park Road, Lancaster
- Trail Surface: Natural Surface
- Activities: Walking, Hiking, Picnicking, Horseback Riding
- Difficulty: Varies
5. The North Branch Canal Trail is under construction in Columbia and Montour counties. The trail embodies the ideals and benefits a greenway can provide. The vision for the canal trail is to connect communities along a greenway trail that uses and celebrates the canal-era heritage and infrastructure that still exists.
Beyond recreation, building the trail will help stabilize, preserve and restore historically significant canal structures that will allow current and future generations to learn about and connect to the region’s past.
The trail corridor runs for 12 miles between Danville and Bloomsburg via Catawissa along the North Branch of the Susquehanna River between towns, floodplains and wetlands. It abuts the steep slopes of a modest ridge that have protected the area from significant development. Much of the canal and towpath corridor is owned by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority. A total of 3.9 miles of the trail, constructed as a mowed-grass surface, semi-natural trail, are open in Mahoning and Cooper Townships, Montour County.
For more information, visit SusquehannaGreenway.org.
For information about specific Susquehannock State Park trails, visit SusquehannaLife.com/WebExtras.
Alana Jajko is the communications director of the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership.