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Susquehanna Life

5 of the Best Susquehanna Greenway Hikes

Mar 13, 2020 12:19AM

By Alana Jajko

With 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
The J. Manley Robbins Trail is a short trail with a long history. Believed to be the oldest documented rail-trail in the country, this trail leads through a beautiful deciduous forest high above the Mahoning Creek. It is barely 1 mile long, but its newer connection to an old Reading Railroad line extends the trail to a 3.8-mile loop. The trail is particularly nice for jogging; dogs are welcome. 



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
Located on the 137-acre Dale-Engle-Walker property, this trail has become one of Merill W. Linn Conservancy’s best known and most popular. Taking hikers 160 feet above Buffalo Creek, the trail offers a stunning view of the Buffalo Valley. A wide variety of landscapes are seen along the trail, including the Buffalo Creek floodplain, a mature hardwoods forest, a pond and open fields. It is also a great place for bird watching and observing many types of wildflowers. An informational kiosk at the trailhead offers pamphlets with additional information corresponding to numbered signage along this trail. 






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
Located along the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County, Fort Hunter Park offers a variety of activities. Throughout history the site has served as a war fort, a hub for frontier commerce and an exclusive private estate. Now it is open to the public and preserved by the Friends of Fort Hunter. Visitors can enjoy outdoors activities, including walking by the river or on the old towpath of the Pennsylvania canal. Bird- and nature-watching can be enjoyed at several natural areas along Fishing Creek, the Susquehanna River and the old Pennsylvania canal. Put in a canoe, kayak, or small boat from the boat launch.

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
This 224-acre park in Lancaster County provides a variety of activities and an amazing view over the Lower Susquehanna River. The park is home to 11 hiking trails of varying difficulty. Totaling over 5 miles, the trails showcase a variety of flowers and trees, as well as opportunities for birdwatching. Opportunities to view osprey, vultures, hawks and bald eagles abound. Several trails lead to observation decks, 380-feet high, with panoramic views of the Susquehanna River, Conowingo Reservoir and Mount Johnson Island. 


Under Construction

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.


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