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Susquehanna Life

Hiking Havens: 7 Hikes for All Abilities

Mar 16, 2021 07:23PM ● By Gerry Dincher

Hiking is a great way to welcome spring and experience the health-giving properties of nature.

Beyond downtown Harrisburg, a variety of nature trails beckon in parks and wooded areas. Family hikes follow level loops and beginner trails. Experienced hikers can traverse more challenging routes with inclines that yield breathtaking views. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


1.  Boyd Big Tree Preserve - Just north of Harrisburg, this 1,025-acre conservation area offers a natural setting for passive recreation, like hiking, without too much development to alter the landscape. The preserve is a sanctuary for mature trees and an environment education study area. Its extensive 12-mile trail system ranges from easy to difficult hiking and each of the trails connects to at least one other trail.
  • Trails:  8
  • Trail Length:  0.9 - 5.3 mi.
  • Trail Type:  Primitive
  • Difficulty:  Easy to difficult
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  No
  • Elevation Gain:  334-777 feet
For more information: SusquehannaGreenway.org

 

2.  Clark's Valley - Victoria Trail - On September 3, 2020, Central Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased 404 acres of ridge and forest land along Peters Mountain in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County. The newly acquired parcel adjoins DCNR’s Joe Ibberson Conservation Area and State Gamelands #211, and it contains the Victoria Trail.  Enjoy this secluded loop with an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet. The trail is rated moderate because it contains some narrow and rocky areas.

  • Trails:  1
  • Trail Length:  5.4 mi.
  • Trail Type:  Primitive
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  No
For more information: Trails.DCNR.Pa.Gov

 

3.  Detweiler Park - Explore nearly seven miles of trails on 411 acres of Dauphin County’s largest park. The trails are moderate, with easy loops and more challenging treks. From meadows and streams to mature deciduous forests, there are a variety of ecosystems to explore.

  • Trails:  5
  • Trail Length:  0.3 - 1.6 mi.
  • Trail Type:  Primitive
  • Difficulty:  Easy to moderate
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  No
  • Elevation Gain:  561 feet
For more information: DauphinCounty.org

 

4.  Hawk Rock - A shorter hike with a scenic reward, Hawk Rock via the Appalachian Trail is a 2.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail just outside Harrisburg. Hikers will see beautiful wildflowers and share the trail with both day hikers and serious hikers traversing the length of the Appalachian Trail.

  • Trails:  2
  • Trail Length:  1.6 and 2.7 mi.
  • Trail Type:  Primitive
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  No
  • Elevation Gain:  685 feet
For more information: SusquehannaGreenway.org

 

5.  Peter's Mountain Ridge - This loop follows a section of the Appalachian Trail. Located near Halifax, Pa, the heavily-trafficked, moderate trail has an elevation gain of 1,200 feet. 

  • Trails:  1
  • Trail Length:  4.2 mi.
  • Trail Type:  Primitive
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  No
For more information: SummitPost.org/Peters-Mountain/12186

 

6.  Ned Smith Center - Near Millersburg, the Ned Smith Center for Nature & Art features approximately 10 miles of trails. The trails wind through 500 acres of mature hardwood forest and sprawling meadowlands. Some trails are also ideal for biking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. After a hike, visit the art gallery featuring nature-inspired works of its namesake, the late Ned Smith.

  • Trails:  18
  • Trail Length: .3 - 1.5 mi. (10 mi. total)
  • Trail Type:  Primitive and paved
  • Difficulty:  Easy to difficult
  • ADA Accessible Trails:  Yes
  • Elevation Gain:  688 feet
For more information: NedSmithCenter.org

 

7.  Wildwood Park - Wildwood Park is a draw for nature and wildlife lovers looking for a serene stroll. It’s just minutes from downtown Harrisburg, but tucked discretely away from the city’s quicker pace. On a beautiful morning, you’ll encounter joggers, cyclists, walkers, nature photographers and lots of dogs getting their exercise!

  • Trails: 8
  • Trail Length:  3.1 mi. total loop
  •  Trail Type:  Paved, stone, boardwalk, primitive     
  •  Difficulty:  Easy
  •  ADA Accessible Trails:  Yes
  •  Elevation Gain:  144 feet
For more information: WildwoodLake.org/Lake-Santuary/map.aspx 

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