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. This section of the Conestoga Trail System runs from Holtwood to Pequea, PA. 2 reviews of PPL Holtwood Environmental Preserve "Wow, I visited here yesterday with a Meetup hiking group. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Road hiking is not a favorite of mine, but this time it turned out well. 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. Of its total length, 30 miles (48 km) were in Pennsylvania and 13 miles (21 km) in Maryland.“. Great Picnic area available and also bathrooms below the Lock 12 parking lot. And the Conowingo Dam downriver can drain river levels. 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. The Lock 12 section of the Mason-Dixon Trail is delightfully scenic and full of historical interest. https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/pennsylvania/holtwood-recreation-park 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. This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. The osprey nest is on a power pylon down hill from the trail (from March to June the nest is in use). 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. You will notice as well there is a parking area as well if you just want to drive up there. PPL Electric has done a nice job over the years maintaining environmental preserves depicting the gorgeous scenery of Lancaster County. The beautiful Susquehanna River just a few minutes’ walk from the remains of Lock 12. The Mason-Dixon Trail, Lock 12: Hiking in Lockstep. As we approached the riverbank, we passed through a pleasant, sandy area which was sheltered by trees and a massive rock shelf. In all my years of hiking near the Susquehanna River, I have never been privy to the sound of high-water sirens. Return to the parking lot by walking down river (south) on the road. Thanks for your comment, Ned. 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. 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. 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. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. Gifford Pinchot State Park: Am I Unbalanced or Is It Just That Rock? Gear Shakedown hike. The trail pathway features some stone paths, with a good length of natural surface throughout the hike. Lock 12 was completely dry, so we climbed down into the channel to look around. With that in mind, we chose to return to Mill Creek via the road. 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). Holtwood Dam: Lock 12 - See 33 traveller reviews, 26 candid photos, and great deals for Lancaster, PA, at Tripadvisor. It sits on a bluff nearly 400 feet above the river and offers excellent views north along the … You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. I wasn’t even aware that there were sirens! 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. “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. This section includes about a mile of hiking on railroad tracks. The siren signs kinda freaked me at the time. 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. The trail on the climb over the bluff had been narrow, often without opportunity to step aside and allow other hikers COVID-safe passage. I was there while camping nearby on the PA side of the river. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Park at the second, smaller lot on the right (33 River Rd, Airville, PA). Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. ( Log Out / The original dam, built between 1905 and 1910, included an ineffective fish ladder for migrating shad. Down river, in the distance, was the Norman Wood Bridge. 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. 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. The Holtwood Dam is one of the top points of interest in Lancaster, PA. PPL has closed 460 wooded acres around the Holtwood Dam to public recreation for the next three years. 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. There, we road-hiked several hundred yards before picking up the trail again as it veered into the woods and toward the river. From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. Eventually, we followed the orange trail markers to the pinnacle. This time, Lisa joined me. This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Will be returning for sure! Today, the shad get an elevator ride up and over the dam. 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. The blue blazes of the MDT eventually guided us north and away from Mill Creek. You'll pass a porta potty on the way. Of the remaining locks on this defunct canal, 12 is one of the most well-preserved. Please access the website using one of the following supported browsers: The reservoir was 1.1 miles long and eventually silted up to be almost entirely filled. What to do with such a pleasant day? ( Log Out / Overnight areas and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Stay safe and pay attention to posted signs, flashing lights and siren warnings. There were several stream crossings since our leader took us off the beaten path a few times. Follow the Mason-Dixon up river to where the trail crosses the creek by using River Rd bridge. Canal locks are a system by which boats are raised or lowered over stretches of varied terrain on a canal or other waterway. That was about ten years ago, and It’s been on my list to explore further ever since. Copyright © 2020 The Mason-Dixon Trail System, Inc. All rights reserved. I think you know. The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. From the bluff, the Mason-Dixon Trail immediately commenced a descent and eventually intersected River Road. Entering the copse, we crossed a picturesque bridge over Anderson Creek before coming upon the lock. There’s a lot of great trails along the Susquehanna – one gem is Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, MD. 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. About 30 per cent of the "trail" is a route marked along public roads; the remainder is actual trail. Standing on the rock-strewn bank, we gazed across the river to Lancaster County, a half-mile (as the boat floats) away. The dam was renamed Holtwood in honor of two company executives. This place was fantastic. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. A spur followed the creek down to the banks of the river, and we took some time to explore. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours. 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. Martic Township does not own, operate or maintain this area! 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. 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. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. The Holtwood Whitewater Park is a whitewater play park designed for playboating and freestyle kayaking. 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 then follows the west bank of the Susquehanna River south to Havre de Grace, MD. 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. Three-quarters of a mile into our trek, we came to Mill Creek. (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. Being below Holtwood Dam, the river here is very shallow with many small pools full of minnows and crayfish. To find Holtwood Dam enter the 39.826771 latitude, and -76.336624 longitude coordinates into your GPS device or smart phone. 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. Muddy Creek Access is part of the 53-mile Susquehanna River Water Trail-Lower Section, managed by Susquehanna Heritage. Holtwood Dam and Hydroelectric Plant From the bluff, the Mason-Dixon Trail immediately commenced a descent and eventually intersected River Road. Beyond, between tree-line and water, lay a wildflower-laden sward . 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). Holtwood Dam. The Mason-Dixon Trail crosses the lock (blue blazes). Gaining the scarp, we were treated to views of the Susquehanna and the hydroelectric plant at the Holtwood Dam. 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. Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook … Twenty-inch flashboards were used to secure the pondage and head. 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. 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. After enjoying some startlingly unspoiled views of Pennsylvania’s lower Susquehanna, we headed back. Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run - The Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run are located in Holtwood, off of River Road. A concrete walkway led away from the parking lot and past the remnants of an old lime kiln before disappearing into the woods. 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. Like my Fair Hill hike the previous day (read here), the high for this atypical summer Friday was in the low eighties. Muddy Creek Access Water trail access. Yellow, purple, pink and white stippled the floodplain and brightened an otherwise bleak landscape. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. 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. ( Log Out / 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. It was another strangely mild August day in the mid-Atlantic. Our research for this post indicated we were on ancestral lands of the Susquehannock. We passed several large signs that warned of quickly rising water and advised us to leave the area immediately if sirens sounded. We parked at the Lock 12 Recreational Area just east of the Norman Wood Bridge. As I said, I’ve never even heard these sirens in many years of hiking in the area. After enjoying the views of the river, we retraced our steps to the Mason-Dixon Trail and headed west up Mill Creek. Continuing on, we discovered many more tiny falls as the creek gamboled on its way to to join the Susquehanna. The Pinnacle Overlook is a beautiful, short hike to a view of the Susquehanna River. Continuing south on River Road, we rejoined the Mason-Dixon Trail at Mill Creek. 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. The park office is open specific hours. The creek bubbled and spat as it tumbled over tiny falls on its way to the Susquehanna. Day use areas close at dusk. 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. Another thing that will take your breath away is the series of hiking trails around the dam. Interspersed among the rocks were tall grasses and wildflowers. Side note, the Holtwood Dam is a hydroelectric dam. The hiking trails are great and the scenery is beyond beautiful! Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The river views are numerous, and Mill Creek Falls is a glittering gift along the way. 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… Had we simply hiked out and back, we would have netted six miles and nearly a thousand feet of elevation. Enjoy boating from the Pequea Marina, above the Holtwood Dam and south of Safe Harbor Dam. We didn’t have to cover already-hiked trail and we gained an opportunity to explore the Holtwood Dam floodplain. Almost ninety years later, a motorized fish lift was installed to help the declining American shad population reach its spawning grounds. Right around the one-mile mark you'll come to Mill Creek. 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. 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.