Get Out and Take a Hike!

This week’s blog was written by John B., a Brookies alumni. John is a senior in high school. He found out about the academy from his Chinese teacher who thought that he would enjoy it. John figured he would enjoy the camp because he enjoyed a conservation camp that he attended previously. John loves spending time outdoors, and often goes fishing. His plan is to attend college next fall to pursue biology and possibly Chinese too.

Traveling into the woods on a fall day, I am greeted by many squirrels and birds foraging and the leaves of trees changing color and slowly floating to the ground. It is the best time of year for a hike. Luckily, Lancaster County provides about 40 nature preserves along with both parks and state game lands too. I will share my favorite hiking areas in Southern Lancaster County, and hopefully, if you ever find yourself in the area, you can check them out.

First up is Trout Run Nature Preserve. It features a moderate hike that consists of a dirt path that periodically changes to shist outcroppings. The trail is alongside a pristine stream that I believe to be the only Class A Brook Trout stream in Lancaster County. No far-seeing vistas here, but the scenery is still well worth it. I often will hike in Steinman Run Nature Preserve too when I visit here because the two are so close together that they share a parking lot. I would say this is the place to go if you are looking to see a lot of beautiful hardwood trees.

A wild Brook Trout from Trout Run Nature Preserve

Next on my list comes Ferncliff Wildlife and Wildflower Nature Preserve. This preserve was actually listed as a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. The high quality and rarity of its natural resources earned it this title. When I go for a hike here, exciting encounters with wildlife always make it a good time no matter what season. This is also a great preserve for the inexperienced hiker. The main path is about a mile and ends right at the shore of the Susquehanna River. For a steep climb, there is also a path off to the side that will bring you to the top of a ridge with very abundant wildflowers that bloom in the spring. I love hiking here because it is overall a beautiful forest. It is classified as old-growth with many Hemlocks and some of the biggest Tulip Trees and American Beechs I’ve ever seen!

One of the many beautiful mushrooms at Ferncliff Wildlife and Wildflower Nature Preserve

Lastly, we come to Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve. Like Ferncliff, this preserve feels very natural as it is dominated by our state tree, the Eastern Hemlock. It shows its greatness in the number of people that visit: I always see many others here even when hiking, or fishing for wild Brown Trout, at the crack of dawn. I recommend this preserve to avid hikers because it easily lends itself to an all-day hike. From the same parking lot, you can access Pyfer Nature Preserve. Also, the Conestoga Trail links up to one of Tucquan Glen’s trails that can take you to many more nature preserves. If you commit to climbing the hills of the Susquehanna Riverlands, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the river.

Icicles form on a cold morning at Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve

Lancaster County is rarely recognized for its beautiful wooded areas. I invite you to check out some of the beautiful preserves in the area as well as the unique, characteristic landscapes dominated by Amish farms. If Lancaster County is too far, take a hike in your nearby woods. Breathe the fresh air and watch the seasons change, as now is a perfect time!

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.