Old ore holes with scattered rocks containing soapstone may be found here, along with charcoal tables. John S. Alexander donated the land for this preserve in 1984.
Gently sloping, relatively open 52.4 acre third-growth woods. Huge boulders cover the lower end, creating picturesque vistas, microclimates for plants, and animal refuges. A well-worn cobbly path strewn with emerging trout lilies in early spring leads directly into the woods from the parking lot. Once in the woods, the trail splits, creating a figure eight looping out to the newer trail.
Bell’s Run is a tributary of Octoraro Creek, feeding into the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. A cool, clear, fast-running brook, its overgrown banks anchor the soil against erosion. The stream contains black-nose dace, a minnow which is an indicator of good water quality.
Boyer Nature Preserve includes 9.6 acres along an important wildlife corridor and is relatively undisturbed, wooded and overgrown with thickets. The trail on this preserve can become impassable in summer due to the dense foliage of multiflora rose. Even in winter and early spring, the steepness of the hillside makes walking challenging.
Since 1972, Ferncliff has been recognized as a National Natural Landmark, because of the old growth forest that has been maintained here. This preserve’s hillsides offer some of the best examples of River Hills timberland. Tulip trees, beeches, hemlocks, sweet birches, red, chesnut, and white oak, sycamore, sugar and red maple, ironwood, and the glory of Pennsylvania woods, the redbud. In the fall many groves of pawpaw yield succulent, edible fruit. You will also see rhododendron and mountain laurel in abundance.
Hostas, mock oranges, and huge colonies of daylilies are testimony to former habitation in the valley. A nearby farm was a station on the underground railway, and ruins of a school built by African-Americans can still be seen. The Historical Atlas of Lancaster County notes an African School House located where Fern Creek Road joins Fishing Creek Road. J.W.W. Loose has uncovered evidence of a number of mills along Fishing Creek, most notably Long’s sickle and scythe mills, which in 1825 produced tools so superior they drove English products off the market. Local residents anchored boats at the small marina at the mouth of Fishing Creek. First parcel donated by John and Sally Gibson in 1995.
Fishing Creek North has two hiking trails. The first one starts at the parking area and follows the stream north along the main branch. The second trail starts across the street from the parking area and loops along a rocky ridge which provides a scenic vista of the stream and surrounding area. By walking along Scalpy Hollow Road the trail forms a loop back to the parking area.
Greider’s Run Nature Preserve was reclaimed from a trash-filled hillside and was planted with a few fir trees, dogwoods, and white oaks, but otherwise, with the exception of occasional selective mowing each spring, was allowed to return to a natural state. Fragrant but invasive Japanese honeysuckle creates a challenge for the recovery of native plants.
This riverfront preserve, entirely along the Conestoga River floodplain, can be accessed by canoe, or on foot from Conestoga Gardens City Park.
Homewood Nature Preserve includes early successional and mature forest areas. A section of Eshleman Run meanders through the wooded eastern edge of the preserve among mature beech, maple, and oak. Homewood offers a mix of forest and field, gentle rolling hills, cultivated and grassy fields, an old barn, and a woodland valley overlooking Eshleman Run.
Kelly’s Run Pinnacle Nature Preserve has mostly steep climbing from about 400 to 700 feet elevation, but there is a well-used equestrian path, and deer trails. The route along the stream is fairly level.
The westernmost part of the tract, with a small tributary to Kelly’s Run, has a cobblestone trail which allows easy access to this beautiful spot.
History In 1986 the Conservancy acquired a 14.8 acre property from John F, Pyfer, Jr. and his wife, Carol T. Pyfer who designated the lands as the “Pyfer Nature Preserve” in honor of John’s parents, John F. and Myrtle G.…
From western trailhead is a well-marked trail. Walk north, wade across Kettle Run. Continue north to a trail connecting to Horseshoe Trail to create a loop.
From eastern trailhead, walk west from parking area uphill along Horseshoe trail past Conservancy sign at northeast corner of preserve to mountain top. Left on blue-blazed trail downhill to left turn at bottom to follow Kettle Run, then left again uphill back to Horseshoe Trail at Conservancy sign.
At Ray’s Woods Nature Preserve, there are several logging roads, grown up in brambles, tall grasses, and ferns. A well-marked trail circumscribes the area.
The original main access road slopes gently downward for about 300 yards. It is grown up in St. Johnswort, pokeweed, ridge-run daisy, grapes, heal-all, boneset, wild carrot, and tree seedlings. This preserve is t-shaped and the left portion continues downward almost to the east branch of Trout Run at 700 feet elevation. The right extension climbs to about 900 feet.
Reed Run Nature Preserve’s loop trail begins at the parking lot on House Rock Road and circles the property. This trail connects with the Conestoga Trail near the Susquehanna River. A short walk north on the Conestoga Trail leads to the House Rock overlook and a magnificent vista of the unspoiled lower river gorge.
A trail loops through Rock Springs Nature Preserve, but take care around the old water-filled chromite mine pits. Once on the bed of an ancient saltwater sea, geologic forces turned bedrock into a waxy greenish stone called serpentine, useless for crops or pasture. Some small-scale mining exploration for chromite, talc, and stone took place on the property before it was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in the 1990s.
There are many deer trails at Steinman Run Nature Preserve, but follow the narrow, less-steep blue-blazed trail to prevent erosion. This trail ascends gradually from a 520′ elevation to a 740′ elevation among huge trees whose dense shade limits the understory.
Texter Mountain is a beautiful 122 acre nature preserve located in West Cocalico Township.
This beautiful and heavily wooded ravine is well-known to nature-lovers and biologists. Clear water tumbles along a fairly steep gradient forming riffles and pools, with a glade and boggy area near an old railroad tunnel at the north end. The 198 acre preserve supports a hemlock grove lush with ferns and foliage.
This is perhaps the most pristine and scenic of the seven ravines which open into the Susquehanna River in this area. A rhododendron and hemlock canopied trail follows Tucquan Creek from River Road to the Susquehanna River. The initial two-thirds of this glen is beautiful and peaceful; the lower glen is wild and rugged.
History In 1986 the Conservancy acquired a 14.8 acre property from John F, Pyfer, Jr. and his wife, Carol T. Pyfer who designated the lands as the “Pyfer Nature Preserve” in honor of John’s…
Susquehannock Indians lived in the vicinity of the trail, and climbed and hunted along it. Established in 1990, the trail was extended several times before reaching its present-day length.
There are no established trails at this preserve. In summer, the only practical route is to walk in the stream. The large parking lot here serves well as a trailhead for hikes to the Rannels Kettle Run Nature Preserve, and on the Horseshoe Trail and Conestoga Trail.
Windolph Landing Nature Preserve is accessible from the parking lot at the end of Second Lock Road. The entire property is located on a 65 degree slope, making walking difficult. A stout walking stick and sturdy shoes are absolute requirements.
Wissler Run includes 18 acres of easy walking. From the parking lot, walk a short distance on River Road to gate into Fisherman’s Park Road. Walk into the first gravel road at left. Continue past the gas relay station, south and east along the woods to a horse trail. Follow this trail. The Conservancy property begins near a metal rod to the left of the trail. Walking time from the parking lot is about twenty minutes.