Benton Hollow was donated by Henry H. Huffnagle in 1996.
Planning Your Walk
There is a dirt road from Bald Eagle Road to the river which permits easy access for hikers. The locked gate at the entrance prevents vehicular traffic. The hike to the river is pleasant and comfortable. The total trail length is estimated at 1.4 miles round trip.
Because it is a wildlife sanctuary, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding are prohibited.
What to See & Do
The beautiful wooded ravine formed by Barnes Run is a direct tributary of the Susquehanna River, main freshwater source of the Chesapeake Bay.
Since 1972, Ferncliff has been recognized as a National Natural Landmark, because of the old growth forest that has been maintained here. There are wildflowers galore in spring, including three unusual ones, round-leaved stemless violet (Viola rotundifolia), putty root (Aplectrum hyamale), and cranefly orchis (Tipularia discolor). The latter two are orchids, not beautiful, but different, sending up a solitary oval leaf in the fall, and a flower the following spring.
But it is the trees of Ferncliff that make it so special. 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.
Birds are abundant, including bald eagles, which may be seen soaring overhead from their nearby nesting and hunting grounds along the river.
Summer: Rhododendron and mountain laurel
From Lancaster, follow PA 272 south through Willow Street to the Buck. Continue three miles, then turn right on Chesnut Level Road at Valley View Restaurant. Continue on Chestnut Level Road to River Road. Left on River Road, first right on Slate Hill Road, right on Harmony Ridge Road, across Furniss Road, to left on Bald Eagle Road. This road leads down a hill; Ferncliff Preserve is at the bottom of the hill on the right.