Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve


This is a recreation managed preserve

Size

approximately 85.966 acres

About

Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is a 85 acre nature preserve along the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River that is well known for its wildflowers. It is the only Conservancy property located in Conestoga Township.  The property transferred to the conservancy from PPL in 2014. The wooded ravine hosts a rich diversity of seasonal wildflowers such as Dutchmen’s breeches, trillium, Virginia bluebells, and host of seasonal wildflowers.

Planning Your Walk

The trail to the preserve begins at the kiosk near the culvert at Grubb Hollow.  The trail is approximately 1.7 miles in length and is renowned for wildflower walks and by naturalists who enjoy seeing spring ephemerals along the ravine and birding.

Printable Map

Things to See & Do

History

This preserve is surrounded by natural areas that were once used by early Native American tribes for hunting, gathering wild fruits and nuts, and farming corn, beans and squash along the rich floodplains. Due to the proximity of the Susquehanna River early Native American tribes accessed the river for fishing, fresh water, and trading opportunities until the mid-1700.The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission discovered the remains of these Native Americans near Shenks Ferry.  The remains found were from what were once known as the Shenks Ferry people who were believed to be killed by the Susquehannock tribes for new territory.  Archaeological findings date to thousands of years before Christ, while other findings date the Shenks Ferry people to have lived there in 1300 AD, before any Europeans arrived in the region.

Shenks Ferry received its name from Henry Shenks, who operated a ferry across the Susquehanna River to and from Lower Chanceford in York County in the early 1800s. By the 1940’s, most of the areas within and around Shenks Ferry were developed on or used for agriculture. Shenks Ferry finally became forested again around 1970, and has largely remained the same for the past 45 years.

Today, Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is a PA Natural Heritage Area and is home to over 100 spring wildflowers.

Watershed Facts

The stream that runs through Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is Grubb Hollow (also referred to as “Grub Run”), which flows southwest through the terrain to the Susquehanna River. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this stream is classified as a High Quality Warm Water fishery.

Fauna

American toads, eastern box turtles, deer, and fox. More than 50 species of birds have been sighted including the Eastern Wood-Pewee, Pileated Woodpecker, Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow and Black-Billed Cuckoos, Louisiana Water Thrush, Northern Parula Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Worm-Eating Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Wild Turkey, and the Eastern Phoebe.

Flora

Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is known for its diverse wildflower and native plant species. Species include eastern woodland sedge, yellow and white trout lily, trillium, white wood aster, hackberry, pawpaw, tulip poplar and around 20 varieties of ferns. This preserve is comprised of predominantly secondary growth woodland with a forested canopy comprised of sugar maples, basswood, American beech, and mixed hardwood species.

Seasonal Info

Spring: More than 100 seasonal wildflowers with spring ephemerals like hepatica, spring beauties, and trillium on display

Summer: Over 20 species of ferns and a variety of summer wildflowers

Fall: Colorful foliage of sassafras, pawpaw, sugar maple and more deciduous trees and shrubs

Winter: Allow more time when snow and ice are on the trail

Hiking Map

Hunting Information

This nature preserve is not open to hunting.

Directions

Green Hill Road, Conestoga Township

Green Hill Rd parking area coordinates (decimal degrees): 39.902012, -76.366648


Note: Green Hill Rd south of the preserve is closed. Please approach the nature preserve from the northern boundary.


From Lancaster take Route 324 (New Danville Pike) south.  When New Danville Pike becomes Main Street in Conestoga stay on for 1.5 miles and then bear left onto Route 420 (River Corner Road) at the US Post Office.  Continue 1.3 miles and then make a slight right onto Shenks Ferry road at the intersection of River Road.  Continue to the entrance of Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve on Green Hill Road.  Road can be muddy in wet/winter seasons.  Do not attempt to drive through the south side of Green Hill Road to the back side of the preserve.  Road conditions can be hazardous. Please use good judgement when visiting this preserve during extreme weather conditions.

Prevent Tick Borne Illness!
  • Wear repellent 
  • Check for ticks after your visit
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash

For more information: www.cdc.gov/lyme

Emergency Information 

In case of emergency, call 911

Nearest Hospital: Lancaster General Hospital – 12 miles

 555 N Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602

Additional Resources:

Conestoga Volunteer Fire Co., non-emergency number: (717) 584-5649

PA State Police, non-emergency number: (717) 299-7650

Hiking Map

 

 

 

 

 

    GPS:
    39.902373, -76.3929612
    Directions:
    Preserve Map
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