The blue blazes of the MDT eventually guided us north and away from Mill Creek. 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. The reservoir was 1.1 miles long and eventually silted up to be almost entirely filled. 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. Climb the steps and hill to a great view. Gifford Pinchot State Park: Am I Unbalanced or Is It Just That Rock? From there, it was less than a mile back to the Lock 12 Recreational Area and the trailhead. 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. Twenty-inch flashboards were used to secure the pondage and head. Enjoy boating from the Pequea Marina, above the Holtwood Dam and south of Safe Harbor Dam. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. If you need fishing tackle, or are looking for a fishing guide or fishing charter please visit Tackle, Guides, Charters Muddy Creek Access is part of the 53-mile Susquehanna River Water Trail-Lower Section, managed by Susquehanna Heritage. BIT|Hiker acknowledges the indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of the lands on which we hike. It was another strangely mild August day in the mid-Atlantic. Beyond, between tree-line and water, lay a wildflower-laden sward . Follow the Mason-Dixon up river to where the trail crosses the creek by using River Rd bridge. 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. About 30 per cent of the "trail" is a route marked along public roads; the remainder is actual trail. Down river, in the distance, was the Norman Wood Bridge. Hike downhill (towards the river) to Lock 12. The hiking trails are great and the scenery is beyond beautiful! In all my years of hiking near the Susquehanna River, I have never been privy to the sound of high-water sirens. The Lost Mine Trail: We Found Hiking Gold, but No Mine, Hot Springs Canyon Trail: Sunset on the Rio Grande, Lakes of the Clouds Trail: Lost Among the Clouds. Eventually, we followed the orange trail markers to the pinnacle. Side note, the Holtwood Dam is a hydroelectric dam. We had traipsed three miles; six miles total seemed just right for that August afternoon. The 2,392 foot long, 55 foot high Holtwood Dam and associated plant generate 252 megawatts of hydroelectric power by way of 14 turbines. ( Log Out /  You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. Change ). 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. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. This section includes about a mile of hiking on railroad tracks. 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 you know. ( Log Out /  Like my Fair Hill hike the previous day (read here), the high for this atypical summer Friday was in the low eighties. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours. The trail then follows the west bank of the Susquehanna River south to Havre de Grace, MD. From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. 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. Holtwood Dam: Lock 12 - See 33 traveller reviews, 26 candid photos, and great deals for Lancaster, PA, at Tripadvisor. Muddy Creek Access Water trail access. 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. Overnight areas and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. 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. And the Conowingo Dam downriver can drain river levels. (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. Lock 12/Osprey Nest to Holtwood Dam, PA 2.3 mile loop with moderate climbing Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. 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. With that in mind, we chose to return to Mill Creek via the road. Of the remaining locks on this defunct canal, 12 is one of the most well-preserved. I wasn’t even aware that there were sirens! What to do with such a pleasant day? After enjoying the views of the river, we retraced our steps to the Mason-Dixon Trail and headed west up Mill Creek. The Mason-Dixon Trail, Lock 12: Hiking in Lockstep. Return to the parking lot by walking down river (south) on the road. We walked out into a wide expanse filled with rocks of varying sizes, from bowling-ball sized cobble to boulders the size of compact cars. The Mason-Dixon Trail crosses the lock (blue blazes). Great Picnic area available and also bathrooms below the Lock 12 parking lot. 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… The dam was a rock-filled timber crib structure backed with earth on the upstream side to a slope. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook of the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam. 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 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. 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. This section of the Conestoga Trail System runs from Holtwood to Pequea, PA. This time, Lisa joined me. ( Log Out /  That was about ten years ago, and It’s been on my list to explore further ever since. Holtwood Dam. 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. We apologize, this browser is not currently supported by the site. 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 Pinnacle Overlook is a beautiful, short hike to a view of the Susquehanna River. You will notice as well there is a parking area as well if you just want to drive up there. Holtwood Dam (also Holtwood Hydroelectric Dam, Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant, McCalls Ferry 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 (PW&P) Company. “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. Continuing on, we discovered many more tiny falls as the creek gamboled on its way to to join the Susquehanna. PPL has closed 460 wooded acres around the Holtwood Dam to public recreation for the next three years. As we approached the riverbank, we passed through a pleasant, sandy area which was sheltered by trees and a massive rock shelf. Today, the shad get an elevator ride up and over the dam. Park at the second, smaller lot on the right (33 River Rd, Airville, PA). The Holtwood Whitewater Park is a whitewater play park designed for playboating and freestyle kayaking. 2.3 mile loop with moderate climbing From the intersection of PA Routes 74 and 372, drive 2.2 mi east on PA 372. 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. There were several stream crossings since our leader took us off the beaten path a few times. We also had a unique river-level view of the dam and power station. I think they are primarily to warn people should the dam decide to unexpectedly open its floodgates. The Lock 12 section of the Mason-Dixon Trail is delightfully scenic and full of historical interest. I was unable to determine if there is an operator or if the little guys have to push the buttons with their fins. 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. Three-quarters of a mile into our trek, we came to Mill Creek. The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/pennsylvania/holtwood-recreation-park This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. The beautiful Susquehanna River just a few minutes’ walk from the remains of Lock 12. Canal locks are a system by which boats are raised or lowered over stretches of varied terrain on a canal or other waterway. 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. 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, we road-hiked several hundred yards before picking up the trail again as it veered into the woods and toward the river. 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. Turn left off of road and follow the trail along the creek, past the falls to stone steps. As I said, I’ve never even heard these sirens in many years of hiking in the area. 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. 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. The siren signs kinda freaked me at the time. After enjoying some startlingly unspoiled views of Pennsylvania’s lower Susquehanna, we headed back. Another thing that will take your breath away is the series of hiking trails around the dam. 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. Had we simply hiked out and back, we would have netted six miles and nearly a thousand feet of elevation. Our research for this post indicated we were on ancestral lands of the Susquehannock. You'll get views of Mill Creek Falls, Overlook … Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. The trail tracked along the Susquehanna, winding among tall hardwoods and leafy bushes. Please access the website using one of the following supported browsers: 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. I had my young son with me so we didn’t go too far, but did explore the ruins and early pieces of the trail. Stay safe and pay attention to posted signs, flashing lights and siren warnings. Gear Shakedown hike. Vance's first hike with a full backpack in decades, in preparation for a three or four day winter hike in the Shenandoahs. After watching the osprey, proceed down the trail to the road and Holtwood Dam. The Holtwood Dam Park will soon join the ranks of these manmade thrills, and East coast boaters are eager to see how it measures up. Lock 12 was completely dry, so we climbed down into the channel to look around. Yellow, purple, pink and white stippled the floodplain and brightened an otherwise bleak landscape. Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run - The Pinnacle Overlook & Kelly's Run are located in Holtwood, off of River Road. Just before the Norman Woods Bridge turn left onto River Rd. ♦, Date: August 21, 2020Location: Lower Chanceford Township, PATrailhead: 39.813418, -76.329029Distance: 4.8 milesElevation Gain: 495 feetDifficulty: Moderate. A concrete walkway led away from the parking lot and past the remnants of an old lime kiln before disappearing into the woods. 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. As we reentered the woods, we noticed the less well-preserved ruins of Lock 11 – overgrown and moss-covered in the brush that flanked the trail. 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. Right around the one-mile mark you'll come to Mill Creek. 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. 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). We didn’t have to cover already-hiked trail and we gained an opportunity to explore the Holtwood Dam floodplain. Continuing south on River Road, we rejoined the Mason-Dixon Trail at Mill Creek. This scenic area is definitely worth checking out for its semi-natural beauty. We began a steep ascent up to the bluffs that overlook the sixteenth largest river in the United States. Day use areas close at dusk. 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. There, we road-hiked several hundred yards before picking up the trail again as it veered into the woods and toward the river. The Holtwood Dam is one of the top points of interest in Lancaster, PA. Will be returning for sure! The creek bubbled and spat as it tumbled over tiny falls on its way to the Susquehanna. Holtwood Dam and Hydroelectric Plant From the bluff, the Mason-Dixon Trail immediately commenced a descent and eventually intersected River Road. ( Log Out /  The river views are numerous, and Mill Creek Falls is a glittering gift along the way. The trail on the climb over the bluff had been narrow, often without opportunity to step aside and allow other hikers COVID-safe passage. Park at the second, smaller lot on the right (33 River Rd, Airville, PA). You'll pass a porta potty on the way. 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. This place was fantastic. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Road hiking is not a favorite of mine, but this time it turned out well. A spur followed the creek down to the banks of the river, and we took some time to explore. Interspersed among the rocks were tall grasses and wildflowers. This was a wonderful, peaceful hike. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The park office is open specific hours. We passed several large signs that warned of quickly rising water and advised us to leave the area immediately if sirens sounded. Gaining the scarp, we were treated to views of the Susquehanna and the hydroelectric plant at the Holtwood Dam. It sits on a bluff nearly 400 feet above the river and offers excellent views north along the … The trail pathway features some stone paths, with a good length of natural surface throughout the hike. Being below Holtwood Dam, the river here is very shallow with many small pools full of minnows and crayfish. Proceed down the hill to the power line clearing. Thanks for your comment, Ned. Copyright © 2020 The Mason-Dixon Trail System, Inc. All rights reserved. The dam was renamed Holtwood in honor of two company executives. Martic Township does not own, operate or maintain this area! 2 reviews of PPL Holtwood Environmental Preserve "Wow, I visited here yesterday with a Meetup hiking group. We parked at the Lock 12 Recreational Area just east of the Norman Wood Bridge. 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). Standing on the rock-strewn bank, we gazed across the river to Lancaster County, a half-mile (as the boat floats) away. The area of Holtwood Dam, Lock 12 and Mill Creek Falls is fantastic! You'll pass a porta potty on the way. I was there while camping nearby on the PA side of the river. To find Holtwood Dam enter the 39.826771 latitude, and -76.336624 longitude coordinates into your GPS device or smart phone. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The osprey nest is on a power pylon down hill from the trail (from March to June the nest is in use). The original dam, built between 1905 and 1910, included an ineffective fish ladder for migrating shad. 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. 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. At 14.3 miles, be prepared for periods of strenuous hiking up steep hills and occasional rock scrambles. Just before the Norman Woods Bridge turn left onto River Rd. Of its total length, 30 miles (48 km) were in Pennsylvania and 13 miles (21 km) in Maryland.“. PPL Electric has done a nice job over the years maintaining environmental preserves depicting the gorgeous scenery of Lancaster County. Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal. You'll get a great look with binoculars down at an Osprey Nest which sits on top of one of the power line towers. In that February hike, we had navigated snow and ice; at Lock 12 we looked forward to a comfortable, dry hike on the Mason-Dixon Trail that would roughly follow the tow-path of the S&T Canal. There’s a lot of great trails along the Susquehanna – one gem is Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, MD. Almost ninety years later, a motorized fish lift was installed to help the declining American shad population reach its spawning grounds.