Best winter hikes in Lancaster County


LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — When the winter cold sets in, you may not feel particularly enthusiastic about hiking. But the lack of foliage during colder months actually creates opportunities for spectacular scenic views and clearer glimpses of historical structures along trails in Lancaster County.

Additionally, outdoor spaces are often less crowded during the winter, which means hikers have the chance to interact less with other people and more with nature.

The adventurous and prepared hiker may enjoy exploring the snowy outdoors, but spending time on the trails as the weather warms up before the trees get their leaves is also a great way to see Lancaster County in a new way.

Here are five places for fun winter hikes in Lancaster County.

1. Chickies Rock County Park and the Northwest River Trail

Chickies Rock County Park offers multiple unique opportunities for winter hikers. The Chickies Rock Overlook Trail provides an opportunity to look out across the Susquehanna River.

Or you can park at the Chickies Rock County Park Northwest River Trail lot and hike southeast down Furnace Road to connect with the Northwest River Trail, which runs below the overlook. Along the Northwest River Trail in the park, there are the remnants of furnaces and the structures that surrounded them, which are easiest to view when the foliage isn’t growing.

2. House Rock Scenic Overlook at Clark Nature Preserve

The House Rock Scenic Overlook in the Clark Nature Preserve offers a look out over the Susquehanna River. From the overlook, you can see across the river to York County. It’s a slightly challenging hike, as you have to navigate over some rocks to get to the overlook.

There’s a short hike out to the overlook that follows the Ralph H. Goodno Trail from the parking lot at the end of House Rock Road, or you can reach the overlook via the Conestoga Trail. More information about these hiking options can be found here.

3. Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve white overlook trail

Kelly Snavely, director of marketing and communications for the Lancaster Conservancy, says a sweeping scene of quintessential Lancaster farmland can be seen from the white overlook trail in Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve. This map shows the trails at the preserve, including the white overlook trail that Snavely recommends.

4. Overlook in Lancaster County Central Park

Lancaster County Central Park is located just outside of downtown Lancaster city. Lisa Sanchez, a park naturalist with the Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation, says an overlook in the park offers a nice view of the Conestoga River and Lancaster city beyond it.

For the most direct way to get to the overlook, park in the lot by pavilion 11 and walk northwest past the pavilion to an uphill trail designated by white markings on the trees. For a longer hike, there are several other trails that pass the overlook.

5. Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

If you like birds, this is the hike for you. Later in the winter between February and March, thousands of snow geese migrate through the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. The birds can be heard from the Willow Point parking lot and all along the trail from the lot to Willow Point, the most popular area for viewing the waterfowl.

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Middle Creek can get quite busy with people coming to see the snow geese, so the Pennsylvania Game Commission offers tips for visiting on its website. Other birds like tundra swans can also be found at Middle Creek along with the snow geese.



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