Nature Trails in the Susquehanna River Valley

Eight Locations for Short Nature Hikes Perfect for Introducing Children to the Beauty and Wonder of Nature

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Montour Preserve – Wander some of the 10 miles of trails of varying lengths at Montour Preserve. The Goose Woods Trail is a nice starter trail through trees, along a stream and past the Maple Sugaring Shack. Keep your eyes open for birds and squirrels along the way as well as turtles when you pass the environmental study pond. The Bluebird Trail is another short loop trail meandering through open meadows. Bluebirds are cavity nesting birds and with diminished habitat bluebird boxes are a way to help provide protective nesting sites for these beautiful birds. Look for bluebird boxes and bluebirds along the trail. The Hummingbird Trail is a short fine gravel trail accessible to users with mobility issues and young children. Other trails in the preserve include the Chilisuagi Trail, Ridgefield Point Loop Trail, Wildlife Management Trail and two permit-only trails, the Oakwood Trail and Alder Swamp Trail. Pick up a Montour Preserve Site Map at the Kiosk located in the Nature Center parking lot. Before you go visit the Montour Preserve website to familiarize yourself with all the preserve has to offer. Be sure to check out Montour Preserve Naturalist, Jon Beam's weekly series of ‘Nature Notes’ highlighting natural items of note that individuals and families might find at Montour Preserve.
Montour Preserve is maintained by the Montour Area Recreation Commission.

  











Linn Cons.

The Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy has blazed and maintains trails through protected land areas throughout the Valley. These trails are open to the public and are especially family-friendly. The Merrill Linn Trail is a one-mile loop trail that passes vernal ponds off the Mid-State Trail in Western Union County. The popular Dale's Ridge Trail* in Lewisburg is perfect for stream-side wanderings, sunny meadow strolls and scenic ridge-top views of the Buffalo Valley. The variety of habitats from streamside (riparian) buffer, mature woodlots and open fields along the two-mile trail are perfect for finding wildflowers, observing wildlife and for birding. The Koons Trail in Mifflinburg has a trailhead on North 4th Street at the historic Hassenplug Covered Bridge. This mile-long trail along Buffalo Creek both west and east of the bridge is great for viewing spring wildflowers and for birding. A trail guide is provided at the trailhead kiosk. Find more information about these Linn Conservancy trails as well as the important work of the Merrill W. Linn Conservancy at LinnConservancy.org 

*Please note: The Dale's Ridge Trail will be closed for rifle deer season, Nov. 27-Dec. 11. It is not open for public hunting but is hunted by private individuals who have received prior permission from the property owner.











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R. B. Winter State Park Trails

You’ll find 6.3 miles of trails through R. B. Winter State Park. These trails traverse a variety of terrains and connect with other trails in the surrounding Bald Eagle State Forest. Map and trail information can be picked up from the park office. The Rapid Run Nature Trail is a wonderful trail for beginner hikers. The 1-mile trail loops through the Rapid Run Natural Area. You may feel you’ve entered a mystical, enchanted fairyland with its shady old-growth hemlock and white pine trees, vernal pools, wetlands, springs and sphagnum bogs.  While at R. B. Winter be sure to take time to visit the Butterfly and Bird Gardens. Native plants and wildflowers attract butterflies such as swallowtails, painted ladies, fritillaries and monarchs. Watch for hummingbird moths, silver spotted skippers and a lovely variety of birds. Goldfinches, chipping sparrows, juncos and ruby-throated hummingbirds are among the bird species you will see.

A Pennsylvania Recreational Guide for Raymond B. Winter State Park can be picked up at the park office or request a copy from the Visitors Bureau by calling 570-524-7234 or email [email protected].













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Other state parks in the Susquehanna River Valley that maintain nature trails and viewing gardens include Shikellamy State Park and Milton State Park. Two overlooks at Shikellamy State Park offer spectacular views from 360 feet above the confluence of the Susquehanna River’s North and West branches. A walk around the nature trails at the Shikellamy Overlook pass through different forest stages from scrub forest to mature hardwoods. Unique geologic formations can be found from the Boundary Cliff Trail eastern extension. A paved walking path with beautiful views of the Susquehanna River encircles the portion of the state park at the Shikellamy Marina. Shikellamy State Park is a wonderful place to watch wildlife, especially migrating birds and butterflies. Rest quietly on a bench and watch for wildlife at the serene butterfly garden near the park office.













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Milton State Park is located on an 82-acre island between Milton and West Milton. A paved path winds through riverine habitats on the north side of the island. The southern half remains in a wooded state for nature study and walking. Stroll to the southernmost point of the trail and see a stunning view of the Susquehanna River. These state parks offer picnic spots and day use facilities.














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Weiser State Forest
On the Roaring Creek Tract of Weiser State Forest, partially located in Northumberland County, there are 13 miles of shared use trails with 8 miles located along the creek and reservoir perfect for a leisurely outing. More strenuous footpaths traverse from ridgetop to ridgetop across the valley and were once paths used by coal miners heading to and from work in the mines. A public use map for Weiser State Forest Roaring Creek Tract is produced by DCNR, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry.













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Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art
This nature center in Millersburg was built to house the Center's collection of hundreds of original works. It also showcases works of contemporary artists from around the country. The Center's lands offer a tranquil outdoor experience on more than 500 acres of forest and meadow that stretch from the scenic Wiconisco Creek to the top of Berry’s Mountain. The land includes a mature hardwood forest alive with deer, bear, wild turkey, grouse, fox, along with hundreds of species of songbirds, insects and reptiles. Easy trails near the center are the Wilds Wildflower Trail and Smitty’s Locust Loop. Or cross the creek on a beautiful arched bridge and head out Pathway to the Wild onto the Bridge Trail. The Berry Mountain Trail Guide and Map for these and 9 miles of other trails ranging from easy to extremely difficult can be downloaded from the center’s website NedsmithCenter.org

 








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Watsontown Canal Towpath

The Watsontown Canal Towpath is a 1-mile hiking trail that runs parallel to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.  The trail runs from the southern end of Elm Street at the Canal Boat Riverfront Park to the West Milton State Bank parking area. Users who plan on biking the trail should be prepared with a mountain bike, due to the uneven surface and tree roots. The trail was originally used by horses which pulled canal boats along the canal. This path is not only a valuable historical asset but it also offers a wonderful opportunity to look for small woodland creatures (squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, turtles and butterflies are abundant and deer prints could be seen in the soft earth.) Listen and look for birds also. Their songs and calls filled the air. A short morning walk led to sightings of robins, cardinals, sparrows and a woodpecker.
Parking and Trail Access:

Public parking is available at the riverfront park next to Canal Street in Watsontown, on the east side of the river bridge. The park has a canal boat-shaped pavilion, as well as a primitive boat launch. Informational panels by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership about the trail are located next to the pavilion. The trailhead can be accessed by walking the path from the park down and under the West Brimmer Ave Bridge. The trail can also be accessed from West 5th Street and West 10th Street.

Information Courtesy of Susquehanna Greenway.  

 

Request trail information for these locations from the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau by calling 570-524-7234 or email [email protected] or stop by our visitor center weekdays between 8am and 4pm.