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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Nature’s Invitation

The Great Outdoors Is Still Open For Visitors

by Gisele Rinaldi Siebold 

Social distancing during a pandemic is challenging—except when it’s not. We are fortunate to live in an area abounding in natural places and bountiful resources for rich enjoyment and appreciation of that which has always been good and will always be there when we need it. 

Adhere to the latest CDC guidelines when out in public and practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the health and beauty of the delicate ecology. This includes disposing of waste properly, letting nature’s sounds prevail by avoiding loud voices or music and leaving rocks, plants and other natural objects as we found them. 

“Nature is essential to our quality of life,” believes Tami Shimp, Berks Nature vice president of development and community relations. “Explore. Enjoy. Right at home. Before you hit the trail, make sure you check the individual park or trail system for up-to-date maps, rules and regulations.” 

Berks County

The 1-mile Angelica Creek Trail connects to Kenhorst Borough, Angelica Creek Park and the Schuylkill River Trail and is a pathway to the city-owned, 90-acre Angelica Creek Park, educational wetlands. Due to construction, Angelica Creek Trail extension and Thun Trail is closed from Brentwood Drive to the rear gate of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. 

Antietam Lake is surrounded by 665 acres of park land and provides a beautiful, serene setting for nature-basedecreation.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a marked hiking trail in the Eastern U.S. extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. 

Blue Marsh Trail is a 23.7-mile moderately-trafficked loop trail located near Leesport that features a lake and is rated as difficult; dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Earl Poole Sanctuary is a more-than-30-acre Berks Nature-owned property perfect for quiet nature walks. 

The 2.3-mile long, straight Exeter Scenic River Trail is good for hiking, mountain biking or walking and offers a view of the Schuylkill River.

French Creek State Park is 7,730 acres with 35 miles of trails for hiking, running and mountain biking.

The Gravity Trail connects the Neversink Mountain Preserve to the county-owned Antietam Lake Park. Hikes on Neversink Mountain provide breathtaking vistas; most popular are the City Overlook and the Witches Hat (McIlvain Pavilion).

Green Hills Preserve is 201 acres of beautiful grasslands; visitors can become immersed in nature surrounded by nothing but green on this short 1- to 3-mile trail. 

Hawk Mountain is a dedicated wild bird sanctuary with 2,600 acres. There are five trails ranging from easy to most difficult. 

Hopewell Furnace area, a national historic site, offers an easy hike overlooking Hopewell Lake and the opportunity to view original landscapes, a waterwheel, iron plantations, blacksmith shops and more. 

Horseshoe Trail is a 140-mile unique, difficult and long trail that stretches across and has access points within 5 different counties: Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon.

Mount Penn Preserve is a recreational area with trails ideal for hiking and biking; the Reading Pagoda—a beautiful historical landmark that lights up the city—is also located within the preserve.

The Muhlenberg Rail Trail is an easy and relaxing, ADA-accessible, 1.75-mile shaded pathway suitable for walking, biking or inline skating. 

Nolde Forest consists of 10 miles of trails connected through small bridges, ranging from easy walks to steep inclines, with unique wild flowers and scenic creeks throughout.

The Pinnacle, located on Blue Mountain Ridge on the Appalachian Mountains, offers one of the best views in Berks County and even Pennsylvania. 

The Schuylkill River Trail stretches for 130 miles, making it perfect for exercising, biking or even commuting. It reaches from Philadelphia, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Hamburg and Reading. 

The Union Canal Trail runs along the Tulpehocken Creek from the city of Reading up to Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport, and makes up a segment of the 71.7-mile Schuylkill River Trail in southeastern Pennsylvania. The flat, crushed-stone trail surface makes for a comfortable journey on foot, bicycle, cross-country skis or even snowshoes.

Wyomissing Creek Park is a smooth, ADA-accessible, 2.6-mile asphalt trail suitable for biking or walking. 

Lancaster County

Located between the boroughs of Columbia and Marietta, Chickies Rock County Park is the county’s second-largest regional park. The park includes Chiques Creek, Donegal Creek and selected points to the Susquehanna River, as well as numerous vistas, varied natural and geological features and rich industrial heritage. Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is a fourteen-mile, multi-use, public recreation trail adjacent to the Susquehanna River. The trail spans five municipalities, a portion of which runs through Chickies Rock County Park. 

Conestoga Greenway Trail is a 1.3-mile trail that runs along the Conestoga River. 

The 5-mile, well-graded, level Conewago Recreation Trail, formerly the Cornwall-Lebanon rail line, follows the Conewago Creek through scenic farmland and woodlands; it is appropriate for walking, hiking, running, biking and horseback riding.

Lancaster County Central Park is the largest of the county’s parks, covering 544 acres, and includes trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding that meander across fields, through woods and along creeks; some trails are ADA-accessible. 

The well-graded, ADA-accessible Lancaster Junction Recreation Trail allows for hiking, jogging, bicycling, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. It was part of the former Reading-Columbia rail line and stretches for just over two miles between the hamlet of Lancaster Junction and route 283. 

Money Rocks County Park, located near the Narvon Clay Mine, spans more than 300 acres of woodland in the Welsh Mountains of eastern Lancaster County. A network of mining and logging dirt roads makes much of this wooded park accessible to nature lovers.

Speedwell Forge County Park is located between Speedwell Forge Lake and the wooded State Game Lands of the nearby Furnace Hills, with trails through scenic woods, as well as a diversity of habitats, including upland woods, a maturing forest, a wooded wetland, cultivated fields and an overgrown, wet meadow along the Hammer Creek.

Theodore A. Parker III Natural Area is a 100-acre park with a trail that parallels Stewart Run as it tumbles over rocks and waterfalls to create one of the county’s most pristine streams.

Turkey Hill Trail is a 6-mile, moderate loop trail used for hiking and biking that connects with the 8.27-mile Enola Low Grade Rail Trail and provides views of the Susquehanna River.

More Resources with Trail Details, Locations and Outdoor Activity Suggestions