An explosion of color on the trees, crisp morning air and flocks of migrating birds: All herald the arrival of autumn in the Mid-Atlantic. What better way to celebrate the changing seasons than by communing with nature?
Susquehanna’s footprint (and the surrounding areas) offers some of the most picturesque hiking trails in the country; below is a sampling of opportunities for low-cost exercise and enjoyment available in your own backyard!
Cunningham Falls State Park – Frederick County
I recently spent a day hiking in this park, about a half-hour drive north of the town of Frederick. My companion and I picnicked by the lake as children swam and played, and then we spent a few hours enjoying the many trails the park offers. Most are easy to moderate hikes through wooded areas, with some beautiful scenic overlooks, and a waterfall that gives the park its name.
Swallow Falls State Park – Garrett County
Another gem of Western Maryland, this park boasts dozens of campsites and numerous hiking trails through old-growth forest. My co-worker Stephanie mentioned these trails take hikers past numerous gorgeous waterfalls, including Muddy Creek Falls, the highest in the state.
Rancocas State Park – Burlington County
This park is rustic, with no picnic area or restrooms, but it does offer hiking and cycling trails, as well as a nature center. The center hosts frequent activities and camps, many of which are geared toward young children.
Maurice River Bluffs – Cumberland County
This trail is short, flat and easy, but rewards the casual hiker with beautiful views.
Woods of Wenonah – Gloucester County
This park is described as a “U-shaped wooded area that surrounds the town of Wenonah.” It is made up of numerous short trails, and hiking the entire park totals six miles. The trails are described as rugged and can get muddy, but are not difficult to traverse. As part of the route circles Wenonah Lake, it is quite picturesque.
Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve – Lancaster County
Several of my co-workers mentioned Tucquan Glen near Holtwood, as a favorite. The preserve offers mildly challenging trails and a stunning overlook view of the Susquehanna River from the famous Pinnacle Rock formation. Nearby you can also find Kelly’s Run, which offers a more challenging terrain and additional views, as well as intersecting with the Conestoga Trail shuttle hike. Susquehannock State Park, offering a range of trail difficulties, is also nearby.
Colonel Denning State Park – Cumberland County
This park offers 18 miles of trails, including Flat Rock trail, which I am told holds romantic possibilities. A colleague of mine proposed to his wife at its scenic overlook. He’s happily married, so that’s a testament to the power of a beautiful hike. If you enjoy canoeing or kayaking, be sure to try out Col. Denning – one of its highlights is a 3.5 acre lake, open for non-motorized boating.
Ricketts Glen State Park – Luzerne County
Another state park that is a favorite with Susquehanna employees, Ricketts Glen is famous for its waterfalls. The trails range from flat to steep, and can be challenging, as evidenced by a note on the state’s website that trails require good boots and caution.
Tuscarora Trail (Northeast) – Berkeley County
This is an 8-mile section of the Tuscarora Trail, meandering through the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. Doing the entire hike, which is mainly flat, will take you to Sleepy Creek Lake.
So with all these ideas (and trust me, they are just the tip of the iceberg), what’s stopping you from lacing up some comfortable shoes and heading out into the wild?