This preserve was donated by the Rannels Family in 1998 and 2003.
Planning Your Walk
From western trail head is a well-marked trail. Walk north, wade across Kettle Run. Continue north to a trail connecting to Horseshoe Trail to create a loop.
From eastern trail head, walk west from parking area uphill along Horseshoe trail past Conservancy sign at northeast corner of preserve to mountain top. Left on blue-blazed trail downhill to left turn at bottom to follow Kettle Run, then left again uphill back to Horseshoe Trail at Conservancy sign. The total trail length is estimated at 2.0 miles.
To prevent erosion, horseback riding is not permitted on the preserve.
What to See & Do
This 90 acre property in Furnace Hills in underlain by Triassic sandstone. The soil has some shale.
Kettle Run is a tributary of Hammer Creek, flowing to Cocalico Creek, to Conestoga River, the Susquehanna River, to Chesapeake Bay. The preserve varies from a relatively flat, occasionally moist swale to a dry hillside with seepages, providing significant flow to Kettle Run.
There are oaks, maples, beeches, and birches on the lower, level areas. Forest species are white pine, red maple, red, white, and chestnut oak, hickory, beech, sweet birch, tulip poplar, cherry and some Canadian hemlock, plus a few American chestnuts. Sourwoods, flowering and alternate leafed dogwood, barberry, alder, laurel, sassafras, spice bush, tupelo, maple leaf viburnum, and arrowwood grow here, too.
Flowering dogwood is conspicuous in early May. There are some scattered blackberries, groundberries, and wineberries. About a dozen ferns are found here, including cinnamon fern, Christmas fern, along with rattlesnake, hay-scented, New York, spinulous wood, sensitive, and intermediate fern.
Forty or more wildflowers can be seen in a casual mid-May stroll. Two or more are characteristic of the area’s acid soils, the showy orchid (Orchis spectabilis), and the starflower (Trientalis borealis).
Indian poke, and false hellebore (Veratrum viride), accompany skunk cabbage in wet spots, along with cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), in the moist woods.
The upper portion is a dry open wood with a lot of multiflora rose and spice bush.
Take your binoculars and look for resident and migrating warblers, scarlet tanagers, and wood and water thrushes. Other residents here include deer, and pileated, downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers, as well as great horned owls and great blue herons.
Spring: Wildflowers and ferns
Summer: Wine berries
Dead End Road, Elizabeth Township.
Eastern trailhead – At Upper Hopewell Forge Wildlife Sanctuary. From Lancaster, follow PA 501 north through Lititz to Brickerville. Left on US 322 , left on Speedwell Rd, then right on Pumping Station Rd to parking area. To access Rannels Kettle Run Nature Preserve, walk west along yellow-blazed Horseshoe Trail to sign.
Western trailhead – Continue west on Speedwell Rd, then right onto Dead End Rd. Follow Dead End Rd west to first State Game Lands #156 parking area.