Winter is no reason to relegate your hiking boots to the back of the closet to wait for spring. Yes the days are shorter, but the biting bugs are fewer! Even a brisk 20 minute hike can have a dramatic impact on your physical and mental health. So layer up and get out to enjoy the subtle beauty of winter. Not sure where to start? Our team has chimed in with their favorite hikes for the season.
We wish everyone a safe winter of adventures, so please remember that hunters wear orange, and so should you!
Reed Run Nature Preserve
Faith DeJong, Development & Annual Fund Coordinator
The place I like to hike most in the winter is Reed Run. With the leaves gone and brush at a minimum you can really get a good feel for the variety of terrain there – meadows, wooded glens, streams. I have some good memories of hikes there. Once, up by the stone wall, about five or six deer crossed the path ten feet in front of me. I’ve spotted birds of prey, heard geese on the wing, seen snake skins, feathers and nests. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, especially in the winter, to stop, listen, smell, and observe.
Turkey Hill Nature Preserve & Trail
Steve Mohr Jr, Preserves Manager
The Turkey Hill trail is a wonderful hike in the cold winter months. The trail is steep in wooded areas and open for sunshine where it cuts through meadows, both of which are good for staying warm during your hike. Seasonally-bared trees along the wooded trail sections allow for beautiful views over the Susquehanna River.
Conestoga Trail via Fox Hollow Nature Preserve
Fritz Schroeder, Director of Marketing and Development
This hike is on the Conestoga Trail along the Pequea Creek directly adjacent to state game lands and the newly acquired Fox Hollow Nature Preserve. It is a flat well maintained trail that is perfect for all ages with stunning views of the creek from start to finish.
Conestoga Trail via Reed Run & House Rock
Brandon Tennis, Director of Stewardship
A section of the Conestoga Trail that connects Reed Run and House Rock Nature Preserves may be the most challenging hike in Lancaster County and, during the winter, one of the most rewarding with its grand views of the Susquehanna River. And with the addition of parking at House Rock Nature Preserve to be complete by February 2020, House Rock Overlook will be much more accessible since the preserve was acquired in 2006. Train up before you go and plan ahead with snacks, water, first aid, a map, and plenty of daylight.
Bellaire Woods Nature Preserve
Eric Roper, Forester
Bellaire Woods would be my pick for a winter hike if you’re looking for some solitude. The trail doesn’t get much love and is beautiful with snow on the ground and in the trees.
Kellys Run Nature Preserve
Kelly Snavely, Community Relations Specialist
Kellys Run is simply magical in the winter–icicles dangle off moss covered rocks, the vibrancy of lichen among the subtle grays of the season, and the trickling, gurgling, sometimes roaring companionship of the stream as you hike down towards the Susquehanna River. Cold wet feet from a few stream crossings are soon warmed on your climb up the old gated road and trail to the field. Yellow berries pop brightly against the winter sky and lingering milk weed seeds wave in the wind as you hike the last stretch back to your car.
Climbers Run Nature Center
Beth Hacker, Office Manager & Executive Support
I love to hike with my dogs at Climbers Run in the winter. Despite less bugs to irritate them, there are plenty of opportunities for trouble as they pull me along on their leashes by running through the creek or flushing bunnies and squirrels out from bushes. The few birds remaining for the cold season can be heard with such clarity and they’re easy to spot – nothing like seeing a bright red cardinal against a moody grey sky.
Wilton Meadows Nature Preserve
Phil Wenger, President
A great winter hike is the Mason-Dixon Trail from High Point County Park to the John Wright Restaurant which traverses our Wilton Meadows Nature Preserve. Grab a friend and park one car at the restaurant (where you can warm up at the end of your hike with a well earned meal) and take the other up to High Point for your gradual downhill walk.
Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve
Kate Gonick, Director of Land Protection & In-House Counsel
Welsh Mountain is the best place to go right after we get a snow fall if you’re a cross country skier. Our largest preserve has multiple looping trails, including a universally accessible trail. With the leaves down, the westward view of the county from the Overlook Trail is well-worth the extra time to check out.