About Climbers Run Nature Center
Climbers Run Nature Center is the Lancaster Conservancy’s hub for conservation education and volunteerism. The Russo Barn hosts events about bugs, birds, plants, hiking safety, and more for people of all ages! It is also a training center for our volunteers, who test water quality and help maintain our preserves. Plus, Climbers Run offers some beautiful hikes through woods and meadows.
Planning Your Hike
Climbers Run beckons visitors to enjoy a picnic lunch at the historic barn or in the meadow by the cabins, explore the hiking trails meandering through shady woodlands along an eastern brook trout stream and over hills to open meadows. Keep your eyes open for bluebirds, toads, painted turtles, skunk cabbage, wild turkey, and a diversity of wildlife in every season. This preserve is a great place to reflect in nature and provide an outdoor classroom experience for youth and families.
The property contains two miles of hiking trails. There are three main trails:
Amos & Esta Funk Trail (previously blue, but now orange trail): Start the trail at the upper or lower parking area and cruise the loop to see the various types of habitat Climbers Run has to offer from forests to streamside to meadow (including a bird blind).
Climbers Hollow Trail (previously white, now yellow trail): This trail to the east and directly downhill from the main preserve kiosk past the pond follows Climbers Run up the hollow between two hills and provides a scenic view cascading waterfalls tumbling over rock through forested terrain.
Upland Loop Trail (white trail): Visitors leave from the Center and follow the pathway to the pond and over Mueller’s Bridge to the meadow area by the cabins. Pick up the trail behind the cabins and follow the white blazes as they take you along the base of the hill to begin your hike up to the top of Mueller’s Woods where you can take in a birds eye view of the preserve. Reward yourself after your trip back down with a picnic lunch by the stream.
There are several old logging roads or trails not included on the map that are under review for improvements.
Ecology and Management
This Preserve is dominated by tree species such as oaks, hickory, dogwood, ash, tulip poplar, some hemlock and white pine, and sycamores. Below the canopy you can find various shrub species such as smooth hydrangea, spicebush, mountain laurel, and rosebay rhododendron. An abundance of ferns, violets, mayapple, Solomon’s seal, and other wildflowers can also be found. Woodland edges and dry to wet meadows showcase skunk cabbage, turk’s cap lily, swamp milkweed, asters, goldenrods and native grasses throughout the season. The Conservancy is actively managing invasive species including garlic mustard, tree of heaven, exotic honeysuckles, multiflora rose, and Norway maple that are competing with desirable native vegetation.
Spring: Native woodland wildflowers including trout lily, spring beauty, false hellebore, and trees and shrubs like swamp azalea, dogwoods, redbuds, and more.
Summer: Joe pye weed, phlox, cardinal flower, and elderberry highlight this season and along with a diversity of pollinator-loving native plants.
Autumn: Colorful fall foliage of native deciduous trees like oaks, black gum, shrubs including winterberry, shrub dogwoods, and herbaceous plants including asters and goldenrods.
Over 90 bird species have been observed at Climbers Run including ruby-throated hummingbirds, northern cardinals, turkey vultures, bluebirds, wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and Carolina wrens. Twenty-four species of amphibians and reptiles including numerous frogs, toads, and snakes have been documented. There is a diverse population of native plants that provide essential nectar and pollen sources for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths. The Preserve is a critical habitat to thousands of species of plants that support aquatic species such as fish and macroinvertebrates like stoneflies and water pennies.
Climbers Run cascades through pristine forests to lowlands and meanders to the Pequea Creek and eventually the Susquehanna River to the Bay. A stroll along the rushing water tempts the senses of visitors, evoking a feeling of Lancaster County long before development and deforestation. Climbers Run holds a rare treasure: wild brook trout, which are found only where forested buffers provide clean, cold water essential to this species’ survival. A pond fed by natural springs is located near the historic house.
This preserve demonstrates Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as a rain garden, meadows, riparian buffer, and a stream restoration project that keeps this wild trout stream clean and attracts all kinds of wildlife. The Conservancy partnered with Donegal Trout Unlimited who led the restoration project investing over $140,000 to restore 2,400 feet of stream and managing more than 16 acres of invasive understory.
Climbers Run drains into the Susquehanna River.
Climbers Run is not open to the general public for hunting. It is unlawful to discharge a rifle or single projectile firearm at this preserve. Violators will be charged as defiant trespassers. PA. C.S. 18 SS 3503(b). See Where to Hunt for more details.
Report Hunting Violations: PA Game Commission Centralized Dispatch Center at 1-833-PGC-HUNT (1-833-742-4868) or 1-833-PGC-WILD (1-833-742-9453)
The pond and stream are designated as “Catch and Release Only, Artificial Lure & Barbless Hook.” Please remember to wear your fishing license as per the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Rules and Regulations.
The Snyder family donated the farm that is now Climbers Run Nature Preserve to the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster in the early 1960s, calling the property Camp Snyder. The Boys and Girls Club used Camp Snyder as a youth summer camp until the late 2000s. The Conservancy acquired the property in 2012 with funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) matched by land donated by Andrew Hooker Appel (now designated Appel Nature Preserve); Trout Unlimited funding; and support from several individual donors. With a 7 acre donation from the Schneider family that same year, the preserved area increased to about 83 acres.
The Conservancy renamed the preserve “Climbers Run” to recognize its native brook trout stream. This site is also the location of the Conservancy’s Susquehanna Riverlands Research and Education Center where we work closely with community partners to educate students, youth, families, and life-long learners. The Center continues to undergo renovations to accommodate research and educational opportunities and conduct workshops, environmental events and programming for public benefit as a result of support from private donors, foundations, and grants. Learn more about Climbers Run by reading our Success Story.
226 Frogtown Road, Pequea, PA 17565
If your organization is interested in holding an event at Climbers Run Nature Center, please complete our Event Notice form.
In case of emergency, call 911
Nearest Hospital – 9.8 miles away
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital
555 N Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602
Rawlinsville Fire Company
PA State Police
Climbers Run Nature Center Renovations
With funds raised through the Lancaster Conservancy’s Protect & Restore campaign, we are going to renovate Climbers Run Nature Center and the Russo Barn into a hub for outdoor education.
Climbers Run beckons you to explore. It is a special preserve with upland and lowland plant communities, meadows, fields, maturing and young woodlands, wetlands, a wild trout stream, and a pond — a showcase of diverse wildlife habitats not often found in one location, let alone just 113 acres. Climbers Run is also a place where students, volunteers, families, researchers, birders, hikers, and more can receive hands on learning, focused instruction, and immersive interpretation of our natural world.
Our goal is to raise $3 million for education and access improvements at Climbers Run through the Protect & Restore campaign. Those funds will be used for the following:
Russo Barn Improvements
- Modernize the two meeting spaces for research, projection, and video broadcasting so that workshops and training sessions can be recorded and shared with a wider audience.
- Restore offices on second floor of barn to accommodate Nature Center staffing needs with workstations that include internet access, desks, and computers.
- Add a ramp and observation platform to the second floor that looks out over the lower meadow and stream — creating an accessible outdoor space for education and gathering.
- Create functional outdoor classroom areas where students and youth can gather and learn from instructors while immersed in nature.
- Restore native habitats around the barn, in the meadow, and in the lower field to create better bird, animal, and pollinator habitats that provide educational opportunities as interpretive sites and demonstration gardens.
- Improve bird blind area to create a quality viewing station with video streaming capability to broadcast this nature observation experience from the preserve to homes and classrooms.
- Improve the safety of visitors (particularly for school buses) by widening the driveway to two lanes.
- Increase on-site parking to safely accommodate larger groups and meet the logistical needs of our partners and our own expanded program offerings.
- Repair the pond to prevent it from breaching into the Climbers Run stream — protecting two ecosystems for both learning and study.
- Strengthen the preserve’s wetlands to capture and clean stormwater runoff on-site.
- Install two bridges over the stream to provide safe access to all sections of the preserves, while also protecting precious streamside ecosystems.