Donegal Highlands Nature Preserve

About This Preserve
  • 112 Acres
  • Region: PA Highlands
  • Coordinates: 40.18204, -76.59583

Ecology and Management

Donegal Highlands is a keystone parcel of the lowest southern foothill of the PA Highlands and serves as a predominant wildlife corridor between Hellam Hills in York County and the Susquehanna River to the Furnace Hills in Lebanon County.

Donegal Highlands serves edge species and forest species equally well. Meadows and old fields with berry canes and red cedars establish a wide edge-habitat before entering the forest. Second-growth mixed hardwood forest; mesic in areas, hydric in others, small upland hilltops. Trees and shrubs include red and white oaks, ash, hickories including a fair population of shagbark, maples, tulip poplar, and black cherry and understory species of ferns and some common wildflowers. Look out for ground nesting birds and song-birds in the canopy and understory. Woodpeckers and sapsuckers are common sights. Hawks and other birds of prey cruise the meadows and sometimes fly just under the forest canopy.

Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect species, caused significant mortality is the ash population. A salvage harvest of hazard trees was conducted in 2019 with funds reinvested into the Preserve.

A trail easement owned by Mount Joy Township traverses the property with the intent to connect Elizabethtown Borough to the newly established Old Trolley Line Park and furthermore to the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation’s Conewago Recreation Trail. A ‘Unique Natural Lands Overlay’ was first designated to the Donegal Highlands Nature Preserve in 2018.

Watershed

Two cold, unnamed streams converge within the Preserve before joining the Conewago Creek and emptying into the Susquehanna River at the Conewago Falls just beneath the York Haven Dam.

Hunting Information

No hunting

Acquisition History

This land was acquired from and partially donated by the Elizabethtown Area Park Authority in 2009 with funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Natural Lands Preservation Fund of Lancaster County. A trail easement owned by Mount Joy Township traverses the property with the intent to connect Elizabethtown Borough to the newly established Old Trolley Line Park and furthermore to the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation’s Conewago Recreation Trail. A ‘Unique Natural Lands Overlay’ was first designated to the Donegal Highlands Nature Preserve in 2018.

Amenities

Parking available at Old Trolley Line Park

Prevent Tick Borne Illness!

  • Wear repellent
  • Check for ticks after your visit
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash

For more information visit cdc.gov/lyme

Emergency Information

In case of emergency, call 911

Nearest Hospital – 18.9 miles away
UPMC Pinnacle Lititz

1500 Highlands Drive, Lititz, PA 17543

Additional Resources

Fire Department Mount Joy
717-653-1600

Northwest Regional Lancaster County Police Department
717-367-8481