Planning Your Hike
Universally Accessible Lollipop Trail
This crushed stone trail is universally accessible so all visitors, including those with strollers, wheelchairs, or other mobility devices, are able to experience the preserve. The easy lollipop-shaped trail travels along the top of a heavily forested ridge which has little elevation change and is about a mile out-and-back including the loop. The UA trail will take you through a mature hardwood forest dominated by oak, hickory, cherry, and beach. Spice bush and evergreen American holly and mountain laurel form the shrub layer here. Look for the pawpaw grove at the end loop, too. Bikes, horses, and ATVs are not permitted on the UA trail as wheels and hooves can rut and pit the surface of the trail, making it more difficult for those with mobility devices to traverse.
Mill Creek Falls Trail
The 0.7-mile red blazed Mill Creek Falls Trail runs down slope from the parking area into the gorge worn into the geology by millions of years of water eroding stone. The trail travels past schist bedrock outcrops and short stair step falls in the creek and ends in a mystical rhododendron glen with mature rhododendrons towering overhead beneath enormous hemlock trees. The trail is not difficult until a short stretch of navigating the stream banks with rocks and small boulders just before meeting up with the regional Mason-Dixon Trail. The 10-foot-tall Mill Creek Falls can be seen just upstream from the confluence of the two tributaries that occurs here. You can extend your hike up the Mason-Dixon Trail and into McCalls Ferry Nature Preserve and state game lands.
Ecology and Management
Mill Creek Falls is managed for its passive recreation being of highest and best use. The uniqueness of the preserve is its level ridge line running west to east toward the Susquehanna River. This ridge is framed by gorges on both sides that bring two streams into confluence as they wrap around and terminate the ridge.
There are two major ecosystems present at Mill Creek Falls, as is typically the case of the Susquehanna Riverlands eco region. On the top of the plateau, on the upland parts of the preserve, the land is covered in mixed deciduous forest dominated by oak, hickory, cherry, and beach. Beneath the thick canopy, American holly, mountain laurel, and spicebush form an open shrub layer.
The climate in the ravines where the creek has worn away rock for millions of years is different than the uplands. The cooler, damper micro-climates formed in these steep-sided gorges allows a different plant community to establish, and the landscape here is dominated by large rhododendron and hemlock.
The mixed-hardwood uplands forest provides for level, universal access and winter views from a peak of 500 feet above sea level. The Mill Creek Falls Trail descends 240 feet from the parking lot to the confluence of streams. This trail traverses mesic slopes with protruding bedrock outcrops, rhododendrons, and towering hemlocks.
There are two unnamed creeks that straddle the ridge of the Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve which join and flow into the Susquehanna River.
Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve is open to Archery Only Hunting. Respect property boundaries and safety zones. All Pennsylvania Game Commission Rules and Regulations apply. 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 Conservancy had this property on their radar for years when our partner organization the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York County advised us it was on the market. With funding from DCNR, York County, and private donors, this preserve was acquired in 2021 as part of a larger tract that included the campground which was later subdivided and sold.
This project was supported in part by federal award number FAIN SLFRP0252 awarded to York County, Pennsylvania by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
318 E. Telegraph Road, Airville, PA 17302
ADA Parking. UA Trail. Trails. Preserve Sign. Kiosk. Port-a-john.