It’s always a great time to hike in Lancaster County, with several dozen county trails open to the public year-round.
For a good idea of the best winter hiking trails, LNP | LancasterOnline spoke to three keen hikers to find their picks.
– Kristin Holloway, from Pequea, runs the blog Lancaster County Day Hikes, which features photos and descriptions of several trails across Lancaster County, along with other hiking prep tips for everyone from beginners to those more experienced in the hiking world. She has been hiking since she was little.
– Ryan DeLutis is a stay-at-home dad who lives in Mannheim Township and runs the instagram and YouTube channel “Hiker Dad.” DeLutis chronicles his personal hikes and takes videos so people know what to expect on particular trails. He has been hiking for five years.
– Dustin Underkoffler, from Conoy Township, describes himself as an outdoor enthusiast. He documents his hikes on his Instagram, @dunderkolanccoand says that “you don’t have to travel great distances for those glamorous shots that people envy”.
Here are these three avid hikers’ picks for the best winter trails to hike in Lancaster County.
Line of Pequea carts
The Pequea Trolley Line Trail, sometimes called the Martic Forge Trail, part of the 11-mile Conestoga Trail along River Road and Route 324 in Martic Township, is one of Holloway’s favorite trails for winter hiking.
“There are some rapids, which are really pretty,” says Holloway, who hiked the Martic Forge Trail after the snowstorm in early January.
“It was really nice with all the snow and water,” Holloway said. “There are icicles falling all over the rocks because there’s a lot of water dripping. And it’s just a nice level path. You don’t need a lot, you just need boots of snow, something waterproof.”
Underkoffler also recommends this trail, saying it’s “a short, easy hike.”
The trail skirts Pequea Creek and offers a glimpse of Pequea Gorge, also known as Suzy’s Hole, a once popular swimming hole owned by PPL.
– Or: Along the Conestoga Trail, at River Road and Route 324.
– Difficulty level: Easy. There are, however, a few stream crossings.
– Distance: About 2.5 miles.
Muddy Run Lakeshore Trail
This nearly 4 mile trail in Martic Township loops around a lake that freezes over in the winter.
“It takes you all around the lake, so when it’s frozen it’s really pretty,” says Holloway.
AllTrails, a website dedicated to hiking trails across the United States, describes the Muddy Run Lakeshore Trail as a “moderate” trail, which means it’s not the best start for beginners.
“It’s a bit more difficult, it’s a bit more rocky and there are roots, so it’s not as stable to walk on. You kind of have to watch your step,” says Holloway.
– Or: 172 Bethesda Church Road, Martic Township
– Difficulty level: Average.
– Distance: About 3.8 miles.
Kelly’s Running Trail
Also part of the Conestoga Trail, Kelly’s Run in Holtwood is known as a tricky but rewarding trail, especially during the winter months.
All three hikers we spoke with recommended this trail in some ways.
“This is one of my favorite hikes, just in general,” says Holloway. “But it’s really beautiful when there’s snow on the ground. Icicles higher than you, on some of those rocks.”
This is a more difficult trail and not recommended for those inexperienced or who lack proper winter hiking gear. There are lots of water crossings, says Holloway.
“It’s tough without the snow, but it’s really tough when you add the snow,” says Holloway. “Proper footwear is really important.”
Underkoffler says to stay near Pollinator Park because “it can get icy if you go down” where the water is.
DeLutis, a self-proclaimed outlook lover, also recommended Kelly’s Run for the Holtwood Pinnacle.
“Holtwood Pinnacle offers a great view of the Susquehanna River,” says DeLutis. “The view to the north is incomparable.”
– Or: 9 New Village Road, Holtwood.
– Difficulty level: Hard.
– Distance: 3.8 miles.
The Horseshoe Trail is a nearly 4 mile trail near Lititz that goes from Furnace Hills Pike to Horseshoe Trail Road.
DeLutis favorite part of the trail is the area from The Pretzel Hut to Eagle Rock, which is about 1.25 miles each way.
“The view from Eagle Rock is best seen in the winter,” says DeLutis. “You can see past Schafferstown, Myerstown and all the way to Blue Mountain Ridge. The view is completely blocked when there are leaves on the trees.”
– Or: Starts at Pretzel Hut, 2224 Furnace Hills Pike, Newmanstown.
– Difficulty level : Average.
– Distance: 2.5 miles.
Speedwell Forge Hiking Trail
Speedwell Forge Hiking Trail is a 3 mile trail near Lititz in Speedwell Forge County Park.
“There’s a little bit of everything,” DeLutis says, naming streams, climbs, woods, wildlife and occasionally fenced bulls.
It’s especially a good trail for the winter because “the creek freezes a bit and the lower angle of the sun coming through the trees makes for some amazing sunbeams,” says DeLutis.
– Or: 480 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz.
– Difficulty rating: Easy.
– Distance: 3 miles.