April showers bring May flowers!
If you have been outside at all it’s no secret that the weather is starting to calm down and the sun is staying out longer! That means its the perfect weather for a gent to hang out outside! I wanted to do a quick article on 3 awesome ways to spend your time outdoors in Lancaster. I am really excited to share this as I look forward to hearing where some of our readers favorite spots in Lancaster are. Whether you are an outdoor adventurer or simply want to catch some sun here are 3 spots to spend your free time! Best of all, these three options can all be visited for the price of: FREE.
I would argue that my favorite spot to spend my free time is my own backyard. We spend so much time taking care of the inside of our house but the one area of our house I am most proud of is our backyard. It is perfect for a night out: the grill is always ready, the lights are strung up, the yard smells like freshly cut grass, the fire pit has a fully stocked arsenal of fire wood and the corn hole is all set up! After a long work week, there is nothing like relaxing in your own backyard for a few hours. I plan to do another article on how a gentleman sets up his backyard for ultimate relaxation, but I’ll leave that or another time.
Here are a few shots of our backyard setup!
Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve
When my wife and I started dating, I wanted to take her to a place where we could be outdoors and she could see a trail where I would go when I was a kid. Although its not near the city, its a quick 15-20 min drive and still within the Lancaster limits! I remember going here as a Boy Scout and several times with my family just as a day trip. The cool thing about this trail is its very short and end at a tunnel with a creek. It is an awesome place to check out when the weather is beautiful. In the next couple of weeks it will be perfect for seeing picturesque flowers, wildlife and a chance to escape the business of our everyday lives and enjoy time with our friends and families.
Here is a description directly from the Preserve website:
approximately 85.966 acres
About: Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is a 85 acre nature preserve along the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River that is well known for its wildflowers. It is the only Conservancy property located in Conestoga Township. The property transferred to the conservancy from PPL in 2014. The wooded ravine hosts a rich diversity of seasonal wildflowers such as Dutchmen’s breeches, trillium, Virginia bluebells, and host of seasonal wildflowers.
Planning Your Walk: The trail to the preserve begins at the kiosk near the culvert at Grubb Hollow. The trail is approximately 1.7 miles in length and is renowned for wildflower walks and by naturalists who enjoy seeing spring ephemerals along the ravine and birding.
History: This preserve is surrounded by natural areas that were once used by early Native American tribes for hunting, gathering wild fruits and nuts, and farming corn, beans and squash along the rich floodplains. Due to the proximity of the Susquehanna River early Native American tribes accessed the river for fishing, fresh water, and trading opportunities until the mid-1700.The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission discovered the remains of these Native Americans near Shenks Ferry. The remains found were from what were once known as the Shenks Ferry people who were believed to be killed by the Susquehannock tribes for new territory. Archaeological findings date to thousands of years before Christ, while other findings date the Shenks Ferry people to have lived there in 1300 AD, before any Europeans arrived in the region.
Shenks Ferry received its name from Henry Shenks, who operated a ferry across the Susquehanna River to and from Lower Chanceford in York County in the early 1800s. By the 1940’s, most of the areas within and around Shenks Ferry were developed on or used for agriculture. Shenks Ferry finally became forested again around 1970, and has largely remained the same for the past 45 years.
Today, Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is a PA Natural Heritage Area and is home to over 100 spring wildflowers.
Watershed Facts: The stream that runs through Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is Grubb Hollow (also referred to as “Grub Run”), which flows southwest through the terrain to the Susquehanna River. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this stream is classified as a High Quality Warm Water fishery.
Fauna: American toads, eastern box turtles, deer, and fox. More than 50 species of birds have been sighted including the Eastern Wood-Pewee, Pileated Woodpecker, Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow and Black-Billed Cuckoos, Louisiana Water Thrush, Northern Parula Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Worm-Eating Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Wild Turkey, and the Eastern Phoebe.
Flora: Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is known for its diverse wildflower and native plant species. Species include eastern woodland sedge, yellow and white trout lily, trillium, white wood aster, hackberry, pawpaw, tulip poplar and around 20 varieties of ferns. This preserve is comprised of predominantly secondary growth woodland with a forested canopy comprised of sugar maples, basswood, American beech, and mixed hardwood species.
Muddy Run Park
I often frequented this park when I was a Boy Scout and my wife and I love to go here when we have a free day and it’s nice outside. They have boat rentals as well as a boat ramp, various hiking trails, super affordable tenting locations and fishing area around the lake.
Directly from the park website:
Stay for the week or come for the day! Camp with the whole family, explore miles of scenic trails or just relax and enjoy a lazy canoe ride around our beautiful lake. Nestled within the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch farmlands in Southern Lancaster County our 700 acres of woodland and rolling fields offer a variety of outdoor adventures for your family and friends.
For our campers
There are 189 sites (148 trailer sites with electric and water hookups available and 38 tent sites and 3 primitive group sites).Each site has a picnic table, a charcoal grill, a fire ring, and paved parking pads. Got kids? Our campground includes two childrens playgrounds. Our campground offers clean, convenient modern rest and bath facilities (including two handicapped accessible areas (one for men and one for women)) and a coin operated laundry. Although we do not offer sewer hookup we do offer two sanitary dumping stations. For more information see the Campground page or contact our camp office at our email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our fishers
Muddy Run’s Lake has a variety of popular game fish. A boat launch is available for a small fee for anyone not enjoying our campground facilities. At Muddy Run’s Boat Dock we have rowboats (with or without electric motors), paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes to rent.NO GASOLINE POWERED OR INFLATABLE BOATS ARE PERMITTED. NO SWIMMING OR WADING ANYWHERE IN THE LAKE. Pennsylvania Fish Commission regulations apply (must have a PA fishing licenses, which we do not provide in the park). For more information on the lake or boat dock see our boat dock page or contact the boat dock at (717) 284-5869 during our regular boating season.
These are just three of my favorite spots to hit when the weather is right! Where are your favorite places to go? Share out below and here is looking forward to the weather getting nicer!