Lancaster Conservancy announced the opening of Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve with two new hiking trails, one of which is universally accessible for those with strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices.
“This is a stunningly beautiful nature preserve, with a hike along Mill Creek to the waterfalls as a highlight that needs to be experienced. I’m equally proud of the universally accessible trail, which is part of the Conservancy’s strategy to create preserves that are welcoming to all mobilities so everyone can experience nature to enjoy the peace and quiet, bird watching, or hunting,” said Conservancy President & CEO Fritz Schroeder.
Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve includes a 0.7-mile trail through forest of hemlock, tulip poplar, and rhododendron that connects to the regional Mason-Dixon Trail as well as a universal access trail that provides a 0.8-mile out-and-back hike on a crushed stone path that takes visitors through mixed-hardwood upland forest.
“Often the properties that the Conservancy preserves are some of Lancaster and York’s most rugged terrain which don’t provide the best opportunity for all people to experience, so when a property allows for improved access, then the Conservancy strives to capitalize on the opportunity to provide the highest level of universal accessibility,” Brandon Tennis, Senior Vice President of Stewardship at the Conservancy, said.
The 97-acre Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve protects upland forest, waterfalls, and two tributaries to the Susquehanna River. In addition to being adjacent to the scenic Mason-Dixon Trail, it is also located between two other Conservancy preserves–Conowingo Pond Nature Preserve and McCalls Ferry Nature Preserve–and is near Brookfield Renewable’s Lock 12 recreation area.
Mill Creek Falls was acquired by the Conservancy in 2021. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) helped fund the acquisition.
“This nature preserve is a wonderful addition to the region because of its scenic beauty and the accessible opportunities it provides to visitors looking to spend time outdoors,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Lancaster Conservancy continues to be a tremendous partner in our mission to protect public lands for future generations and we are grateful for the thoughtful preservation of this beautiful natural space.”
The property originally included a campground, which was subdivided and sold by the Conservancy. The nature preserve is located in the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape, which is a region designated by DCNR and deemed especially critical for protection for its environmental and recreational benefits. The landscape includes areas of Lancaster and York counties along the Susquehanna River.
“The Mill Creek Falls property is adjacent to protected publicly accessible Brookfield lands and between two Conservancy Preserves and includes incredible natural resources and opportunities for public recreation. The Conservancy was excited to protect this property which had been on our radar for years,” said Kate Gonick, Senior Vice President of Land Protection and General Counsel at the Conservancy.
“The Conservancy has worked hard to open Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve on the heels of the opening for Wizard Ranch Nature Preserve – two new nature preserves opened to the public in less than four months. With one in the northern end and the other in the southern end, the Conservancy remains balanced in its investment strategy to open new preserves across Lancaster and into York County. The Conservancy’s Seasonal Stewardship Crew (a green-collar job training program) was all-hands-on-deck with our Regional Preserves Managers and Land Stewards to complete the quick turn-around from one grand opening to the next,” Tennis said.
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.
“I am happy to help announce and show support for the opening of trails at the Lancaster Conservancy’s Mill Creek Falls Nature Preserve in southern York County,” said York County Commissioner Doug Hoke. “This beautiful natural area, with a universally accessible trail, is a welcomed asset. I applaud the Lancaster Conservancy’s great work in preserving, maintaining and allowing public access to natural lands along the Susquehanna Riverlands Landscape. These projects compliment the York County Open Space Land Preservation Program.”
Lancaster Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust that provides wild and forested lands and clean waterways for the community, forever. The organization has protected over 10,000 acres of natural land and manages 50 nature preserves open to the public in Lancaster and York counties. Learn more and donate at lancasterconservancy.org.