Section D of the Conestoga is an absolute gem that I won't give up easily. It is an all day hike that will kick your butt - but the rewards are many. At several points it is a ridgeline hike that overlooks 300' - 7 mile views of the big basin on the Susquehanna River. Indicative of every other trail in PA., there is a lot of elevation loss and gain. You are never on a ridge for long, before you have to cut back down 200' to cross a creek of which there are 4. Natural features include 2 spectacular vistas, one called House Rock and another at the Holtwood Pinnacle. There is a caving opportunity early in the hike called Wind Cave. It is a plate tectonic cleft in the hillside that leads you down a path. To the right and left are smaller passages that take you to a couple of larger rooms. No ambient light, so bring a headlamp. Conditions are usually slippery so be careful. The trail eventually ends up crossing and following a creek through an area containing the largest diameter mountain laurel I've ever seen and then cutting through a small canyon with 2 or 3 beautiful little waterfalls.
From route 30 West, take route 10 South down into Parkesburg and make a right at 372 West. 372 cuts through several small towns in Southern Lancaster County. Eventually, you will cross route 272. Continue to follow 372 which is now Holtwood Rd. Look for River Rd. on the right in a few miles. If you miss the right at River Rd., you will soon be on a bridge going across the Susquehanna River, if this happens, backtrack. Once you've made the right at River Rd. you will drive down a hill and up the other side to a stop sign. Make a left there onto Old Holtwood Road. Shortly there will be a driveway on the right leading to a small parking area in what is called the Holtwood Rec Area. This is an end to end hike so it is necessary to drop one vehicle off here. This is the trails end.
Once you are loaded into the second vehicle, go back out to River Rd. and hang a left. This is a very hilly back road with some hairpin turns in it. You will eventually end up making a left at Route 324. Follow 324 until it dead ends at an old metal bridge. Across the street is a boat launch parking area operated by PP&L. Park there to the right.
Once prepared, proceed on foot across the metal bridge and make your first left, I think that's Maxwell Rd. Walk to the top of the hill and make a right onto a rough road which I think is Ridge Drive. About 3/4 of a mile down this road, you will see Orange double blazes on a telephone pole to the left. Let the fun begin!
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Posted By: surreality87
- Mon Mar 30 15:31:38 UTC 2009
Upsidegreat views, the cave is awesome and a great workout Downsidethe start of the trail goes thru peoples yards almost, just feels a little wierd Comment****IMPORTANT UPDATE**** I just hiked this trail in march and the bridge is under construction and is not crossable. Do not follow the directions posted until the bridge is finished since the parking listed for starting point and the bridge itself are both blocked off by the construction company. I did find alternate parking but you will miss the first mile to mile and a half of the trail(including the cave) so you will need to back track a bit from the new start point if you want to see the cave. When you are following river road from the drop off point, after passing douts hill rd look for delta road on the left which hooks back to the left a little bit(ignore the first intersection with west view, its a very rough dirt road). delta road will dump you onto west view rd. once on west view make your first left onto house rock rd and take that almost all the way out and just before you get to the end of the road there is a small parking stall on the left for the reed nature preserve. once parked and geared up the best way to go is to walk out to the end of the road and follow the gravel road out to the blue marked trail(ignore the no trespassing sign at the start of the gravel road, that is for the field on the right). once the gravel road ends and dumps you into a field turn left and follow the brush line till you see a marker with a blue dot on it. go straight back past the abandoned house to the trail head of the blue trail. follow the blue trail till it intersects with the orange blaze trail mentioned in the directions. If you want to go to the cave you need to go to the right at the trail intersection, heading north, otherwise go left towards the dropoff point. Have fun its a great hike.