Susquehannock State Park
Four properties along the scenic Lower Susquehanna River comprise the Susquehannock State Park Complex. The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park is on a wooded plateau overlooking the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County. Besides the outstanding view, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities for year-round fun. Scenic views of the river abound just north at Pinnacle Overlook, and northwest at Urey Overlook. Samuel S. Lewis State Park has picnicking, kite flying and a view of the river.
Scenic Views: Hawk Point Overlook offers visitors a glimpse of the Conowingo Reservoir, the northernmost and largest of several hydroelectric impoundments on the lower Susquehanna. Straddling the Pennsylvania and Maryland border, the reservoir generates hydroelectric power and cooling water for the Peach Bottom nuclear reactors while also serving as a popular boating and fishing destination.
Located downriver on the far left of Hawk Point, visitors can see Mount Johnson Island, the world’s first bald eagle sanctuary. For many years, Mount Johnson Island hosted a pair of nesting bald eagles. Visitors can use the optical viewer or binoculars to spot eagles, osprey, turkey vultures and black vultures that regularly soar by these cliffs using columns of rising air called thermals.
Wisslers Run Overlook gives an excellent view of the Susquehanna’s naturally rocky riverbed. The overlook also provides a view of the Muddy Run pump storage hydroelectric plant with the impressive 21-span Norman Wood Bridge and Holtwood Dam in the background. The Osprey nest on the large power line towers in front of the overlook.
Panoramic views of the Susquehanna River can be seen from the 380 feet high overlooks of the park complex. When enjoying the views, visitors should remain a safe distance back from drop-off areas and children should be closely supervised.
Picnicking: More than 80 picnic tables and 20 grills are spread throughout both sunny and shaded areas of Susquehannock State Park. Parking, water fountains, restrooms, a playground, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and two softball fields with backstops and benches are easily accessible. Two large picnic pavilions with grills, water, electric outlets and lights can accommodate larger groups and special events and may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee.
Make a reservation.
Horseback Riding: The trails of the park provide a beautiful setting for horseback riding, although it is prohibited at the overlooks and on Rhododendron Trail. Several shaded hitching rails for horses are located in the park to accommodate riding clubs and horse drawn wagons.
Hiking: 5.6 miles of trails
Chimney Trail: 0.35 mile, more difficult hiking
Fire Trail: 0.33 mile, more difficult hiking
Five Points Trail: 0.7 mile, most difficult hiking
Holly Trail: 0.5 mile, easiest hiking
Landis Trail: 0.6 mile, more difficult hiking
Nature Trail: 0.3 mile, easiest hiking
Overlook Trail: 0.55 mile, more difficult hiking
Pine Tree Trail: 0.31 mile, most difficult hiking
Pipeline Trail: 0.24 mile, easiest hiking
Rhododendron Trail: 1.2 miles, most difficult hiking
Spring Trail: 0.4 mile, easiest hiking
Cross-country Skiing: Visitors enjoy cross-country skiing on more than 2 miles of park trails including the Pipe Line, Chimney, Landis, and Overlook, as well as throughout open fields.
Organized Group Tenting: The four organized group campsites can accommodate various group sizes. Qualified adult and youth groups may reserve space in the organized group tenting area for overnight use. Call toll-free, 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757) for reservations.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
Ballfield and Hawk Point pavilions, upper and lower restrooms, Hawk Point Overlook and the park office are fully ADA accessible.
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
Overlooks are great places to see birds from an unusual angle; from above! Bald eagles, osprey and the more common turkey and black vultures regularly patrol the sky by the Hawk Point Overlook. Spring and fall are peak seasons for bird migrations and the park can provide great views of migrating hawks, gulls, eagles, ducks, geese, swans, songbirds and shorebirds.
Many islands can be seen from the Hawk Point Overlook, including Mount Johnson Island, the world’s first bald eagle sanctuary. From the overlook, the island is downstream on the far left. Mount Johnson Island featured nesting eagles for many years. Currently, eagles nest on an island just upstream from the overlook.
Conejohela Flats, an internationally recognized migratory shorebird resting area, is a few miles upstream from Hawk Point. As many as 38 species of shorebirds feed and rest on the Flats before continuing their journeys to their breeding grounds, which can be as far north as the Arctic Circle, or wintering grounds in Central and South America. The Conejohela Flats has been designated a state Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society.
While exploring the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, Captain John Smith first encountered the Susquehannocks. In his journal, Captain Smith described them as “seemed like Giants to the English” but archeological research shows the Susquehannocks to have been of average size for the time.
It is unknown what the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks called themselves, but the name that graces the river, the people and the state park is derived from the name, Sasquesahanough, given to Captain Smith by his Algonquian-speaking American Indian interpreter. The word has been translated “people at the falls” or “roily water people” referring to the Susquehannock’s home by the river. This small but powerful tribe occupied only one or two major towns at a time, but controlled the important trade routes along the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Their last town was near present-day Conestoga and the Susquehannocks were sometimes referred to as Conestoga Indians.
During the Beaver Wars, 1649 to 1656, the Susquehannocks formed an alliance with Maryland to acquire rifles and successfully fought the much larger Iroquois Confederacy. A brief peace followed before the Susquehannocks again waged war with the Iroquois until suffering a major defeat in 1675.
Some Susquehannocks moved to old Fort Piscataway, below present-day Washington DC. Problems on the frontiers led to the mobilization of the militias of Maryland and Virginia and in confusion, they surrounded the peaceful Susquehannock village. Five Susquehannock chiefs went to negotiate and were murdered. The Susquehannocks slipped out of the fort at night and harassed settlers in Virginia and Maryland, then eventually moved back to live along the Susquehanna River. Around 1677, the Susquehannocks moved to New York and intermingled with their Iroquois relatives. In 1697, some Susquehannocks returned to the lower Susquehanna Valley area and built a new village called Conestoga. In the early 1700s, a few of the Susquehannocks migrated to Ohio where they intermingled with other tribes and lost their identity as a distinct nation.
The remaining Susquehannocks, often called Conestogas, stayed and their town remained an important activity center for many years where many treaties were negotiated and signed, yet the population declined. In 1763, the remaining Susquehannocks at Conestoga lived under the protection of the Commonwealth. In response to Pontiacs War, begun in the western part of the state, the Paxton Boys, a group of anti-Indian vigilantes, slaughtered six Indians at Conestoga. Those not in the village at the time of the massacre were taken to the workhouse (jail) in Lancaster city for their own protection. The governor condemned the killings and forbid further violence. Less than two weeks later, the Paxton Boys returned and slaughtered the 14 Indians at the workhouse.
A husband and wife known only as Michael and Mary are the only Susquehannocks known to have escaped the massacres. They had been living on the farm of Christian Hershey near Lititz, Pa. The governor gave special papers for their protection. When they died and were buried on the farm, it marked the end of the once powerful Susquehannock Indians.
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The Drumore Sickle
Scotch-Irish began homesteading the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River as early as 1715. They called the area Drumore after Dromore, a place in Ireland where many Scotch-Irish families emigrated from, including the Long and Neel families.
Drumore became known for the manufacturing of sickles and scythes used for grain harvesting. The Drumore Sickle had a reputation for its quality and affordable price which drove the English competition out of the market.
There were several sickle makers in Drumore, crafting sickles and scythes in small blacksmith shops and larger sickle mills. The Long family are standouts with four generations of sickle and scythe makers beginning in the early 1700s through the 1860s.
By the 1860s, the scythe was the standard reaping tool. It would be the late 1880s before machines like the McCormick’s Reaper would replace the sickle and scythe on the farm.
James Buchanan Long was among the last sickle makers in Drumore township, having worked alongside his grandfather and father. He would also be the executor of both of their estates.
James B. Long Home 1850
As part of his inheritance, James chose a piece of his father’s land to farm and build a home for his wife Catherine and six children. Constructed of field stone, it would have been covered in stucco and it still retains its slate roof. The front door is a “Bible and Cross” frame and panel door and the side door is an older style plank door. Inside the walls are horsehair plaster and one room has a large cooking fireplace with panel doors to close when not in use keeping out the cold. On the opposite side of the house is a small chimney for a parlor stove. The floors are constructed of wide wood planks. In the basement’s earthen floor is a cold cellar for storing preserved foods. While the exterior of the structure has been stabilized the interior is currently not accessible for public visitation. The home is located next to the park office.
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Susquehannock State Park
The lower Susquehanna River Valley offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities including hiking, wildlife watching, boating, fishing, geocaching, picnicking, horseback riding, and environmental and cultural education.
Samuel S. Lewis State Park near Wrightsville, York County, offers picnicking, hiking, disc golf and sweeping views of the Susquehanna River. 717-252-1134.
On the east side of the river, information on nearby attractions is available from the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau. www.padutchcountry.com
On the west side of the river, information on nearby attractions is available from York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. www.yorkpa.org
Maps and Downloadables
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Susquehannock State Park Map (.pdf) (2,299 kb, 9/14)
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
From Lancaster and PA 372, turn left on Susquehannock Drive then right onto Park Road. From York and PA 372, turn right on River Road, right on Furniss Road, hard right on Susquehannock Road, and right onto Park Road.
GPS DD: Lat. 39.80607 Long. -76.28341
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Susquehannock State Park