Spring 2013 Swatara State Park Improvements


The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks is excited about the improvements under construction at Swatara State Park. The project includes the creation Bear Hole Trail by converting a section of Old State Road into a multi-purpose trail. The trail meanders up and down along the east side of the Swatara Creek through the beautiful forest. The work includes the resurfacing Bear Hole Trail and some of the existing rail trail that runs smoothly along the west side of the Swatara Creek with crushed stone. Construction of a bridge over the Mill Creek on the rail trail; and the construction of a 485 foot bridge across the Swatara Creek near Sand Siding between the rail trail and Bear Hole Trail provide creek crossings creating many hiking options. Sand Siding is located along the Swatara Creek south of State Route 443 at Twin Grove Park.

Construction of three new trail heads with parking and informational kiosks give patrons a greater choice of starting locations for each day of adventure.

A stone-lined, gravel path leads to the Swatara Creek at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.The Lickdale Trail Head located on Monroe Valley Road at the southern end of the park is great for boating access and a paddle to Jonestown. Nearby trails offer a great opportunity to spend time with family and see the local wildlife.

The Trout Run Trail Head is located on Route 72. From this trail head, patrons can access the Swatara Rail Trail with ease. From here you can also access Trout Run Trail, short paved trail, good for strollers. One thing that has always been missing at Swatara is a rest room. Park staff is happy to announce that the funding has been released, and a comfort station is out for bid to provide this much needed service to our guests. It will be constructed at the Trout Run Trail Head, making longer visits to the park a possibility.

The Swopes Valley Trail Head, further north in the park, is another great place to drop in a canoe or kayak with a planned “take-out” at Lickdale; or head out for a hike or with your mountain bike. A large parking lot was also built here for special event days or large groups to enjoy the park. Parking is also designed to handle school buses and vehicles with trailers for that unique trip to the Fossil Site. Access to Wagner’s Pond, a favorite for family fishing trips, is just across from the Swopes Valley Trail Head.

Many mountain bikers parks and ride the mountain bike trails at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.State Park Lane leads to a parking lot that allows trail access to the popular mountain bike trails that were designed, built and maintained by Susquehanna Area Mountain Biking Association (S.A.M.B.A.). One can also access the Swatara Rail Trail from this trail head.

State Park Lane leads to a parking lot that allows trail access to the popular mountain bike trails that were designed, built and maintained by Susquehanna Area Mountain Biking Association (S.A.M.B.A.). One can also access the Swatara Rail Trail from this trail head.

Traditional parking for hunters, hikers, anglers, horseback riders and many other patrons remain along State Route 443. Eagle Scout Troup 431 recently made improvements to one of these lots specifically for our equestrian users. Small groups of riders can trailer in to access both the rail trail and a woodland trail, under development in conjunction with local riders.

The Bureau of State Parks is anxiously awaiting the completion of work being performed under the supervision of Kinsley Construction of York County, the project’s general contractor. Kinsley has several items that must be completed in warmer weather, but the end of their work is in sight. Please be respectful of the construction process and obey the signage in the construction areas. Premature driving, hiking, biking, and equestrian A bridge leaps across Swatara Creek at Swatara State Park, Pennsylvania.traffic have already caused damage, delayed completion, and put patrons and construction workers at risk. Continued damage will result in further delays and additional costs to the contractor and the Commonwealth. Please be mindful of your own personal safety and the efficiency of the construction project by keeping out of posted construction areas.

Excited about this new opportunity, State Park Director David Kemmerer visited Swatara State Park to get a personal perspective on this project. He was moved by the beautiful area how easily accessible it is to the citizens of Pennsylvania and especially to the people of Lebanon, Schuylkill, Northumberland, Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. “The citizens of the Pennsylvania have worked many years for this, and it was worth the work; only 30 miles from the state capitol building to this beautiful and natural 3500 acre park, at the crossroads of Pennsylvania’s history and natural resources. I am happy to see it coming together.”