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USA Parks
Pennsylvania
North-Central Region
Susquehanna State Forest
SUSQUEHANNA STATE FOREST
SUSQUEHANNA STATE FOREST
The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park is on a wooded plateau overlooking the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County. Besides the awesome view, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities for year-round fun.
History of the Area
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.

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 tribe had only one village by present-day Conestoga, but controlled the important trade routes along the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.

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 then the Susquehannocks again waged war with the Iroquois until suffering a major defeat in 1675.

The 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 along the Susquehanna River. Around 1677, the Susque-hannocks moved to New York and intermingled with their Iroquois relatives. In 1697, some Susquehannocks returned to the Conestoga area and built a new village. In the early 1700s, 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 village remained an important Indian village for many years where many treaties were negotiated and signed, but 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. The rest of the Indians, who had been out peddling small goods like baskets and brooms, were taken to a workhouse in Lancaster for their own protection. The governor condemned the killings and forbid further violence. Less than two weeks later, the Paxton Boys slaughtered the 14 Indians in the workhouse.

The governor gave special papers of protection to the remaining two Susquehannocks, who worked as servants on a local farm. When they died and were buried on the farm, it was the end of the once powerful Susquehannocks.


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Picnicking
Shaded picnic spots are available throughout much of this aesthetically pleasing park. There are more than 100 tables including some with paved paths and pads. A number of picnic sites have grills and all have parking, water and restrooms nearby. For groups or special occasions there are two large picnic pavilions with large cooking grills, water, electric outlets and lighting. The accessible picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Call toll-free, 888-PA-PARKS for reservations. There are also two softball fields with backstops and benches as well as play areas and trailheads nearby.
Trails
Horseback Riding:

The many trails throughout the park and the adjacent Muddy Run Recreation Area offer a beautiful setting for horseback riding in the river hills. Horseback riding is prohibited at the overlooks and on Rhododendron Trail. To accommodate riding clubs and horse-drawn wagons, a shaded hitching rail for horses is in the lower parking lot.

Hiking: 5 miles of trails

The scenic hiking trails offer a wide variety of interesting habitats and evidence of people's past use of the area. A Field Guide to the Natural History of Susquehannock State Park is available at the park office to assist you in discovering the natural resources of the park.

Native holly, rhododendron, spring and summer wildflowers and a variety of other plant life await your discovery. Walk or sit quietly along a trail to observe deer, songbirds, lizards or many other forms of wildlife. From the overlooks, watch for vultures, hawks, osprey and, if you are lucky, you may spot a bald eagle. Old homestead sites are also evident along a number of the trails.

The most popular trail is the Overlook Trail as this leads to the two scenic vistas that overlook the Susquehanna River. This 0.55-mile trail leads to both Hawk Point and Wissler's Run overlooks and offers the visitor panoramic views for the lower and upper reaches of the river.

At 1.2-mile, Rhododendron Trail is the longest and most difficult of the park's trails traversing some steep and rocky terrain but well worth the extra effort. The trail's namesake blooms in late June and early July. The remains of the homestead of Thomas Neel, a revolutionary war veteran, is along this trail.

The Pine Tree Trail is short but also steep and rocky as it winds its way down to Wissler's Run.

The 0.7-mile Five Points Trail is moderately difficult and features rhododendron and views of creek valleys.

The remainder of the trails are either moderate or easy walking.

Holly Trail is 0.5-mile of easy walking and features native holly trees and Christmas ferns.

Fire Trail is a short logging road with a nice stand of poplar trees.

Pawpaw trees can be found along the 0.4-mile, easy walking Spring Trail.

Nature Trail features a nice group of mature hardwood trees and is an easy 0.3-mile walk.

Walk along the short Phites Eddy Trail and imagine what this area was like over a hundred years ago when loggers, ate, drank, and slept at the Phites Eddy Inn along the river.

The 0.6-mile Landis Trail was named for Lester Landis, the one time owner of the historical Landis House across from the park office. This trail features a fine stand of Virginia bluebells that bloom in late April and early May.

Pipeline Trail is an easy 0.24-mile walk on the old, abandoned gas pipeline right-of-way that crosses the park.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews


Area Campgrounds

Allegheny River Campground
1737 Route 6 West
Roulette, PA
814-544-8844


Area Cabins and Lodges
Scanlan NW Lodge
Crosby, PA
(814) 887-2375


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USA Parks
Pennsylvania
North-Central Region
Susquehanna State Forest
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