Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
292.00 ft (89.00 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
2.40 mi (3.86 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Anyone who enjoys the delicate beauty of wildflowers should plan an adventure to Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve. Located in Lancaster County, near the Susquehanna River in southeastern Pennsylvania, the over 90 acre preserve boasts more than 70 species of wildflowers.

Depending upon blooming times, adventurers may be treated to a variety of beautiful wildflowers adorning the forest floor. Visit when the Virginia bluebells are bursting in bloom and the brilliant shades of the bluebells will show prominently in the woods of the preserve. The bluebells grow abundantly en masse covering vast areas of hillside with showy blue blossoms. Yet, other wildflowers are tiny with a single blossom and will be spotted only by keen observers. Like a treasure hunt, hikers should be sure to look carefully on both sides of the trail since a mixture of flowers may be blooming simultaneously. Red columbine, lavender Woodland phlox, Yellow trout lily, light pink Wild geranium and several colors of violets, including the Smooth yellow violet, add their colorful blooms to the variety of wildflowers hikers may see along the trail.

Many uniquely-shaped wildflowers grow in the preserve including the umbrella-like foliage of the Mayapple, the three petal Susquehanna trillium and the cylindrical, hooded Jack-in-the-pulpit.

The scenic, woodland trail through the preserve offers close-up views of the wildflowers. Some wildflower identification tags are placed among the plants. The wide, mostly smooth trail offers plenty of shade and benches to sit and admire the natural beauty. The path leads along a sheltered ravine cut by Grubb Creek. The trail ends at a picturesque stone tunnel with the creek flowing through it.

For anyone who also enjoys looking for birds, the preserve is home to 50 species of birds, including hawks, indigo bunting, owls, and the pileated woodpecker.

The wildflowers bloom from approximately March through June. Hikers who want to visit during peak flowering season should plan a visit April through May. The Lancaster Conservancy manages Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve and recommends visiting weekdays during the peak wildflower season. Entrance is free, donations to the Lancaster Conservancy are welcomed.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Abundant wildflowers. Well-maintained woodland trail. Flower identification signs.

Cons

Portable toilets.

Trailhead Elevation

189.00 ft (57.61 m)

Highest point

262.00 ft (79.86 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Family friendly
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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