Quiet gem in Susquehannock State Park

Bob Stoltzfus has been caring for Susquehannock State Park for a long time, about 27 years.

He’s been a one-man show for most of his career here mowing the grass, caring for the six miles of hiking trails, cleaning the pavilions and restrooms.  And whatever else needs to be done.

But in just 92 days, Stoltzfus will retire to his York County home and leave the Lancaster County state park in someone else’s care.  His new boss will have to find a replacement.

big rock tonemappedThe park is a quietly used 225 acres on the Susquehanna River. Most visitors come here for Hawk Point and Wisslers Run overlooks. Both give wide-angle views of the river and include the Conowingo Pond and Peach Bottom nuclear power plant to the south and the Norman Wood Bridge and the Holtwood Dam to the north.

The park is used slightly and managed only one-tenth of some of the more popular state parks like Ricketts Glen or Ohiopyle. Stoltzfus sees this as a ‘positive’.

“It’s a good thing for people who want to get away from the crowds,” he says. “We’re more ‘woodsey’ than most parks that are all mowed and grassy.”

On a recent weekday visit, only one vehicle was parked here.

Although the park has group camping, two baseball fields, two playgrounds and two pavilions, most people visit for the overlooks. Some trails lead down to Wisslers Run and nearly river level, making them a steep challenge.

vulture bridgeThe Rhododendron Trail is rocky, fairly steep and narrow, others like the Nature Trail are level and an easy walk.  All trails will become colorful palettes in the autumn, with poplar and maple trees turned brilliant yellow.  In early summer, the Rhododendron Trail is loaded with its namesake flowers. All year long, moss and lichen add color to the walk.

Some trails allow horses.

The Rhododendron Trail begins just behind the Long House. The old stone home greets visitors just beyond the park entrance.  Built entirely of local stone (if you walk the trails, you’ll understand where the rocks came from), the house was officially built in 1850, but some experts suggest it was built a century earlier.

The house sits next to the park office and restrooms. Behind is the group camping area, which can host up to 300 group campers. Across the street is a wide open field with swings and playground equipment.

blue bird houseThroughout the open field,  dozens of bluebirds tend to their nest boxes.

The park is administered from Sam Lewis State Park near Wrightsville and its new manager, Lee Dillon. Included is Pinnacle Overlook in Lancaster County and Urey Overlook in York County.

From the Department of Conservation and National Resources press release— “In a Bureau of State Parks career marked by strong enthusiasm, qualifications, and professional background, Lee Dillon has progressed from serving as a ranger to taking over the reins of a park complex that captures the sprawling, serpentine beauty of the Lower Susquehanna Valley,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “His appointment can only enhance visitor experiences at the four major tracts Lee now will oversee.”

Stoltzfus has just about three months to ‘break in’ his new boss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four properties along the scenic Lower Susquehanna River comprise the Susquehannock State Park Complex. The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park i

​Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the appointment of Lee Dillon as manager of the Susquehannock State Park Complex along the Lancaster-York county line.

“In a Bureau of State Parks career marked by strong enthusiasm, qualifications, and professional background, Lee has progressed from serving as a ranger to taking over the reins of a park complex that captures the sprawling, serpentine beauty of the Lower Susquehanna Valley,” Dunn said. “His appointment can only enhance visitor experiences at the four major tracts Lee now will oversee.”

Dillon was named to head the state park complex operations after serving one season as a park ranger at Presque Isle State Park in Erie County, and four seasons at Moraine State Park, Butler County. He was selected for the bureau’s manager training program in 2017.

At the Susquehannock complex, Dillon will oversee the 224-acre Susquehannock State Park in Lancaster County and the 85-acre Samuel S. Lewis State Park, York County. The nearby Pinnacle and Urey overlooks also will be under his direction.

2017

Ohiopyle 1,235,000

Ricketts Glen 508,000

Susquehannock  56,000

 

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