Conestoga Trail: Pequea Creek to House Rock – Pequea, PA

Down.

Conestoga Trail: Pequea Creek Campground to House Rock– Pequea, Lancaster County, PA
Distance: 6 miles round trip
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: 8 of 10 – some very steep up and downs, including areas
Total score: 10 of 10.

Terrain – Steep hills, not for the faint of heart.

Trailheads –  39° 53.577’N,  76° 21.480’W (Pequea Creek Campground)

Camping – Pequea Creek Campground – family owned campground run by some really nice people.

Directions – 86 Fox Hollow Road, Pequea, PA 17565

Parking – If camping, park at the campground.  Not sure where you would park otherwise, as I’ve always camped when doing this hike.

Standouts – House Rock with a great view of the Susquehanna River and Wind Cave, which you can explore!

Markings – Orange blazes

Nice and bright.

Nice and bright.

Map: pequeatopo

Description: The Conestoga Trail stretches 63 miles through Lancaster County, but we’re going to focus on just a snippit (3 trail miles one way) of the southern part for this hike.  But what a snippet it is.

The hike starts at Pequea Creek Campground, a private campground owned by some really, really nice folks.  We’ve stayed at the group site there many times and it’s great.  Head along Pequea Creek through the Western-most campsites until you see the sign and orange blazes for the Conestoga Trail.  The first part of the trail follows a not-very-improved road past small waterfalls, some beautiful (and entertainingly decorated) homes built up on stilts, and some ruins of homes up on stilts.  It ends after about 0.75 miles at the autobridge.

Heading for the trailhead in the campsite (near the office).

Heading for the trailhead in the campsite (near the office).

Almost there...

Almost there…

Trailhead!  Please respect private property along the trail.

Trailhead! Please respect private property along the trail.

Following the bank of the creek.

Following the bank of the creek.

Nice little waterfalls.

Nice little waterfalls.

Soon to be ruins (it's been interesting to watch this house tilt more and more over the years).

Soon to be ruins (it’s been interesting to watch this house tilt more and more over the years).

Camouflaged ruins.

Camouflaged ruins.

Stairs to a bath.

Stairs to a bath.

Hi!

Hi!

pequea11
pequea12


pequea13


pequea06

 

Finally arriving at the bridge.

Finally arriving at the bridge.

At this junction, the trail turns left and runs along the road, paralleling the Susquehanna River.  Follow it through town and around the bend in the road.  After the bend in the road, keep your eyes on the right side of the road for where the trail leaves the road and heads into the hills.  It will be just over a half a mile on the road.

Down the road through town.

Down the road through town.

There are some beautiful homes to look at on one side, and glimpses of the river on the other.

There are some beautiful homes to look at on one side, and glimpses of the river on the other.

Roadwalks are fun.

Roadwalks are fun.

Around the turn, almost time to get off the road!

Around the turn, almost time to get off the road!

Once you get off the road, you’ll go down across a small stream, then more or less up, up, and up (with some downs thrown in) until you reach Wind Cave.  This stretch isn’t very challenging, just one foot in front of the other elevation loss and gain.

Down to the creek.

Down to the creek.

Not bad.

Not bad.

Hanging out.

Hanging out.

About normal.

About normal.

pequea24
pequea25

 

Wind Cave!  We made it!

Wind Cave! We made it!

For the moment, we are going to bypass the cave.  Don’t worry, we’re coming back the same way.  Stop by the entrance to cool off it it’s a hot day, then climb up over the cave and keep going.  It gets more challanging from here, steeper ups and downs, some use of your hands to get over rocks, and some fun drops.  You’ll have some up and down before climbing up to the House Rock Overlook, roughly three miles from the start of our hike.

Up and over the entrance.

Up and over the entrance.

JUMP!

JUMP!

Oh, rocks.  We don't see you in South Jersey.

Oh, rocks. We don’t see you in South Jersey.

Planning the best way to proceed.

Planning the best way to proceed.

Making it look easy.

Making it look easy.

Making it look hard.

Making it look hard.

Down.

Down.

More down.

More down.

Somewhere in there was an up... we made it!

Somewhere in there was an up… we made it!

Check out the old graffiti.

Check out the old graffiti.

Nice view too.

Nice view too.

We’ll now turn around and go back the way we came.  When you get back to Wind Cave, strap on your helmet (a bike helmet is fine, no one will make fun of you… much) and go exploring.  It’s a small, relatively safe cave.  Be warned, the only time I went through it thoroughly, we were in there for two hours!  Flashlights are a MUST, it’s very, very (all the way) dark in there!

The front of the cave you can get into without a light... but that won't last long.

The front of the cave you can get into without a light… but that won’t last long.

Courtesy of Paul, who doesn't know I borrowed his picture yet.

Courtesy of Paul, who doesn’t know I borrowed his picture yet.

Courtesy of Paul.

Courtesy of Paul.

Courtesy of Paul.

Courtesy of Paul.

A big ol' map to help you out (the kind folks at Pequea Creek Campground have copies for campers).

A big ol’ map to help you out (the kind folks at Pequea Creek Campground have copies for campers).

When you’ve had enough cave, it’s back to the road, back to the road by the creek, and into the campground.  Conditions permitting, buy ice cream in the camp store and wade into the creek (it was shin deep when we went in.  It can be much deeper depending on recent rainfall).

Overall recommendation:  An overlook, falling apart houses, a big river, and a cave… what doesn’t this hike have?  This is a must do outside of Jersey.

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2 Comments

Filed under Backpacking, Hiking, Outdoors.

2 responses to “Conestoga Trail: Pequea Creek to House Rock – Pequea, PA

  1. Jim Ryan

    Hey — I’ve been meaning to respond to this one…I’m a HUGE fan of the Conestoga Trail! (I sort of think of it as Lancaster County’s answer to the Batona Trail in the Pinelands! 🙂 ) I first discovered the CT about 6 years ago, when I was in Lancaster County Central Park; I had thought this trail was simply another trail in LCCP. But after further investigation, I found out it was just a small section of a larger trail that is the CT. Of course, I knew that I just HAD to see as many sections of the trail as possible! Anyway, before I digress any more (i.e. back to the section you describe here)…I did this hike about 2 years ago; I actually started a little further back, across Route 324 at an old railroad trestle, and followed Pequea Creek from there, past the Martic Forge covered bridge, through the Pequea campground, down Trolley Rd. (past the old houses…I think I remember the one in the picture that’s working its way to falling on the trail!), past the bridge where Route 324 ends (and Pequea Creek spills into the mighty Susquehanna), past Wind Cave and finally to House Rock Vista. I guess I wasn’t quite as brave as you and your hiking buddies though, as I didn’t really venture too far into the cave…but I *did* notice a significant temperature drop (which was excellent, as I had done the hike in early June — when the temp was probably in the mid-80’s or so!)
    Once again, excellent pix (especially Pequea Creek)…brings back excellent memories!

    Have you ever hiked the section in Holtwood (south of Pequea?) More specifically, the section along Kelly’s Run up to Pinnacle Overlook? If not, I would *highly* recommend it! Kelly’s Run is beautiful, as it forms a gorge, with small cascading waterfalls! The CT is combined with the blue-blazed Kelly’s Run trail, and crosses the run several times. Then, the CT breaks off, heading up towards Pinnacle Overlook. (As you put it in another blog…a real “leg-burner”), but well worth the effort! (Of course, one can actually drive up Pinnacle Road directly to the overlook, but what fun is that??) 🙂 The views are even more breathtaking than those from House Rock Vista (not that I’m downplaying HRV mind you!)

    Anyway, my next section I hope to conquer will be the Tucquan Creek/Glen, which is somewhere between HRV and Pinnacle Overlook…perhaps you’ll get out there before me! Anyway, thanks for the description; I *always* love to read other people’s adventures on the CT!

    • Awesome! My Scouts are camping there again in the Spring, I’ll pass along the info about Pinnacle and maybe we’ll do a slightly different section of trail this year (or leave cars to do a shuttle).

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