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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.