Trails Collective

Your Trail: Susquehanna River Trails of Columbia and Wrightsville, PA

Sunrise at Highpoint Park along the Mason Dixon Trail Photo Credit Grayce Langheine

With a historic bridge connecting the two towns, the Conestoga Cowboys roaming the region, and a grass roots feel to make you fall in love with the sport of trail running, this month we showcase the trails along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania! In the spirit of being “connected by trails” we will hop on the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge to check out the trails on both sides of the river!

Runners taking a quick break on the Mason-Dixon Trail and Peavine Island by Lock 12- Norman Wood Bridge

The area is steeped in history and the trail scene here is no different with many of the best “events” being called “challenges” instead and having been around long before trail running boomed nationally.  Often lacking websites, or registrations, folks just show up, bring some drinks and snacks, and get after it together. There are many local legends in the area who don’t really care about GPS, strava, FKT’s and big timed races, they just pile on mile after mile because they love it. With a “you gotta be here to know about it” kind of charm, the locals will only share if you ask, so ask we did, and got some great information about where to run, eat, play, and more.

The “You need to run this” trail:” The Mason Dixon Trail – With varied terrain, the history, the views and overlooks of the Susquehanna River along with hundreds of miles of trail that literally follows the Mason-Dixon line for a bit our go to trail is the MDT. Grayce Langheine is the female FKT holder for the 200 mile trek (4 days 12 hours 59 minutes) and told us she loves the variety and sense of adventure out there – Something for everyone is how she talks about the trail
*Honorable Mention to the Conestoga Trail (see below for details)

Descending from The Pinnacle on the Conestoga Photo Credit Grayce Langheine

Other noteworthy trails: 

The northwest river trail – All paved and it runs through some cute towns along the way.

Enola Low -This is a rail trail being completed this month with 30 miles of crushed gravel trail including a 140 foot high trestle bridge with a see through floor!

Turkey hill trail- Turkey hill ice cream is made here – Climb the hill and check out the giant windmill.

Conestoga trail –  A big contender to the Mason Dixon trail it comes in at about 63 miles with something for everyone

Wind cave Trail – This moderate trail will take you to the largest tectonic cave in the northeast -You can enter and explore (do some research ahead of time) The cave stays 75 degrees year round.

Best Race/Event: The Mason Dixon Longest Day (100k) and Shortest day (50k) events – This is an old school event, or as they are called here challenges -The goal of each day is to beat the sunset. Runners must get from the start to  finish between sunrise and sunset. 

Trail Event Companies: 

RunPA started as an apparel company and has recently been putting on races 

Lancaster Road Runners – Group runs, races and more

The York Ridge Runners – Always up to something fun

The amount of old school, affordable and free events and challenges is the biggest feature in town!

Best FKT to chase: The Mason Dixon Trail (200 miles) and The Conestoga Trail (63 miles) are perhaps the most well known in the area. 

Local Trail Media: The Conestoga Cowboys youtube channel is a hit locally – Check it here: https://www.youtube.com/c/ConestogaCowboys/videos

Lodging – While a little lesser known to trail runners – the area boasts a large number of hotels, inns, bed and breakfast and more. You should have no trouble finding a room in town or camping at the local grounds!

What to do instead of running? Kayak the river or check out the Turkey Hill Experience to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Good Eats N’ Drinks-  Hell In A Bucket Brewing- Is right across the street from the Mason Dixon trail. Check in for some Grateful Dead Vibes and good drinks – Hungry post run?  Head over to the Burning Bridge Tavern for some BBQ and live music!

Bringing it all together:  The area is proud of their history and homegrown events, with people who love to tell stories of local lore, but more often than not will say “Ya gotta visit to really learn about it”.  If you are a history buff, ice cream lover or just  want to run trails that have been important for generations while getting that grassroots feeling in your soul, you really need to get over to the Susquehanna and get your shoes a little dirty near the river!

Don’t live in a trail town and want to build one, check some advice here: https://www.trailrunnermag.com/training/trail-tips-training/building-a-trail-town-from-scratch

Want your town highlighted? Suggestions can be sent to Eric at TrailsRoc@Gmail.com

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