The Mason Dixon Trail near the Susquehanna River

The Mason Dixon Trail near the Susquehanna River

The Mason Dixon Trail, southeast York County

The Mason Dixon Trail begins in Chadds Ford, PA, and travels 199 miles to meet the Appalachian Trail at Whiskey Springs Road, near Boiling Springs, PA.  The trail progresses northbound along the west bank of the Susquehanna River for 65 miles, passing the Holtwood Dam and Otter Creek Family Campground in Airville and Long Level in Wrightsville.

The beautiful Mill Creek Falls are easily seen from the Mason Dixon Trail.

Holtwood Road toward Posey Road

I enjoyed hiking this trail so much that we have repeated the trek quite a few times this year.  I love the beautiful waterfalls, the view of the Susquehanna River and the windy narrow and occasionally gnarly pathways.

Historic Lock 12

There are many options for making this hike shorter or longer.  The attached map shows our 6.6 mile hike beginning at the first parking area near the Holtwood (Route 372) and River Road intersection, near the Norman Wood Bridge.  From the parking lot, take the paved steps and pathway to a wooden bridge that passes by the walls that were once Lock 12.  The flat pathway borders the Susquehanna River for .8 mile and then crosses the gravel River Road.  There are a few parking spaces along the road in this area, therefore one way to shorten the distance is to eliminate the first mile of the hike.

Beautiful creek of small waterfalls tumbling downhill
Magical Mill Creek Falls

The trail travels uphill for .6 mile, leveling out at 507′ above sea level.  This is one of the most beautiful sections of the hike since the Mill Creek Falls tumble along the left side of the trail.  The trail is gentle and wide, with few rocks on the first half mile section.  As the path turns to the right and follows another section of the creek, the incline becomes more prominent.  The trail is rocky and increases elevation via switch backs.  At the top of the hill, the Susquehanna River and the Holtwood Dam are visible from a rock outcropping.

A reddish brown labrador-hound poses on a large rock, the river and dam are in the distance.
#FaiththeDog poses on a rocky outcropping that overlooks the Holtwood Dam and Susquehanna River.

The trail continues downhill .4 mile and meets River Road near the Dam.  At this point, you can either turn right to return to your start point or turn left to continue north on the Mason Dixon Trail 2.2 miles to East Posey Road.  From the Dam, the Mason Dixon Trail travels .4 miles along the gravel road and then returns to a dirt and rock pathway through the woods.  The Oakland Run, a creek that runs along a the trail, provides a lovely landscape for the hike.

Oakland Run creek creates lovely water falls and blue green pools along the Mason Dixon Trail.

Map – Mason Dixon Trail – Lock 12 to Oakland Run (Out and Back Hike) – 6.6 miles

Map – Mason Dixon Mill Creek Falls Loop – 2.1 miles

Urey Overlook and Otter Creek Loop

There are many hiking options in this area, therefore check the trail map links below to make a plan.  The route that we chose got quite gnarly at the 3.5 mile mark because the Red Trail that we were following disappeared due to hurricane damage several years prior.  We bushwhacked our way and reconnected to the Mason Dixon Trail to return to our vehicle.

A narrow smooth past between stark winter trees marked with blue and yellow paint blazes
The blue Mason Dixon and the yellow trail near Urey Overlook

The loop begins in the parking area on Furnace Road (Route 425), Airville, PA and progresses eastward to the Urey Overlook, a distance of .4 miles.  This portion of the hike is the Mason Dixon trail and is marked with a blue blaze on the trees.  From Urey Overlook, the trail is downhill .6 mile, weaving back and forth on switchbacks.

A bright blue sky, white puffy clouds and a gray wide river.
The view of the Susquehanna River from Urey Overlook

When the blue trail intersects with the yellow, take the left, southward route and walk .4 mile to Furnace Road.  Cross the road, enter the Otter Creek Campground and walk to the end of the driving path.

A narrow road through wooden campground buildings
The roadway through Otter Creek Campground

Near the water tower, join the green trail and continue 2 miles to the creek.  At this point you can either continue right on the green trail and return to the Campground, or follow our crazy route on a washed out red trail. To bushwhack through, follow open ground space to the creek and make your way across at a section that has a log bridge.  If you are unsure about walking on the log, you can always crawl or sit and shimmy along the tree.

After crossing the creek, look for the familiar blue blazes of the Mason Dixon Trail, turning left to head northbound.  Cross Furnace Road and continue on the blue and yellow marked section for .2 miles.  At the yellow and blue trail intersection, turn left to blue and walk .9 mile on the section that started the hike.

Blue paint on a leafless tree
The Mason Dixon Trail blue blaze

Download the map via Avenza Map App

Map – Mason Dixon Otter Creek Loop

 

Love waterfalls?  Consider visiting Yosemite National Park to see some incredible works of nature.  Chasing waterfalls in Yosemite

One Reply to “The Mason Dixon Trail near the Susquehanna River”

  1. this place looks neat. my sister and I want to visit. my mother was raised near her with her Aunt Daisy and Uncle Harry

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