Mason-Dixon Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Mason-Dixon Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 30 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Mason-Dixon Trail is a long-distance footpath that stretches approximately 200 miles from the Brandywine Creek in Delaware to the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The trail takes its name from the famous Mason-Dixon Line, which was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 to settle a border dispute between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Mason-Dixon Line became a significant boundary in American history, separating the Northern and Southern states during the Civil War era.

The idea for the Mason-Dixon Trail was conceived in the early 1970s by a group of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who wanted to create a scenic trail that would traverse the diverse landscapes of Pennsylvania and Delaware. The trail was officially established in 1974 and has since become a popular destination for hikers, nature lovers, and history enthusiasts.

Throughout its course, the Mason-Dixon Trail passes through a variety of historical sites and landmarks. Hikers can explore remnants of the region’s colonial past, including old stone houses, mills, and farmsteads. The trail also crosses several Revolutionary War battlefields, such as the Brandywine Battlefield in Pennsylvania, where the largest battle of the war was fought in 1777. Additionally, the trail meanders through areas that played a significant role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape to freedom in the North.

The Mason-Dixon Trail offers a unique opportunity to experience both the natural beauty and rich history of the region. As hikers traverse its path, they can immerse themselves in the stories and events that have shaped the area, gaining a deeper understanding of the historical significance of the Mason-Dixon Line and its impact on American history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Whiskey Springs Road Trailhead – Located in York County, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the southernmost section of the Mason-Dixon Trail.

2. Otter Creek Campground Trailhead – Situated in Airville, Pennsylvania, this trailhead offers access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it follows the scenic Otter Creek.

3. Holtwood Dam Trailhead – Located near Holtwood, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the Susquehannock State Park and crosses the Susquehanna River.

4. Lock 12 Historic Area Trailhead – Situated in Lower Chanceford Township, Pennsylvania, this trailhead offers access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the historic Lock 12 area along the Susquehanna River.

5. Gifford Pinchot State Park Trailhead – Located in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the beautiful Gifford Pinchot State Park.

6. Samuel S. Lewis State Park Trailhead – Situated in York County, Pennsylvania, this trailhead offers access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the scenic Samuel S. Lewis State Park.

7. Holtwood Environmental Preserve Trailhead – Located near Holtwood, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the Holtwood Environmental Preserve and offers stunning views of the Susquehanna River.

8. Conowingo Dam Trailhead – Situated in Conowingo, Maryland, this trailhead offers access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it crosses the Conowingo Dam and continues along the Susquehanna River.

9. Susquehanna State Park Trailhead – Located in Havre de Grace, Maryland, this trailhead provides access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the picturesque Susquehanna State Park.

10. Elk Neck State Park Trailhead – Situated in North East, Maryland, this trailhead offers access to the Mason-Dixon Trail as it passes through the scenic Elk Neck State Park and provides stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay.

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with drivers.
3. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
4. Greyhound – Intercity bus service offering travel to various destinations.
5. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service providing train transportation.
6. BoltBus – Affordable bus service connecting major cities.
7. Megabus – Low-cost bus service with routes across North America.
8. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service for personal transportation.
9. Zipcar – Car-sharing service allowing short-term vehicle rentals.
10. Lime – Electric scooter and bike-sharing service for convenient local travel.


The Mason-Dixon Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Here is a list of amenities available along the trail:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including trailheads, visitor centers, and campgrounds.

2. Parking: Parking areas are provided at trailheads and designated parking lots along the trail. These parking spaces allow visitors to park their vehicles safely while they explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The Mason-Dixon Trail offers designated camping sites for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources. It is advisable to check with the trail authorities or local park offices for specific camping regulations and availability.

4. Picnic Areas: Scattered throughout the trail, there are designated picnic areas where visitors can take a break, enjoy a meal, or simply relax amidst nature. These areas often have picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles.

5. Water Sources: The trail provides access to water sources, such as streams, rivers, and lakes, where visitors can refill their water bottles or filter water for drinking. It is recommended to carry a water filtration system or purification tablets for safe consumption.

6. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, you may find additional amenities such as information boards, maps, interpretive signage, and sometimes even visitor centers. These facilities can provide valuable information about the trail, its history, and any specific guidelines or regulations.

7. Scenic Overlooks: The Mason-Dixon Trail offers numerous scenic overlooks along its route. These viewpoints provide breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscapes, including valleys, rivers, forests, and mountains.

8. Wildlife Viewing Areas: As the trail traverses diverse ecosystems, there are often designated areas where visitors can observe wildlife in their natural habitats. These areas may have observation platforms or signage to guide visitors.

9. Interpretive Trails: Some sections of the Mason-Dixon Trail feature interpretive trails, which provide educational information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or historical significance. These trails often have informative signage or brochures.

10. Trail Markers: The trail is marked with blazes or trail markers to ensure visitors stay on the designated path. These markers help hikers navigate the trail and prevent them from getting lost.

It is important to note that specific amenities may vary depending on the section of the trail and the surrounding park or protected area. It is advisable to research the specific amenities available at the desired section of the Mason-Dixon Trail or contact local park authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Susquehanna Manor Inn – Charming bed and breakfast with river views.
– Red Roof Inn York – Affordable hotel with comfortable rooms.
– Hampton Inn Shrewsbury – Modern hotel with complimentary breakfast and amenities.
– Jackson House Bed and Breakfast – Historic inn offering cozy rooms and a warm atmosphere.

2. Food Services:
– John Wright Restaurant – Riverside eatery serving American cuisine.
– The Accomac Inn – Elegant dining experience with a seasonal menu.
– The Left Bank Restaurant & Bar – Upscale spot offering New American dishes.
– The First Post – Casual pub serving comfort food and craft beers.

3. Emergency Services:
– York Hospital – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care.
– Southern Regional Police Department – Local law enforcement agency.
– Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company – Fire and rescue services for the area.
– York County 911 – Emergency dispatch center for immediate assistance.

Mason-Dixon Trail Difficulty Notes

The Mason-Dixon Trail presents a moderate level of difficulty, making it suitable for hikers with some experience and a reasonable level of fitness. Spanning approximately 200 miles, the trail traverses diverse terrains, including rolling hills, rocky sections, and occasional steep ascents and descents. While there are no significant mountain ranges to conquer, the trail does require endurance and stamina, as well as the ability to navigate through various types of terrain. Hikers should be prepared for occasional stream crossings and muddy sections, particularly after rainfall. Overall, the Mason-Dixon Trail offers a rewarding challenge for those seeking a multi-day hiking adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Mason-Dixon Trail is a long-distance hiking trail that stretches approximately 200 miles from the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania to the Brandywine Trail in Delaware. Along this trail, you can find various scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Mason-Dixon Trail:

1. Susquehanna River: The trail follows the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding landscapes.

2. Holtwood Dam: Located on the Susquehanna River, the Holtwood Dam is an impressive structure that provides hydroelectric power. The trail passes near this landmark.

3. Kelly’s Run Nature Preserve: This natural area features scenic waterfalls, rock formations, and lush forests. It is a popular spot for hiking and photography.

4. Pinnacle Overlook: Offering panoramic views of the Susquehanna River and surrounding valleys, the Pinnacle Overlook is a must-visit scenic spot along the trail.

5. Chickies Rock County Park: This park features stunning views of the Susquehanna River and the surrounding countryside. It is a great place for hiking and birdwatching.

6. Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge: This historic bridge spans the Susquehanna River and connects the towns of Wrightsville and Columbia. It offers picturesque views of the river and the surrounding area.

7. Conestoga River: The trail crosses the Conestoga River, providing opportunities for scenic views and wildlife spotting.

8. Lancaster County farmland: As the trail passes through Lancaster County, hikers can enjoy the picturesque landscapes of rolling farmland, Amish communities, and charming rural scenery.

9. Brandywine Creek State Park: Towards the end of the trail in Delaware, Brandywine Creek State Park offers beautiful natural scenery, including forests, meadows, and the Brandywine Creek.

10. Hagley Museum and Library: Located near the trail’s end, the Hagley Museum and Library is a historic site that showcases the early industrial history of the Brandywine Valley.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can encounter along the Mason-Dixon Trail. Exploring the trail will provide you with a diverse range of experiences and opportunities to appreciate the beauty and history of the region.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Respect private property and stay on designated trail sections.
4. No camping or fires along the trail, unless in designated camping areas.
5. Follow all local and state regulations regarding hunting and fishing.
6. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
7. Stay on the marked trail and do not create new paths or shortcuts.
8. Leave no trace – pack out all trash and litter.
9. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
10. Observe seasonal restrictions, such as closures during hunting seasons or extreme weather conditions.
11. Be prepared and carry necessary supplies, including water, food, and appropriate clothing.
12. Practice trail etiquette and yield to hikers going uphill.
13. Be aware of and respect other trail users, including hikers, runners, and birdwatchers.
14. Do not damage or remove any plants, rocks, or natural features along the trail.
15. Report any trail maintenance issues or concerns to the appropriate authorities or trail organizations.

Seasonal Information

The Mason-Dixon Trail, located in the eastern United States, offers a unique and diverse experience for outdoor enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, the spring and fall seasons are generally considered the most favorable for hiking and exploring the trail.

In the spring, the Mason-Dixon Trail comes alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom and trees regain their lush foliage. The weather is usually mild, making it an ideal time for long hikes and enjoying the scenic beauty of the trail. Additionally, spring brings an abundance of wildlife, including migratory birds, which adds to the overall experience.

Fall is another fantastic time to visit the Mason-Dixon Trail. The trail is transformed into a breathtaking tapestry of red, orange, and yellow hues as the leaves change color. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the absence of bugs and crowds further enhances the experience. Fall also offers the opportunity to witness the migration of various bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

It’s important to note that the Mason-Dixon Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. Some sections of the trail pass through private property, and landowners may close their land during hunting seasons, which typically occur in the late fall and winter. It’s crucial to check with local authorities or trail organizations for any closures or restrictions before planning your visit. Additionally, during the winter months, the trail may become more challenging due to snow and ice, so it’s essential to be prepared with appropriate gear and experience for winter hiking if you choose to visit during this time.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces near trailheads with sufficient space for wheelchair users to enter and exit their vehicles easily.
2. Accessible Trailhead: Trailheads equipped with ramps, smooth surfaces, and accessible amenities such as restrooms and picnic areas.
3. Paved or Hard-Surfaced Trails: Portions of the Mason-Dixon Trail that are paved or have a hard surface, allowing wheelchair users to navigate the trail more easily.
4. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities along the trail that are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, with wider doorways, grab bars, and accessible fixtures.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables, benches, and grills, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor meals and gatherings.
6. Trail Signage: Clear and visible signage along the trail, including braille or tactile signs, to assist visually impaired individuals in navigating the trail.
7. Accessible Camping Facilities: Campgrounds along the Mason-Dixon Trail that offer accessible campsites, restrooms, and other amenities for individuals with disabilities.
8. Trail Information in Alternative Formats: Trail maps, brochures, and other informational materials available in alternative formats such as large print, braille, or electronic formats for individuals with visual impairments.
9. Accessible Viewing Areas: Designated areas along the trail that provide wheelchair users with optimal views of scenic spots, wildlife, or other points of interest.
10. Accessible Water Access Points: Accessible points along the trail where individuals with disabilities can safely access and enjoy bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers.

Safety Information

1. Plan and prepare: Familiarize yourself with the trail, obtain maps, and check weather conditions before embarking on the Mason-Dixon Trail.
2. Hiking in groups: It is recommended to hike with at least one other person for safety and assistance.
3. Inform others: Let someone know your hiking plans, including your expected route and return time.
4. Carry essentials: Bring a first aid kit, sufficient water, food, navigation tools, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.
5. Stay on the trail: Stick to the marked trail to avoid getting lost or trespassing on private property.
6. Wildlife encounters: Be aware of your surroundings, respect wildlife, and keep a safe distance if you encounter any animals.
7. Tick prevention: Wear long sleeves, pants, and use insect repellent to minimize the risk of tick bites.
8. Water safety: Treat water from natural sources before drinking, or carry enough water with you.
9. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and minimize your impact on the environment by following the principles of Leave No Trace.
10. Emergency preparedness: Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures, carry a whistle, and know how to signal for help if needed.
11. Weather awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions and seek shelter if necessary.
12. Trail conditions: Be cautious of uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, and potential hazards along the trail.
13. Respect private property: Stay on public land and respect the rights of private landowners along the trail.
14. Trail closures and restrictions: Stay informed about any trail closures, restrictions, or regulations that may be in place.
15. Physical fitness: Assess your physical abilities and choose a trail section that matches your fitness level.
16. Navigation skills: Carry a map, compass, or GPS device and know how to use them to navigate the trail.
17. Cell phone coverage: Be aware that cell phone coverage may be limited or unavailable in certain areas along the trail.
18. Be cautious of strangers: Use caution when interacting with strangers on the trail and trust your instincts.
19. Time management: Plan your hike to allow for ample daylight hours and avoid hiking in the dark.
20. Enjoy the experience: Take time to appreciate the natural beauty of the Mason-Dixon Trail while prioritizing your safety.

Conservation Notes

The Mason-Dixon Trail, a long-distance footpath spanning approximately 200 miles, is a significant natural resource that traverses diverse landscapes and ecosystems in the eastern United States. In terms of conservation status, the trail is generally well-maintained and protected, thanks to the efforts of various organizations and volunteers dedicated to its preservation.

The conservation status of the Mason-Dixon Trail can be attributed to the establishment of several protected areas along its route. These include state parks, state forests, and other public lands that serve as crucial habitats for a wide range of plant and animal species. These protected areas ensure that the trail remains relatively undisturbed and provide opportunities for visitors to appreciate and learn about the region’s natural heritage.

Furthermore, the Mason-Dixon Trail benefits from the active involvement of conservation organizations and local communities. These groups work tirelessly to maintain the trail, monitor its condition, and address any environmental concerns that may arise. Through regular trail maintenance, erosion control measures, and invasive species management, these efforts contribute to the overall conservation of the trail and its surrounding ecosystems.

Overall, the conservation status of the Mason-Dixon Trail is considered favorable due to the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders. By protecting the trail and its associated natural areas, these conservation initiatives ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and ecological significance of this remarkable footpath.

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