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The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail follows the route of the historic Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, tracing the Susquehanna River northwest from Columbia to Falmouth. The entire trail is paved. In season, cross-country skiers and snowshoers can also enjoy the trail.
The southeast trailhead at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center offers exhibits, restrooms, parking with accessible spaces, drinking water, picnic tables, a bike repair station, and information about the trail and nearby attractions. Columbia River Park has a canoe/kayak launch and a boat launch. Heading north, the route is briefly on-road before transitioning within a mile to the scenic Chickies Rock County Park just north of Columbia. Here, you’ll pass through the abandoned (and allegedly haunted) Point Rock Tunnel, also known as Chickies Rock Tunnel. The unlined 180-foot-long tunnel was blasted through solid rock when it was built in the 1850s for the Pennsylvania Railroad. A mile from the tunnel, you may see rock climbers scaling the craggy face of Chickies Rock via the 0.5-mile Chickies Rock Overlook Trail.
Curving northwest, the trail crosses over Chiques Creek before continuing along Furnace Road, which was recently repaved and has a dedicated bike lane. The Marietta Iron Furnace Park Trailhead (29 Furnace Rd, Marietta) has a parking lot and seasonal restrooms. Briefly paralleling Donegal Place and East Front Street, this portion of the trail is now an off-road paved path. At South Banks Street, the route crosses railroad tracks and turns south before curving west to follow along the Susquehanna River. For information on fishing in this area, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Following the river through Marietta, the trail has several trailheads and passes a number of parks with a variety of amenities and facilities. The Chestnut Street Park (301 E Front St, Marietta) has a canoe/kayak launch and picnic tables. The Decatur Street Trailhead has picnic tables, seasonal restrooms, a canoe/kayak launch, a parking lot with accessible spaces, a bike repair station. Heading through the outskirts of Marietta, the route becomes straighter and occasionally leaves the tree cover to travel through open cornfields.
The East Donegal Riverfront Park (551 Vinegar Ferry Rd, Marietta) offers covered picnic tables and a great view of the Susquehanna River. It also has seasonal restrooms, a canoe/kayak launch, a boat launch, a parking lot with accessible spaces, and a bike repair station. Passing under the brick-arch Shocks Mill Bridge of the Norfolk Southern Railway, the route winds alongside the White Cliffs of Conoy. This unique landmark was formed over time by the waste products of a limestone quarry, creating a hilly area of limestone “cliffs” on the shores of the Susquehanna.
Following the river northwest through Bainbridge, the trail passes Koser Park (107 Race St, Bainbridge) which has seasonal restrooms and picnic tables, as well as the Bainbridge Public Boat Launch (233 N Front St, Bainbridge). The trail is sheltered by trees for much of the route and there are a few more trailheads along the way. The Prescot Road Trailhead has picnic tables, seasonal restrooms, a boat launch, and a parking lot with accessible spaces. The King’s Road Trailhead has a parking lot and a boat launch.
The trail's northern endpoint (6 Collins Rd, Bainbridge) is by the Falmouth Boat Launch and the Fisherman’s Wharf Trail. The Conoy Wetlands Nature Preserve and Falmouth Forest Garden are additional attractions.
Parking is available at the northern end of the trail (6 Collins Rd, Bainbridge), at multiple locations along the route, and at a trailhead near the southern end (157 N Front St, Columbia). Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
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