Susquehanna Heritage Area

We invite you to visit the Susquehanna Heritage Area to experience outdoor fun and cultural discovery! The Susquehanna Riverlands, shared by Lancaster and York Counties, is a ribbon of parks, preserves, trails and historic river towns at the heart of the Susquehanna Heritage Area.

Come to the Susquehanna Heritage Area to fish, paddle the river, birdwatch, explore river trails and panoramic overlooks, meander through the cool, historic river towns of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville, learn about American Indians who called this region home, enjoy local beers and wines, go antiquing, dine at or near the river’s edge…the opportunities are endless!

› Explore Susquehanna Heritage website for information, events, and more.

(Photo: Susquehanna River Valley)

Things to See and Do

  • Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

    3417 SPRUCE STREET ROOM 307 Philadelphia PA 19104

    During his carefully documented exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in 1608, Capt. Smith interacted with the Susquehannock Indians at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. Because of this important interaction and because the river is the major contributor of fresh water to the Bay, in 2012 the Susquehanna River and its tributaries were included as part the Capt. John Smith historic trail. The trail focuses on the travels of John Smith, 17th Century American Indian culture and the natural environment reminiscent of that era.

    Be sure to visit the trail’s official Visitor Contact Station at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage to learn about the trail and to stamp your National Park Service Passport.

  • Zimmerman Center for Heritage

    1706 Long Level Road Wrightsville PA 17368

    Susquehanna Heritage offices are located at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage (ZCH), just south of Wrightsville at Long Level, York County. The historic property includes a waterside pavilion, canoe and kayak launch and historic interpretive panels. The ZCH is also a trailhead for Native Lands County Park and the Mason-Dixon Trail. Tours of the house are also available.

    The house sits on property that was originally named “Pleasant Garden” by Thomas Cresap, who was sent to this area in 1730 to collect taxes for Maryland. The actual construction date of the house is unknown, but historians have dated the house to about 1740, after Thomas Cresap departed. Pleasant Garden remained a working farm until the late 1930’s.

  • Wrights Ferry Mansion

    38 S. 2nd Street Columbia PA 17512

    The history of one of the oldest frontier towns is alive and well in this restored 1738 mansion, which interprets the life of early settler, Susanna Wright. The home was originally built for James Wright and his family – members of Columbia’s founding family who settled in the area in 1730 and established a ferry service across the Susquehanna River for westbound pioneers. The pre-Revolutionary War house exemplifies Pennsylvania architecture in the English style and is rumored to have subterranean passageways leading to the Susquehanna River. It is furnished completely with items made before 1750, including needlework, ceramics, glass and other decorative arts. It reflects upon the life of an 18th-century Pennsylvania Quaker household

  • Northwest Lancaster County River Trail

    - - PA 17603

    The Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is a multi-purpose, public recreation trail approximately fourteen miles long, spanning five municipalities at the northwestern edge of Lancaster County and includes land owned by Lancaster County and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority.

    The trail follows the route of the historic Pennsylvania Mainline Canal and uses some of the original towpath that remains along the corridor. This provides ample opportunities to interpret the numerous industrial archaeological remains such as abandoned canal locks; the iron furnaces at Chickies Rock; and the old quarry operation at Billmeyer. The trail also connects the historic river towns and villages of Columbia, Marietta, Bainbridge, and Falmouth.

  • Historic Wrightsville & Museum

    124 Hellam Street Wrightsville PA 17368

    The Burning of the Bridge Diorama, located in Wrightsville and a block from the river, tells the story of the night the Wrightsville bridge was set ablaze in an attempt to block the Confederate soldiers from moving eastward to Lancaster County. Because they were unable to cross the river, the South’s attention turned toward the town of Gettysburg and, thus, altered the Civil War’s outcome. The diorama is managed by Historic Wrightsville.

  • PA Arts Experience Trail

    - - PA 19101

    The Pennsylvania Arts Experience is a non-profit arts organization promoting the arts along the scenic river valleys of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Lower Susquehanna Valley Trail region includes a wide array of contemporary painters, weavers, quilters, printmakers, potters, glassblowers, woodworkers, etc., working in unique and spectacular studios located in renovated barns or adaptively reused buildings in the small towns along the way. In addition to offering museums, galleries and studios with public hours, the PAE Artist Trail features exclusive “behind-the- scenes” tours of many of these artists’ studios not usually open to the public, allowing the visitor to interact with the artists and gain insight into their creative process, as well as providing the opportunity to help support the artists’ creative work through the direct purchase of original works of art.

  • Shank's Mare Outfitters Paddle Tours

    2092 Long Level Road Wrightsville PA 17368

    Originally an 1890’s era general store building located on the banks of the Susquehanna River, today, this unique structure houses all things needed to go play outside! Shank’s Mare sells a variety of outdoor equipment and clothing, in addition to their programs and paddlecraft rentals, tours, and lessons. Shank’s Mare also features a gallery house that offers art and giftware that allow the outdoor lover to bring nature indoors.

  • Columbia Historic Preservation Society & Museum

    19-21 North Second Street Columbia PA 17512

    Located in the original English Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Columbia Historic Preservation Society is dedicated to the preservation of history of Columbia, formerly known as Wright’s Ferry. In addition to offering published articles and books on the town’s history, the museum houses a model train display, artifacts and publications pertaining to the history of this Susquehanna river town.

  • Fourth Fridays in Columbia

    - Columbia PA 17512

    Experience Columbia’s art galleries, antique and specialty shops and local eateries. This self guided tour provides the opportunity to view exhibits from local and visiting artists, enjoy refreshments, and discover the uniqueness of Columbia.

  • National Watch and Clock Museum

    514 Poplar Street Columbia PA 17512

    During the late 19th century, Lancaster County was home to many watch and clock manufacturers and schools. First opened to the public in 1977, the National Watch and Clock Museum features more than 12,000 items and has a library and research center to help visitors learn more about their own timepieces. Chronologically, the exhibits take you on a tour through the entire history of timekeeping technology from early non-mechanical devices to today’s atomic and radio controlled clocks. The Museum also features rotating special exhibits and a variety of special events and programs.

  • Samuel S. Lewis State Park

    Mt. Pisgah Road and Cool Creek Road Wrightsville PA 17368

    Soak in one of the most spectacular views of the Susquehanna River Valley from atop 885-foot Mt. Pisgah, the pinnacle of this 85-acre tribute to the great outdoors. The overlook offers a spectacular view of the Susquehanna River as it winds its way through Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay. The park, named for a long-time state cabinet member, also features open fields, playgrounds and picnic and hiking areas and excellent opportunities for kite flyers and star gazers.”

  • Susquehannock State Park

    1880 Park Drive Drumore PA 17518

    Enjoy an incredible view of the Susquehanna River while exploring the history of the Susquehannocks from this 224 acre State Park, which also offers a variety of recreational activities year round. “Captain John Smith explored near this part of the Susquehanna River not far from Havre de Grace, Md., and the Pennsylvania state line. He wrote in his journals that he found the river beautiful but not navigable for large ships. There are five miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Take a picnic basket, stop at one of the pavilions or at the overlook and soak in the view

  • Susquehanna River Water Trail

    - Susquehanna PA 18847

    The Susquehanna River Water Trail – Lower Section, is a 53-mile water trail, managed by the Susquehanna Heritage Area and is designated as a National Recreation Trail. There are over 30 access points along the water trail. A map and guide is available.

  • Mason-Dixon Trail

    - - PA 17361

    The Mason Dixon Trail connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail. This 193-mile long trail starts at Whiskey Springs, on the Appalachian Trail, in Cumberland County, PA and heads east towards the Susquehanna River, passing through Pinchot State Park en route. The trail then follows the west bank of the Susquehanna south to Havre de Grace in Maryland. A map of the Mason Dixon Trail is available.

  • Highpoint Scenic Vista and Recreation Area

    Trinity Church Road and Hilt Road Wrightsville PA 17368

    Scenic bluffs frame river valleys where wildflowers bloom in narrow ravines. And the Highpoint Scenic Vista & Recreation Area, part of the new Susquehanna Heritage Park, provides a panoramic place for both outdoor recreation & quiet reflection. A half-mile trail which is ADA accessible leads you to the top.

  • Turkey Hill Experience

    301 Linden Street Columbia PA 17512

    The Turkey Hill Experience pays homage to Turkey Hill’s history while highlighting its ice cream and iced tea-making processes. The Experience includes interactive exhibits, a café, a gift shop, and lots of other fun things for the entire family!   The Turkey HIll Experience is located in the newly renovated and restored Ashley & Baily Silk Mill.   The Experience also features Heritage Orientation panels are located in the free section which introduce visitors to the unique culture of Susquehanna Region. These panels were previously designed by SGHA and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Turkey Hill to repurpose the panel information for this exhibit. The panels include information on Native Americans, Early Settlers, the Underground Railroad, River Towns, Ingenuity, Natural Wonders, and Harnessing the River.

  • Susquehanna Riverlands Auto Tours

    - Susquehanna PA 18847

    As you travel the roads along the Lower Susquehanna, SGHA’s river auto tours provide a variety of sightseeing opportunities at the heart of the  Susquehanna Heritage Area, including natural areas, structures, and communities that have been here for generations.

  • Indian Steps Museum

    205 Indian Steps Road Airville PA 17302

    Centuries of Native American culture are celebrated in a fascinating display of 10,000 artifacts imbedded in the walls of this museum. The museum is named after the “steps” carved centuries ago in the nearby (now submerged) Susquehanna River rocks by Native people who used the footholds to fish for shad. In 1912 that York Attorney John E. Vandersloot built the unusual museum which includes a round room or kiva. At this site is also the Indian Steps Access for the 53-mile Lower Susquehanna River Water Trail, managed by the Susquehanna Heritage Area.

Explore Other Regions (Heritage Map)