Penndel Trail/Mason-Dixon Trail in PA

Penndel/Mason-Dixon Trail in the White Clay Creek Preserve in PA is a hike I had planned for my HLAW local group (come hike with me) but everyone had something else to do so I did it anyways.

Why not?

I like solo hiking, I can travel at my own pace and I can explore more of this unique area since I’ve never hiked here before.

It was one of those days where one minute the sun was shinning and the next it looked like it would rain any minute but despite that I went anyways, I just made sure I had my rain gear with just in case.

After doing my errands for the day I started out for the trail head but took a wrong turn as usual and back tracked a few times until I finally made it to the trail head at about 2 pm.

It was still looking stormy, and I hesitated for a moment whether to go or not. Rain usually doesn’t keep me from hiking but thunder and lightening does. I decided I would do a short loop around so if the weather did turn bad I wouldn’t be to far form the care so I threw my raincoat into my already full day pack and took off down the trail.

From parking lot # 2 I headed straight a short distance and than turned right onto the Penndel Trail which is also the Mason Dixon Trail.

The Trail follows the White Clay creek bearing right for a short distance to a plowed field to my right and wildflowers to my left.

Woo Hoo, that’s why I was here, to find Wildflowers! I saw white, blue and purple wildflowers. I also was immediately hit with the sweet smell of honeysuckles. Love this smell and honeysuckles everywhere!

Wildflowers I found at White clay Creek Preserve

Wildflowers I found at White clay Creek Preserve

The trail winds back toward the creek and here I spotted a man down by the creek sitting on a bench reading a book as the sound of rippling water played in the background. I thought to myself, “What a cool place to come and journal or draw”.

The trail continues following the creek for about a 1 mile. Lots of puddles along this part of the trail which made for cool reflection pictures (see below) I crossed a wooden slanted bridge which lead to another bridge and up a the stairs to a trail junction.

Reflections in the puddles along the Penndel Trail

Cool reflections in all the muddy puddles along the Penndel trail

At the trail junction my plan was to do a quick loop back to my car since it still looked like it might rain at any moment but instead of pulling the map out I turned left thinking to myself “This is the right way, I don’t need to look at my map”.

So instead of doing a quick loop I headed south into the White Clay Creek State Park.

This is still considered the Penndel/Mason Dixon Trail and it is open to horses, hikers and bicycles It’s wide here with a gravel/dirt path but as you get into White Clay Creek State Park the trail becomes narrower. You’re still following the White Clay Creek.

The area was once home to the Newark & Pomeroy Railroad line built in the 1870s but failed in the Great Depression. During WWII the steel was pulled for scrape. You can see remnants of old bridges and railroad grade along this trail.

Remnants of old railroad bridge - Newark & Pomeroy Railroad

Remnants of old railroad bridge – Newark & Pomeroy Railroad

This area was also threaten with construction of a dam which would have flooded this whole area in the 1960s but with the help of Dorothy Miller and a generous donation from the Du Pont family this area was turned into a Preserve, the only Preserve in the state of PA according to the book 50 Hikes in Eastern PA

I’m glad I went the wrong way because it turned out to be a easy hike into White Clay Creek State Park (WCCSP) to the parking lot off Chambers Rock Road.

If you Cross Chambers Rock Road the Penndel/Mason-Dixon Trail continues to the WCCSP Nature Center. The Penndel Trail ends here but the Mason-Dixon Trail continues.

I went as far as Chambers Rock Road before heading back the same way I came.

You could also park at the parking lot at Chambers Rock Road and do the 4 mile loop Tri-State Marker Trail. Read more about this trail here.

I got back to my car and suddenly the sun appeared (it never did rain) so instead of calling it a day I decided to hike just an hour more since I still had plenty of daylight left.

According to the map (yeah this time I looked at the map) if I leave the parking lot heading towards the road I can cross the creek on the road and turn right onto the other side of the creek heading north still following Penndel/Mason Dixon Trail to parking lot # 1.

This is the best part of the preserve in my opinion.

It was quiet, lots of green everywhere, the sound of rushing water, birds singing and I thought I saw a beaver but it was gone before I could snap a photo.

I crossed over 2 wooden bridges and into a land of unusually looking trees and more wildflowers, really pretty back here.

I didn’t go all the way to parking lot # 1 because my hour was up and time to head back to the car before dark.

Here’s a link to the map of the trails in the White Clay Creek Preserve. I’ll be back for sure, lots more exploring to do here.

I felt a connection to nature here and could have stayed here all evening with the wildflowers and the sound of creek water flowing, I even saw a few places that would make great camping spots but no camping here.

Looking up the east branch of the White Clay Creek

Looking up the east branch of the White Clay Creek

Getting out in nature is my way of taking care of me, my “Me Time”

How about you, how does nature make you feel? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

Adventure on!


P.S. I did about 5 miles but I didn’t track any mileage because I have no tracker so any miles I mention is approximate. I am looking at this Tom Tom Tracker over at REI.

Come hike with me! If you live in the Mid Atlantic region here in the Northeast, I lead hiking trips around the region. To join in come over to Facebook and join our private group. Click here for more information –

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