From historic railroad bridges to horseback riding, York County's 11 parks include a variety of activities that span more than 4,300 acres.

As warm weather flows into the county, the parks will feature family-friendly events in areas such as a nature center, historic sites and museums.

Francis A. Velazquez, York County Department of Parks and Rec reation's manager of education, said several new activities were added to the upcoming seasonal schedule.

Many of the events are free, such as “creature features,” which uses live specimens of critters, he said.

Also new is a Little Explorers Nature Time at Rocky Ridge, Nixon and Kain parks, he said.

Auggie Weisser of Red Lion, then 9 years old, introduces himself to a blue-tongued skink during Reptile Week in 2011 at Richard M. Nixon County Park. The
Auggie Weisser of Red Lion, then 9 years old, introduces himself to a blue-tongued skink during Reptile Week in 2011 at Richard M. Nixon County Park. The popular program will be featured at the park again this year. (WEEKLY RECORD FILE)

“They have three very different habitats that we'll be looking at,” he said of the activities that will be led by naturalists who will answer questions and provide information. The event is not stroller-friendly, he said.

One of the park system's larger events includes a reenactment of the prelude to the Battle of Gettysburg, Velazquez said.

“We're reenacting the Civil War raiding of the Hanover Junction Station,” he said.

Another new event will take participants from York County to Annapolis to study the Chesapeake Bay, Velazquez said.

“It will all be done with Chesapeake Bay naturalists leading it,” he said. “It's a great way to get the family and kids out to unplug (and) enjoy the outdoors.”

Some former family favorites will return to the parks this year, he said of activities such as Reptile Week — an annual look at live snakes and other creatures from the local area and foreign countries, he said.

About the parks

 

APOLLO COUNTY PARK, 4925 Boyd Road, Chanceford Township, covers nearly 350 acres with streams, hemlock trees and mountain laurel. The park permits fishing and includes trails for horseback riding and mountain biking.

HERITAGE RAIL TRAIL COUNTY PARK includes a compacted stone multi-use path that covers more than 20 miles through nearly a dozen municipalities between northern Maryland and downtown York. Historic sites along the trail include the Hanover Junction Train Station, railroad bridges and the Howard Tunnel.

HIGHPOINT SCENIC VISTA & RECREATION AREA, 1199 Hilts Road, Lower Windsor Township, includes 79 acres of fields atop a hill that overlooks the Susquehanna River. Highpoint features multipurpose trails and picnic tables.

JOHN C. RUDY COUNTY PARK, 400 Mundis Race Road, East Manchester Township, covers more than 140 acres and includes a cross-country running trail, an off-leash dog park, a BMX track, pavilions, an observatory, volleyball courts, sports fields and open recreational space.

NATIVE LANDS COUNTY PARK, 1664 Long Level Road, Lower Windsor Township, is adjacent to Safe Harbor Water Power Corp.'s Kline's Run Park along the Susquehanna River. The park includes a trail, which follows a portion of the Mason-Dixon Trail, and a series of posts that provide historic information and scenic views.

P. JOSEPH RAAB COUNTY PARK, 2600 Hoff Road, North Codorus Township, covers more than 70 acres on the former York Iron Co. mine site, which is a hibernation spot for several species of bats in the winter. The park includes more than a mile of walking trails.

RICHARD M. NIXON COUNTY PARK, 5922 Nixon Drive, Springfield Township, features a 14,000-square-feet nature center with more than 180 specimens from 15 countries. The park covers 187 acres of meadow and woodland, and holds regular events and activities.

ROCKY RIDGE PARK, 400 Deininger Road, Springettsbury and Hellam townships, covers roughly 750 acres and includes trails, picnic pavilions, a softball field, volleyball court and scenic observation deck.

SPRING VALLEY COUNTY PARK in Shrewsbury, Springfield and North Hopewell townships includes more than 800 acres of agricultural fields and forest with trails open to horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers. The park also features a dog-training area, fishing and pavilion.

WALLACE-CROSS MILL HISTORIC SITE, 15759 Cross Mill Road, East Hopewell Township, dates to the early 1800s and was in operation until the 1980s. The mill, originally powered by a wooden wheel, includes exhibits, hosts demonstrations and open houses with tours.

WILLIAM H. KAIN COUNTY PARK, 274 Hess Farm Road, Springfield Township, was established in the mid-1970s, includes over 1,600 acres and two lakes that offer fishing and boating. The park also includes horseshoe pits, a playground, a radio-controlled airplane landing strip and pavilions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit www.yorkcountyparks.org or call 717-840-7440.

 

Events

 

-- Creature Feature at Nixon Park, 11 to 11:30 a.m. June 11, 18; July 9, 16, 23, 30 and Aug. 6. Staff and volunteers will use props and live specimens to explain the natural history, be havior and needs of a different creature each week.

-- Little Explorers Nature Time, 11 a.m. to noon June 13, 20 and 27 at Rocky Ridge Park in the Oak Timbers Picnic Area; July 11, 18 and 25 at Nixon Park; and Aug. 1 and 8 at Kain Park in the Iron Stone Hill Road Parking lot. Young children and their families are invited to explore habitats and make discoveries together with the help of park naturalist Amber Carothers. All ages are welcome. Strollers are not recommended.

· Civil War Re-enactment activities, noon to 4 p.m. June 22 on the Rail Trail at Hanover Junction Train Station. The re-enactment begins at 2 p.m. and will feature the Battle of Hanover Junction that occurred on June 27, 1863. Participants may tour the museum, which will include special exhibits and entertainment. Handicapped parking is available at the station. Other parking will be available at the Seven Valleys Fire Company and Mercury Electronics on Green Valley Road, where a shuttle bus will transport visitors to the site.

-- Reptile Week at Nixon Park, 8 a.m. to dusk June 29 to July 7. The annual herpetology week will explain the nature of reptiles, include live specimens, programs, information and ex perts available to answer questions. Visitors are not allowed to bring pets to the event. Cost is $2; free for children 5 and younger and for park members with a membership card.

 -- Stream Team at Nixon Park, 10:30 a.m. to noon July 10, 17 and 31. Park workers will lead a stream exploration that will cause as little disturbance to stream habitats as possible. Parti cipants should bring an extra pair of water shoes or old sneakers. Equipment will be provided.

 -- Wildflower walks at Gifford Pinchot State Park, 1 p.m. Saturday and April 27. Park volunteers and wildflower enthusiasts will lead the easy to moderate walks, identifying the spring blossoms and sharing tidbits of interest about them. Participants will meet in the Conewago Day Use area, in the parking area near Pavilion 2 (Sunnyside Pavilion). The walks are for those 10 and older. Wear sturdy footwear and bring bottled water. Registration is not necessary. For de tails, call 717-432-5011 or visit www.VisitPAParks.com.

--Chesapeake Bay Exploration, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 19. Chesapeake Bay Founda tion experts will discuss the bay at the Annapolis campus. The event will feature canoeing on a tributary creek and in the bay at a private beach. Participants will be taught about various bay wildlife, plants and habitats. The program is limited to children who completed third grade and older, with an adult chaperone. Space is limited. To register, call 717-428-1961. The trip departs from Nixon Park. Cost is $8 for park members; $12 for nonmembers.