Mason Dixon Trail, Conowingo South to Rock Run

copyright, Peter H. Anderson, Baltimore, MD, Oct, '99


Location. Parallel to the Susquehanna River from the Conowingo Dam to Rock Run in the Susquehanna State Park. ADC Map Page 6, Coord J3 to ADC Map Page 12, Coord F8.

Description.

This is one of the most beautiful hikes I have taken in Harford County.

The Conowingo Dam created a lake which eliminated the natural flood plain and thus hiking upstream of the Dam to Broad Creek requires scrambling over one ridge after another at some distance from the river.

However, this hike is downstream of the Conowingo Dam and thus the trail follows the flood plain and is close to the river. The trail follows the tow path of the Tidewater Canal which was built in the 1840's and was later used for a rail line to transport the materials necessary for constructing the dam in the 1920's. Most of this has been improved as a Maryland Greenway and over the past few years I have noted an increase in both hiking and cycling. The trail is on land owned by the Philadelphia Power Company and the Susquehanna State Park.

All of this hike is through hardwood forest including oak, beech and sycamore. We took this hike a few weeks after Hurricane Floyd and the extensive amount of rain apparently weakened the foundation around the shallow root systems of sycamores and the susequent winds blew them down. Thus, hundreds of downed trees were observed.

Parking is available at the base of the Conowingo Dam which is accessed via Shures Landing Road.

Follow the obvious trail south past two turbines. There are impressive cliffs and boulder strewn areas on the up hill side. At points there is evidence of quarrying for stone, most probably for the banks and locks associated with the canal.

At (0.6) miles the trail crosses a fresh water marsh. On previous hikes I have wandered around to find a pleasant stream with impressive cascades, but this was not possible on this hike due to the number of fallen trees.

There are numerous side trails to the river with pleasant clearings. Some evidence of beaver activity was noted.

At (1.4) miles, the Greenway turns to the west and terminates at the Stafford Road bridge over Deer Creek. This hike is treated in a separate discussion

On this hike, we continued down the peninsula with the Susquehanna to the east and Deer Creek to the west. The Tidewater Canal actually used Deer Creek and then cut across the peninsula and thus the canal was actually raised above normal ground level for a short distance and impressive stone embankments are visible.

At (2.6 miles) the trail crosses Deer Creek on a pedestrian bridge and continues along a narrow spit of land between the river and the former canal. We opted to follow Stafford Road to Rock Run (3.2) miles.

Unfortunately, there is no simple alternate route back to the Dam short of hiking up Stafford Road to Shuresville Road in Darlington and then north along Shuresville to Shures Landing Road.