Susquehannock State Park Trip Report

Campground Overview

Susquehannock State Park is located along the East side of the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County, PA.  The park features a large ball field, a playground, hiking trails, and several scenic overlooks.  The campground has four primitive sites that may be reserved by groups.  There is no fee to access the park for day use.

Parking:  The campsite is accessible for loading/unloading but all vehicles must park in the lot above the field.

Facilities:  A bath house with running water is located approximately 100m from the camping area.   Potable water spigot is available between site B and A2.  Alternative water spigot is near site A1.

Sites:  Sites A-1 and A-2 are limited to 20 campers per site and have many trees throughout.  Site B is located on the East (right side) of the access road coming from the parking lot and is limited to 40 campers.  Site D is located on the West (left side) of the access road and is limited to 100 campers.  Side D is also the closest to the ball field and has the largest area of flat ground available for tent camping.  See photos below for all sites.

Park Sign
Water Access
Bath House 3
Bath House
Bath House 2
Site B (Left) Site A2 (Right)
Site A2
Site A1
Bath house (left), access road to campsites, A1 (right)
Site D (Left of Road), Site B (Right of Road)
View of ball field and site D from parking area
Site D is entire area between road and parking lot/ball field
Parking area and bath house

Program Overview

The agenda from our trip is located within the info sheet linked above.

Rocket Palooza:  The large open field available at this site was ideal for our rocket themed campout.  We spent several hours launching several rockets including stomp rockets, water rockets, hairspray rockets, alcohol rockets, and Estes solid rocket engine model rockets.

Hiking:  There are several hiking trails available at Susquehannock state park ranging from easy to challenging difficulty.  On this trip the scouts completed the Rhododendron trail which is rated as a moderate difficulty.  All scouts and adults successfully completed this 2.4 mile loop hike, although some sections of the trail were more challenging than we anticipated.   See full review of Rhododendron Trail.

Start

  • Great space for large group games
  • Consider alternate (easy) hike for ability groups
  • Group photo at overlook
  • Bring wet wipes (no showers)

Stop

  • Don’t call Rhododendron trail moderate

Continue

  • Good menu
  • Scouts loved Rocketpalooza!
  • Great views
  • Fun (challenging) hike

Cubmaster Notes

This camping trip to Susquehannock state park was our first camping trip of the 2019-2020 school year and as such was intended to be an easy camping weekend to encourage new families to join us in the outdoors.  The park is close enough to Aberdeen, MD to enable scouts to participate in day activities even if they are not camping or if there are other conflicts (e.g. fall soccer games).  The large field is a great location for just about any group game and was the perfect setting to support our rocket themed event.  We successfully launched our water rocket over 150ft in the air and had no problem recovering it over and over.  Our luck was not quite as good for the two traditional model rockets we launched as we eventually lost both of them to the trees after a few successful launches and recoveries.

One of the best features of this park that provided some controversial feedback is the hiking trails.  The overlook trail which begins across the street from the campground/ball field area is a relatively easy hike to get to the best overlook in the park.  The scouts were excited to learn that there is a geocache in this area of the park that was fairly easy to locate.  After hanging out at the overlook and taking some photos of the Susquehanna river valley, we proceeded to continue hiking on the Rhododendron trail in a clockwise direction.  The initial portions of this trail were very accessible as a wider fire road but eventually the trail turns into narrow singletrack that decends down a rocky path toward the Holtwood Dam area and then back up into the park.  The total elevation gain during the clockwise hike was less than 500 ft; however, the rocky terrain and the presence of many loose acorns (dubbed acorn alley) contributed to some challenging hiking conditions for our less experienced scouts and family members.  Fortunately, the area is full of Paw Paw trees so my scouts were able to take some breaks and enjoy an unexpected snack during the hike.  If I were to lead this hike again I would recommend novice hikers return to the campground via the Fire Trail, Holly Trail, and Pine Tree Trail and leave the Rhododendron trail to the more experienced hikers.

Overall this was a great trip and I highly recommend this location for future Cub Scout camping or day trips.

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