Swatara State Park, spanning 3,520 acres across northern Lebanon County and Pine Grove Township in Schuylkill County, is showing off all the beauty of the fall season right now. Here’s what LebTown captured on a recent trip to the park.

All photographs by Will Trostel.

One of the ruined locks that can be found along the Swatara Creek. These locks were part of a 21.6-mile canal that ran from the Water Works to Pine Grove.

Swatara State Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Unveiled to the public in 1987 as part of an unfinished project that included plans for a major dam on the creek, the park contains miles of walking, cycling, and horse trails, alongside bridges crossing the creek and the ruins of seven locks and other waterway features.

The Waterville Bridge, built in 1890 in Lycoming County and moved to its current location in the park in 1985.

One notable feature of the park is the Waterville Bridge, a lenticular truss bridge originally built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in Waterville, Lycoming County, in 1890. By 1985, it had become too narrow for modern vehicles to use. Instead of being demolished, it was transported to its new home in Lebanon County.

The Waterville Bridge is a lenticular truss iron bridge, one of hundreds constructed by the Connecticut-based Berlin Iron Bridge Company.
The bridge itself offers a glimpse of the mountains that rise up towards the northern end of Lebanon County.
Fallen leaves drifting to the banks transform the color of the creek to a deep reddish hue.
The Appalachian Trail meets the park at the Waterville Bridge, crossing Route 72 in the process.
The trail along the Swatara is a true rail trail; it was formerly a line operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The park is also notable for intersecting with the Appalachian Trail, the multi-state mountain walking route stretching over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. The trail crosses into the park at the Waterville Bridge, where numerous other trails also branch off, including the Swatara Rail Trail and the Bear Hole Trail, which together connect a loop 11 miles in length.

Trail hikers and backpackers are rarely at a loss for places to go with the park’s numerous loops, signposts, and landmarks.
A historical information panel informs visitors about the Union Canal branch that once occupied the Swatara Creek here.
One end of the trail system runs right underneath Interstate 81.
A view into a beautiful afternoon among woodland and water.

Read More: Outdoors lovers enjoying activities on Swatara Creek in record numbers

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Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...


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