Mason Dixon Trail - York County

Lock 12 North to the Holtwood Dam

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

Location. Parallel to the Susquehanna River from Lock 12 off Holtwood Road (PA 372) north to the Holtwood Dam. York ADC Map 44, Coords G10 to E7.


This area is far upstream of the Conowingo Dam and the Susquehanna flows at the same level that it did when the Canal was constructed in 1840. Thus the first part of the trail follows the original canal tow path and is close to the river. The trail then crosses River Road and follows the north side of a beautiful stream and climbs to the top of a ridge and descends to the Holtwood Dam.

Parking is available at the Lock 12 Recreation Park off PA 372, just prior to crossing the Susquehanna.

The Mason Dixon trail is well blazed. The blazes which lead directly down to the river permit you to crosss under the bridge and then proceed south along the river to another Lock.

To proceed north, follow the blue blazes from the parking lot through the park which includes impressive ruins of a lime kiln and saw mill and across Anderson Run to Lock 12 and the ruins of a lock tender's house in an open area. The Lock, some 180 feet long is in excellent condition and one can only marvel at the quality of the stonework which has withstood some 160 years of rain, snow and frost heaves.

At the north end of the lock, follow the canal north to the far end of the mown area to again pick up the blue blazes. The trail then follows the original tow path which is now wooded. The canal bed is high above the river and on the river side of the tow path observe the amount of rock used to shore up the canal. Although this canal is of no consequence in a world listing of public works projects, the amount of manpower required must have been enormous. The transportation of freight we take for granted required a good deal of effort in 1840.

At almost any point along the tow path, there is convenient access to the Susquehanna. When I hiked this, the river was low and the river's rocky bottom was visible from the shore to Piney Island. This is a nice place to sit and observe hawks scanning the wide open area.

At 0.6 miles from Anderson Run, the trail comes to a second stream and another impressive canal lock in the woods along River Road. The trail crosses River Road, crosses the River Road bridge, and then follows the north side of the stream up hill along a pleasant woods road. This is very beautiful with the stream's cascades in a mature hardwood forest with an undercover of wild rhododrendon. The trail continues up hill to a fork in the stream and then follows the lower stream, up, up and up. I was tired and it was getting late and I did not continue further.


A short distance upstream from Lock 12 there is a field on the opposite side of River Road and one can pick up a white blazed trail which loops back onto River Road. There is an Appalachian shelter on this short trail.