As the temperatures dip this month, you might feel inclined to head indoors. Not so fast! Autumn is a perfect time to visit the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. While it’s certainly a unique place to explore any time of year, the changing foliage only intensifies the area’s natural beauty.
Located on the northeastern edge of Lancaster County, with a portion of the area crossing into Lebanon County, the 6,254-acre area, which is controlled by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, offers a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, fishing, hunting and birdwatching. During the warmer months, you can kayak or canoe the 360-acre lake. There’s plenty of room to cast your line or take in a gorgeous sunset.
Your first stop should be to the Visitors Center, where game commission staff is on hand to introduce you to the area, provide maps, and answer any questions you may have. The Visitors Center, which is closed from Thanksgiving through January, is also home to nature exhibits, a video room and an auditorium, where guest lectures and educational activities related to wildlife and conservation are held. Middle Creek is a real treasure for anyone looking to learn more about nature, especially kids.
Next, head for the Willow Point Trail. A 10-minute walk will deliver you to an observation point that takes in a large portion of the lake. Trails of varying lengths crisscross the area. For example, the Conservation Trail, which is 1.4 miles long, loops through woodland, fields and wetlands, arriving back at the Visitors Center. The 45-minute walk is doable for all ages. Another destination I’d recommend is the 1.25-mile Middle Creek Trail. Thicker boots would be recommended for this trail as it follows an abandoned trolley line. You’ll notice the remnants as you pass under the tall oaks with the sounds of the Middle Creek nearby. Completed in 1914, the trolley line carried travelers between Lebanon and Ephrata.
Winter brings a different kind of beauty to Middle Creek, as the lake freezes and the valley glistens with occasional snowfalls. If you happen to be driving through the area, brightly colored ice fishing shelters will no doubt catch your eye. A word of warning: The winds really whip across that ice, so you may want to wait until late February or early March to visit. That timeframe coincides with the arrival of 100,000 or more snow geese that is a sight to behold.
100 Museum Rd., Stevens. Visitors Center hours through Thanksgiving (reopening January 31) are Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m-4 p.m., and Sunday, 12-5 p.m. Call 733-1512.
Linda Copenheaver says
Is the lake open for kayaking at this time?
Middle Creek Kayak Rentals LLC says
It is open for non-motorized boating May 16- September 14. http://www.middlecreekkayak.com
Maureen Mulligan says
This says people can kayak the 360 acre lake. That’s great news. Exactly when is kayaking allowed.
Mike Gainer says
why is their no handy Cap porta poty . You have handy cap parking
Meghan Sidelnick says
Are there environmental scientists on staff during weekend museum hours for 4th/5th grade boys to ask pre-developed questions for cub scout Science Elective? We have a visit planned for April 4. Thanks!
Kaylee Rex says
Hi Meghan, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer. I recommend reaching out to Middle Creek directly. You can find their contact information here: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/AboutUs/ContactInformation/Southeast/MiddleCreekWildlifeManagementArea/Pages/default.aspx
carol A mcdonald says
Beautiful park but there needs to be a swimming area
John lucas says
Clearly you are missing the entire idea of preservation. I don’t think swimming where 60,000 ducks, geese and swans have pooped during their stay sounds invigorating to me!
Lorraine Phillips says
Can you kayak in your own kayak at Middle Creek?