Wildwood Park

Wildwood Park provides visitors with a variety of trails that range from easy to difficult. From wooden boardwalks that are handicapped accessible to natural surface trails with steeper inclines, the trails support recreation for all. Activities include anything from walking, running, and hiking to biking, birdwatching, and even cross-country skiing in the winter. The park is also home to the Benjamin Olewine III Nature Center, which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Features of the Nature Center include an exhibit area that depicts the areas natural resource information for both children and adults, as well as a nature store and restrooms. At the center of Wildwood Park is a shallow lake that is a habitat to many bird species. The park's longest trail--Wildwood Way--skirts the lake and is utilized by the larger Capital Area Greenbelt, a 20-mile loop trail that meanders through and around Harrisburg.

About the Park

County: Dauphin
Area: 210 acres, with a 90-acre shallow lake
Collective Trail Length: over 6 miles
Trail Access Points: North Lot, Middle Lot, South Lot (all are located along Industrial Road on the west side of the lake)
Trail Surface: Varies (dirt, soil with wood chips, paved, gravel, wooden boardwalk)
Activities: Walking, running, hiking, biking, birdwatching, cross-country skiing (winter) 

Towpath Trail [ see map ]

Towpath Trail

  • Length: 1 mile, does not loop except when combined with Wildwood Way for 3.1 mile trail
  • Trail Access Points: Middle Lot
  • Trail Surface: Soil trail with wood chips
  • Activities: Walking, running, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing (winter) 
  • Difficulty: Easy, level

The Towpath Trail provides good views of the lake on the east and a remnant of the Pennsylvania Canal on the west. It is a good place to see wetland birds, songbirds, and turtles basking on logs in the canal. The trail runs from the pavilion at the north end of the lake to the restrooms at the south end. The Towpath and Wildwood Way combine to form a 3.1 mile loop around the lake. The loop is used extensively for walking, jogging and bike riding, and in winter, cross-country skiing.

Wildwood Way Trail [ see map ]

  • Length: 2.1 miles, does not loop except when combined with Towpath for 3.1 mile trail
  • Trail Access Points: South Lot
  • Trail Surface: Primarily blacktop with some gravel areas
  • Activities: Walking, running, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing (winter) 
  • Difficulty: Moderately difficult, with several long hills Wildwood Way Trail

Wildwood Way features a variety of upland habitats including a meadow and forests. A variety of upland songbirds may be seen along Wildwood Way and occasionally views of the lake. There are two trailheads. One approach is at the pavilion at the north end of the lake and the other is next to the restrooms at the south end of the lake. Wildwood Way passes through the Olewine Nature Center parking area. Wildwood Way and the Towpath Trial combine to form a 3.1 mile loop around the lake. The loop is used extensively for walking, jogging and bike riding, and in winter, cross-country skiing. The trail is also utilized by the larger Capital Area Greenbelt, a 20-mile loop trail that meanders through and around Harrisburg.

Delta Boardwalk [ see map ]

Delta Boardwalk Trail

  • Length: .5 mile, connects with Wildwood Way
  • Trail Access Points: South Lot
  • Trail Surface: Wooden boardwalk, wheelchair accessible
  • Activities: Walking, birdwatching
  • Difficulty: Easy, level

The Delta Boardwalk meanders through a marsh and wet woodland where a variety of wetland and upland birds may be seen. The marsh is an important nesting area for wetland birds such as Canada geese, various ducks and red-winged blackbirds. You can approach the boardwalk from Wildwood Way at the base of the hill behind Olewine Nature Center or from Wildwood Way near the bridge over Paxton Creek. No bicycles, roller blades or skateboards are permitted on the boardwalk. Bicycles must be walked on the boardwalk.

North Boardwalk [ see map ]

North Boardwalk bird blind

  • Length: .5 mile, does not loop or connect with other trails, you must return the same way
  • Trail Access Points: South Lot
  • Trail Surface: Wooden boardwalk, wheelchair accessible
  • Activities: Walking, birdwatching
  • Difficulty: Easy, level

The North Boardwalk winds through a wet woodland and marsh. The blind at the end of the walkway provides excellent bird watching for much of the year. Wetland birds and a variety of marsh plants are abundant along the walk. The trailhead is on Wildwood Way just north of Wildwood Way crossing Paxton Creek. No bicycles, roller blades or skateboards are permitted on the boardwalk. Bicycles must be walked on the boardwalk.

East Shore Trail [ see map ]

  • Length: .9 mile, connects with Wildwood Way
  • Trail Access Points: South Lot or North Lot
  • Trail Surface: Unimproved soil surface, passes through fragile habitat so you must stay on the trail, can be wet during the majority of the year
  • Activities: Walking, birdwatching
  • Difficulty: Easy

The East Shore Trail parallels the edge of the lake and passes through wet woodlands that border an area containing mature hardwood trees. A variety of wetland birds and upland songbirds may be seen here. A highlight of the trail is the large sycamore tree at the edge of the lake at about the mid-point of the trail. It can be viewed from an adjacent bridge. There are two trailheads off Wildwood Way. Because this is a fragile trail, bicycles are not permitted.

Tall Timbers Trail [ see map ]

  • Length: .25 mile, connects with Wildwood Way
  • Trail Access Points: North Lot
  • Trail Surface: Primitive, unimproved dirt path
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, birdwatching
  • Difficulty: Difficult, steep terrain

Tall Timbers Trail drops from a ridge into a gorge, then climbs up a steep incline to the adjacent ridge. Log steps are helpful in getting down to the bottom of the gorge and up the other side but it is still a difficult hike. One ridge contains mature beech, maples and mixed hardwoods. Birds here are primarily upland songbirds. In spring wildflowers can be abundant. The trail is entered from Wildwood Way either across from the northern trailhead of the East Shore Trail or across from the meadow. Bikes are not permitted on this trail.

Fox Run Trail [ see map ]

Fox Run Trail

  • Length: .25 mile
  • Trail Access Points: North Lot
  • Trail Surface: Primitive, unimproved dirt path
  • Activities: Walking, wildlife watching
  • Difficulty: Easy

Fox Run Trail leads hikers through one of the most pristine areas in Wildwood Park. With the new bog bridges, hikers will be able to keep their feet dry while enjoying and preserving sensitive habitat.

Naturalists at Wildwood Park expect to find the improved habitat an excellent breeding area for frogs, salamanders, and wildflowers.

 

Trail information and photos provided by the "Wildwood Park and Nature Center,"