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Visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy: Lancaster County’s Strangest Outdoor Adventure

I’m always on the lookout for exciting things to see and do, especially when they are close to my home in Harrisburg. So, when I heard about a fun outdoor destination along the Susquehanna River in Conoy Township, I knew I had to check it out.

The White Cliffs of Conoy, as they are a called, is a nod to the White Cliffs of Dover in England. And, while not nearly as impressive as those across the pond, visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy is great for anyone looking for a unique outdoor activity in the Harrisburg/Lancaster area.

The cliffs are the result of a limestone quarry that once existed up the hill from the cliffs. Once pulled from the ground, the limestone and dolomite were crushed and burned creating a variety of products for local farms and businesses. Over the years, the excess limestone and dolomite was piled up near the river, creating large white mountains up to 30 feet tall. It’s entirely possible that the White Cliffs of Conoy are the first great industrial waste tourist attraction in the world.

The White Cliffs of Conoy overlooking the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The White Cliffs of Conoy overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Up until mid-Summer 2014, the cliffs were on private land. However, the cliffs are now under the control of Conoy Township and open to the public.

While the cliffs might not be the most amazing sight along the Susquehanna River, they are certainly a unique attraction for anyone looking to see something completely different from anything else in the region. They also provide a great overlook point for the river below.

The cliffs themselves are comprised of two sections with a narrow gorge running in between. It is possible to reach the bottom of the cliffs by sliding about 20 feet down the walls of the first section you come to when hiking. In my opinion, the most impressive view of the cliffs is from the bottom, along the Susquehanna River. However, while no signage has existed during my visits to discourage this, make sure you obey any signage that might be put up in the future.

The impressive view from the bottom of the White Cliffs of Conoy.

The impressive view from the bottom of the White Cliffs of Conoy.

It’s also worth noting that, since the White Cliffs of Conoy have only been opened to the public for a few years, there remains a lot of debris that could pose a danger to those not paying attention. Shards of rusty metal and old rope lie in the middle of the cliffs, so make sure to use caution when visiting, especially with children and pets.

At the time of publication, there is a plastic safety fence in place to keep visitors away from the tallest edges of the cliff. Hopefully, a more permanent fence will be erected soon because the orange one in place is a serious eyesore in photographs and is quite far back from the actual edge, obstructing some of the views (Update: The orange fencing is still in place as of April 2016).

The cliffs provide a great view of the Susquehanna River, but the orange safety fence is quite the eyesore at the White Cliffs of Conoy.

The cliffs provide a great view of the Susquehanna River, but the orange safety fence is quite the eyesore.

Getting to the White Cliffs of Conoy

Visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy is quite simple, thanks to a newly paved path that takes visitors right to the cliffs.

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    Parking is in Koser Park, a small park owned by the American Legion that’s already a popular boat launch. The parking lot is located at the following coordinates: 40.089838, -76.670566.

    From there, follow the paved trail located just to the right of the train tracks. The trail to the White Cliffs of Conoy is about 1.5 miles long and is fairly level and smooth, making it a great path for bike riders or strollers.

    Koser Park, the parking area for the White Cliffs of Conoy, sits at the end of Race Street in Bainbridge.

    Koser Park, the parking area for the White Cliffs of Conoy, sits at the end of Race Street in Bainbridge.

    The area around the trail was once home to the company town of Billmyer. Once home to roughly 1,000 residents, the town is now nothing more than a pile of ruins in the woods. The most noticeable ruins are the old limestone factory on your left just before the cliffs and the foundations of several small buildings about five minutes down the trail from the cliffs.

    The ruins of the old limestone factory sit across the train tracks from the trail to the White Cliffs of Conoy.

    The ruins of the old limestone factory sit across the train tracks from the trail to the White Cliffs.

    If you are looking to extend the hike, the trail to the cliffs continues all the way to Marietta, with plans to extend it to Columbia and beyond. This makes for a great walking or biking trail that has great views of the Susquehanna River for most of its route. Along the way, don’t miss the bald eagles nest and the impressive Shocks Mill Bridge, which carries trains over the river.

    Shocks Mill Bridge along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail.

    The beautiful Shocks Mill Bridge carries trains over the Susquehanna River.

    [Click here for information on how to use coordinates to find your destination.]

    See map below for other area attractions.

    AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

    Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

    9 Comments

    • Amy

      We were there last Saturday & loved it. We mountain biked the whole trail (to Chickie’s Rock – yes took some detours but on public property). Loved it & will be back!

    • Wren Dillon

      Love this whole website. I am bookmarking it in hopes that warmer weather and more adventuring are in the near future for me.

      • Jim Cheney

        Glad you like the site, Wren. I’m excited for warmer weather as well!

    • Sharon A Wheeler

      Being new to the area, it was a nice road trip and hike with my dog today at the Cliff’s. Thank You for your article. This is a beautiful place and would never have known if it wasn’t for your article. Thank You. We had a great day exploring the area.

      • Jim Cheney

        Glad you enjoyed your trip, Sharon! Hope you find even more great places to enjoy on the site.

    • Linda Wallace

      Would you have the coordinates to the White Cliffs of Conoy? We looked for it when we were in the area and ended up in the wrong Koser Park! Thank you.

      • Jim Cheney

        The trail starts from the parking lot here: 40.089801, -76.670539. The cliffs themselves are here: 40.072228, -76.652968. Don’t be confused by roads into the Bainbridge Scuba Center, the closest public parking area is the one I listed.

    • Victoria Elizabeth

      Hi Jim
      Do you state on your site/blog which adventures and trails would be conducive to wheelchairs?
      Thank you
      Victoria 🌹

      • Jim Cheney

        I do from time to time, but it can be hard for me to say definitely unless they are noted in official literature as such. For this particular trail, it’s steep in places, but it is paved the whole way. Not sure that a wheelchair could actually make it onto the cliffs, though.

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