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 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 to create a variety of products for local farms and businesses.
Over the years, the excess limestone and dolomite were 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.
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.
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 lay in the middle of the cliffs, so make sure to use caution when visiting, especially with children and pets.
Getting to the White Cliffs of Conoy
"Waterfalls of Pennsylvania" by Jim Cheney
If you love PA waterfalls, you won't want to miss this waterfall book from Jim Cheney, author of Uncovering PA, featuring more than 180 great waterfalls. Order it now on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
Visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy is quite simple, thanks to a paved path that takes visitors right to the cliffs.
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.
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.
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 eagle’s nest and the impressive Shocks Mill Bridge, which carries trains over the river.
There are even more options for exploration further south on the Susquehanna River, including Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve and the Pinnacle Overlook in Lancaster County and Mill Creek Falls and Duncan Run Falls in York County.
Struck by the beauty around the White Cliffs of Conoy? Soak in more of the natural beauty of this region at Governor Dick Observation Tower and Chickies Rock or enjoy the tasty Turkey Hill Experience.
[Click here for information on how to use coordinates to find your destination.]
11 thoughts on “Visiting the White Cliffs of Conoy: Lancaster County’s Strangest Outdoor Adventure”
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!
Love this whole website. I am bookmarking it in hopes that warmer weather and more adventuring are in the near future for me.
Glad you like the site, Wren. I’m excited for warmer weather as well!
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.
Glad you enjoyed your trip, Sharon! Hope you find even more great places to enjoy on the site.
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.
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.
Do you state on your site/blog which adventures and trails would be conducive to wheelchairs?
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.
Enjoy reading your article. It is also knowledgeable. I just went on 11/29/2020. Glad to see there is no any fences around the cliff. Mind your steps though. A short and sweet hike from the parking lot to here.
Orange fencing down as of 11/12/22 rode 25 miles round trip from our campground on my folding bike. Nice ride & destination.