Highlights From Pennsylvania's Newest Preserve
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In 2017, The Nature Conservancy acquired the property comprising its Cove Mountain Preserve, located just outside of Harrisburg, with a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, along with funds raised from generous donors, in an effort to permanently protect land along part of the Kittatinny Ridge (also known as Blue Mountain or First Mountain). Long recognized as one of the Commonwealth’s most treasured landscapes, the Kittatinny’s forested ridgetops serve as one of the most important wildlife corridors within the northeastern U.S.—stretching from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south and the Catskill Mountains to the north.
At Cove Mountain, the Conservancy is managing the preserve to support native forest and wildlife, including migrating raptors and songbirds. The preserve is also open for public recreation via a series of restored former logging roads that have been transformed into two miles of hiking trails leading to scenic views of the Susquehanna River, surrounding ridges and the historic Rockville Bridge – a railroad bridge built in 1902 and the longest of its kind in the world.
Marysville, Perry County
Although Central Pennsylvania boasts plentiful natural areas, these places—especially along our ridgetops—remain relatively unprotected. As development extends outward from Harrisburg, nearby mountain slopes are faced with increased conversion pressure. Other threats include over browsing by deer, non-native invasive plants and pests, and unsustainable logging.
What’s at Stake
In addition to its location along the Kittatinny Ridge, the property falls within the Susquehanna Water Gaps, one of 28 National Natural Landmarks in Pennsylvania recognized by National Park Service, and is part of the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, the Middle Susquehanna River Water Trail and the Susquehanna Birding and Wildlife Trail. It has also been identified as a conservation priority by the Perry County Greenway Plan.
Cove Mountain represents the Conservancy’s first nature preserve in Central Pennsylvania along the state’s Kittatinny Ridge. In addition to protecting and connecting critical wildlife habitat, it also showcases efforts by the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition to safeguard the surrounding landscape. The Conservancy is also partnering with a local church to provide parking, picnic and outdoor classroom areas for visitors seeking to spend time outdoors connecting with nature.
Things To Do
The preserve is open to the public daily, from dawn until dusk, for bird watching, photography, hiking (view a trail map) and other passive nature-based activities. The property is open to public hunting through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Public Access Cooperator Program through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Public Access Cooperator Program.
GPS Coordinates: 40.347094, -76.938427
NOTE: Parking and a trailhead for Cove Mountain Preserve is located at the upper gravel parking lot for the Wesley United Methodist Church of Marysville (450 Sylvan St, Marysville, PA 17053).
Traveling from the PA Turnpike I-76:
- Take exit 242 (York – Baltimore, Harrisburg) and merge onto I-83 North.
- Take exit 41B for Lemoyne and turn left onto Lowther Street. Turn left onto South 3rd Street then turn right onto Market Street.
- Turn left onto South Front Street and continue onto US-11 North / US-15 North to Marysville.
- In Marysville turn left onto Spruce Street then a quick right onto Linden Avenue. Turn Left on Sylvan Street and follow up the hill till you come to the upper gravel parking lot for the Wesley United Methodist Church.
Traveling from the south:
- From Interstate 81 take Exit 65 for US-15 N/US-11 N towards Marysville. Turn left onto Spruce St. Turn right onto Linden Ave. Turn left onto Sylvan St.
- From US-15 N/US-11 N towards Marysville. Turn left onto Spruce St. Turn right onto Linden Ave. Turn left onto Sylvan Street.
Traveling from the north:
- From US-22 E/USS-322 E take exit onto US-11 S/US-15 S towards Camp Hill. Turn Right onto Spruce St. Turn Right onto Linden Ave. Turn Left onto Sylvan St.
- From US-11 S/US-15 S. Turn Right onto Spruce St. Turn Right onto Linden Ave. Turn Left onto Sylvan Street.
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