Just north of the city of Harrisburg, this 1,025-acre conservation area offers a natural setting for passive recreation like birding, nature walks, and hiking. Boyd Big Tree Preserve has an extensive 12-mile trail system ranging from easy to difficult hiking. Each of the trails connects to at least one other trail, so find a trek that suits your skill level.
From the wildflowers at your feet to the canopy provided by the “big trees” that give the conservation are its namesake, the trails through Boyd’s Big Tree offer beautiful, unaltered scenery. The trail is best-used from March to October, but it’s also open through the winter for cross country skiing.
Tip: When you plan your trip, check for upcoming events at conservation area. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hosts events for all ages to cover things like birding, reptiles and amphibians, black bears, and more.
Start off easy with one of the loops that are good walks in themselves but also connect you to the more difficult parts of the forest. The 1.1-mile Lower Creek Trail takes you into the heart of the conservation area, while the 1.2-mile Pond Loop Trail offers a good chance to see some amphibians in the pond or encounter wildlife at this popular watering hole.
Experienced hikers or anyone looking for a challenge will enjoy the 2.8-mile Janie Trail. It follows the ridge top with a steep climb down the mountainside. The 2-mile Upper Spring Trail gives you access to the largest trees in the conservation area. Visiting us in the winter? All of Boyd Big Tree Preserve’s trails are open for cross-country skiing.
Boyd’s Big Tree Preserve Preserve Loop, and sometimes called “Darlington” trail, is approximately 6 miles and should not be confused with the other, longer “Darlington” trail along the Appalachian Trail. This trail starts out with pink and green markers, then you’ll follow from pink to white to red until you return to the pink marker to finish the loop. The Darlington trail is not on the park map. It encompasses three trails into one big loop. It starts with the East Loop trail, then the Upper Spring trail and then Janie trail back down to the East Loop trail. There are small inclines and it is a little rocky.
Boyd's Big Tree Preserve is accessed through a single parking lot located at 401 Fishing Creek Valley Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17112. From US 322 , take the Fishing Creek Exit. Then turn east onto Fishing Creek Valley Road (SR 443). The conservation area is 2.6 miles on the right. This parking lot provides access to Pond Loop Trail, the main trail for the highlighted section of the park.