The season of Spring is here and I am very eager to enjoy the mild temperatures, green foliage and bright flowers that will soon line many trails. But a part of me will miss the winter wonderland. There is something magical about hiking through icicle sprinkled forests.

On a hike at the end of January, we walked through groves of icicles, each sparkling in the sunlight. It was stunningly beautiful and extremely peaceful. It was during this walk that I wrote my father’s eulogy. He had died two days prior, and my grief was overwhelming. I took to nature for quiet prayer and reflection. In the silence of the winter forest, I found the peace and resolve that I needed to carry on.

The trail route

We created our own parking space along Holtwood Road, backing into a space under some power lines along the Conestoga Trail. Walking only .2 mile north, we came to a parking lot, much better suited for stowing a vehicle. Conveniently located near the parking lot are bathrooms, a picnic area and a playground.

Winter grass path marked by blue blazes
The trailhead of Kellys Run

We followed the blue Kellys Run Trail for the majority of our walk. The Conestoga Trail, marked with orange, overlaps this trail, therefore most trees were marked with both colors. At the .4 mile point, we veered right onto the yellow Oliver Patton Trail, which looped back to the blue and orange trails after an additional .4 miles.

Dirt path through leafless trees
The Kellys Run Trail is marked by a blue blaze. The orange Conewago Trail shares the path.

The trail started like many others: naked trees lining a dirt pathway covered with dried leaves. As we neared the water of Kellys Run, we came to beautiful green rhododendrons, that I imagine bloom spectacularly in the late spring months.

Rhododendrons backed by a large moss covered rock wall
Rhododendrons are plentiful along Kellys Run

We continued trekking, enjoying the crisp, cool air and the bright winter sunlight.

Then, the magic. Icicles appeared on the stone walls along the trail. They covered rocks and trees along the water’s edge and shimmered in the winter sunlight. I was mesmerized by the beauty.

Layered rock wall, covered in icicles

Giant icicles hovered over churning waterfalls. Sheets of ice covered big boulders and parts of the trail.

Up close row of large icicles dripping off of a rock
3 large icicles pointing down to the waterfall inches below

At mile 2.3 we crossed Kellys Run by cautiously stepping on ice covered rocks and a downed tree. We tried to continue our trek, but the next section of the path was solid ice.

Jagged icicles protrude from the sides and bottom of a large bolder, under which is ice covered trail
Solid ice on the trail made the trek slippery

Our fearless pup, Faith, said “no thank you” and refused to continue on. We followed her instinct and returned along the same route for a mile, turning right onto the Kellys Run Return Trail, completing a 4.4 mile loop.

Churning waterfall in the foreground, large icicle covered rock boulder hangs over the water, with another waterfall in the distance.
Icicles and waterfalls = magic
Rocks in a rushing stream create a bubbly waterfall
Kellys Run, Lancaster County, PA

The details

Hike difficulty classification (link)
DifficultyEasy - moderate
Geographic locationLancaster, PA
Trailhead parking optionsParking lot
Trail amenitiesParking lot, restrooms, picnic tables, and playground
Elevation - trailhead630'
Elevation - highest peak720'
Elevation gain705'
Total mileage4.4 miles
Water sourcesrunning creek
HighlightsKellys Run waterfalls and many rhododendrons

Directions to Kellys Run Parking Area

Icicle covered boulder bordered by a rushing waterfall

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God-loving, healthy lifestyle enthusiast, mother, grandmother, animal obsessed and married to my best friend. Life is good!

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