Otter Creek Campground to PA/MD Line
The longest map of the trail
For 30.4 miles, the Mason Dixon Trail weaves through the Otter Creek Campground, along various “Runs” and Creeks, through State Game Lands, by historic Locks, and travels onto country roads, eventually crossing over the Pennsylvania-Maryland State Line.
From the Otter Creek campground, the trail crosses Sawmill Run by way of a footbridge and continues via switchbacks toward Furnace Run Road. There is a 4 mile gradual incline from the campground to Posey Road, a total of 629′.
The trail passes through State Game Land 83 and joins a power line maintenance road for about .5 miles. It continues through a .2 mile woodsy section and then follows Newcut and Posey Roads.
At the 4 mile mark, enter the State Game Land 181, following a gated maintenance road down hill to the Oakland Run. Cross the Run and follow the trail uphill through rhododendron groves. There are rocks and logs that provide an easy Run crossing during the dryer seasons of the year. Following a particularly rainy March, we had difficulty crossing the Run without boots full of water.
The trail descends and follows the Oakland Run to the Susquehanna River.
The Mason Dixon joins McCall’s Ferry Road, a dirt road that parallels the river. Walk along the road and pass the Holtwood Dam and a small stone parking area, around mile 8 of the map. The Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant was constructed in the early 1900’s, completed in 1910 and originally named the McCall’s Ferry Dam. It is the oldest of the three major dams that span the Susquehanna River. The plant is connects Holtwood, Lancaster County to southern York County and continues to generate electricity. Learn more about the history and current status of the dam at the following links:
- The Holtwood Project – March 2020
- Pennsylvania Heritage, the Holtwood Dam – Winter 2016
- Pennsylvania Heritage, Holtwood Hydroelectric Power Plant – Summer 2009
Proceed .1 mile past the dam and turn right onto an uphill path. Continue .5 miles to a power line clearing that provides a view of the river and dam. Walking .1 mile leads to a rocky outcropping that provides a view during the winter and early spring months.
Descend via switchbacks to Mill Creek and turn left onto the trail. The creek and its lovely waterfalls border the trail on the right hand side. The descent from the crest to McCall’s Ferry Road is .9 miles. Mill Creek Falls are visible from the road and many local folks complete the short walk along the trail for photo opportunities.
Cross over the small bridge on McCalls Ferry Road and turn left into the woods at the old mill foundation. Continue a half mile along the river to the historic Lock 12, a preserved river and tidewater canal lock. The old canal paralleled the Susquehanna River for 45 miles between Wrightsville, PA and Havre de Grace, MD. It was built between 1836 and 1839 for lumber, coal, iron and grain trade between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Lock 12 was one of 28 locks along the canal. It is 17′ wide, 170′ long and had a lift capacity of 8.8′, overcoming a 233′ elevation difference between terminal points. History signs, picnic tables, playground, restrooms and parking are located near the lock.
The trail progresses toward the river and at mile 10, goes under the Norman Wood Bridge (Route 372). It continues along the river, onto Peavine Island and then returns to the mainland. The trail winds through large boulders and over a rock face (via rungs mounted into the rock).
Around mile 11, the trail departs from the rocks and passes through PECO’s Lock 15 Interpretive Park, another restored section of the historic Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal.
The M-D-T follows secondary roadways for 5.5 miles.
At mile 17.1, the trail returns to a dirt path and follows Muddy Creek for almost 3.5 miles. Tumbling water, ferns and rhododendrons make this a lovely walk. The trail gradually climbs uphill and at mile 21.1, descends steeply (305′).
Following the steep descent, the trail joins Cold Cabin Road, a gravel street lined with cottages. There is a parking area and picnic tables in Cold Cabin Park (mile 22.5), a perfect stop for a snack or lunch break.
From the park, the Mason Dixon Trail returns to roadways for 2.2 miles: Cold Cabin, Grove, and Robinson Run Roads. Mile 24.7 (Lay Road) marks the beginning of Peach Bottom Power Plant territory (to mile 26.8). Contact the Security office (8 am – 5 pm) for approval to continue onto the trails of the property. 717-456-4212.
Exit the Peach Bottom property at mile 26.8 and turn right onto Krick Road. The map notes a panoramic view at the top of Krick Road (27.7), but we didn’t see it. Continue on lightly traveled roads to mile 30.4, the Pennsylvania-Maryland State Line.
Parking and restroom options west to east
Mile 0 – Otter Creek Campground Parking Lot; fee; closed in off-season
Mile 3.3 – Blain Road, .1 mile off of Posey Road
Mile 4 – State Game Land 181 Parking Lot
Mile 8 – McCall’s Ferry Road at Holtwood Dam; small parking area
Mile 9.9 – Historic Lock 12 recreation area; large parking lot, restrooms, picnic area, playground
Mile 11.6 – PA Fish Commission Boat Launch; parking lot
Mile 22.5 – Cold Cabin Park; small parking area
Mile 24.7 – Dorsey Park Boat Launch parking lot; off limits if Peach Bottom Power Plant security is orange