Fort Hunter Park

About the Park

County: Dauphin 

Size: 40 acre park, 153 acre conservancy

Collective Trail Length: 2.6 miles

Activities: Walking, Hiking, Bird-watching, Historic tours, Playground, Dog-walking

Maps: Park Walking Tour and Fort Hunter Conservancy 

Located on a bluff that overlooks the Susquehanna and Blue Mountain, Fort Hunter Park consists of about 40 acres with a variety of activities to enjoy. Throughout history it has served as a war fort, a hub for frontier commerce, and an exclusive private estate. Now it is open to the public and preserved by the Friends of Fort Hunter.

Visitors can enjoy outdoors activities such as taking a walk by the river or the old towpath of the Pennsylvania canal. Bird watching and observation of nature can be enjoyed at several natural areas along Fishing Creek, the Susquehanna River, and the old Pennsylvania canal. Those who wish to enjoy the river even more can put in a canoe, kayak, or small boat from the boat launch.

Located within the park are ten historic buildings, two picnic pavillions, two sets of playground equipment, and a play field. In season, tours of the park and mansion are available. Educational opportunities allows groups of students to learn about mansion life in the 1800s, and examine old artifacts and tools used over 100 years ago. Hands-on workshops on how Native Americans lived in the Fort Hunter/Harrisburg area are also available.

Other sights in the area include the Rockville Bridge, which is the world's longest stone masonry arch railroad viaduct in the world, as well as the Susquehanna Statue of Liberty located in the Dauphin Narrows section of the Susquehanna River. 

By summer 2020, visitors to the Harrisburg area will also have the ability to walk or bike from Fort Hunter Park to Wildwood Park, on the outskirts of Harrisburg, and vice-versa. The latest expansion to the Capital Area Greenbelt will connect these two parks in Harrisburg. This $4.5 million 2-mile trail expansion will add to the already 20 mile long Greenbelt which runs through five municipalities in Dauphin County. A pedestrian lane will be created on Front Street north of Linglestown Road to accomodate walkers/bikers. The expected completion date is May 2020. 

For those looking for some more traditional hiking paths, located about a mile northeast of Fort Hunter Park is the Fort Hunter Conservancy, a 153-acre area of wooded land donated to Fort Hunter in 1986. It is open to the public for day hiking only, with overnight camping and fires prohibited, and includes a 1-mile lightly trafficked loop trail. This trail offers views of beautiful wild flowers and is also good for bird watching. Be cautious, however, as the Fort Hunter Conservancy is located very close to State Game Lands, and hikers should be on the lookout during hunting season.  

Park information courtesy: forthunter.org

Top photo courtesy: tripadvisor.com

Access and parking: 

Fort Hunter Park is located on North Front St. along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg PA. 

Fort Hunter Conservancy can be located off of Fishing Creek Valley Road (Route 443), which is about one mile northeast of Fort Hunter Park. From US 22/322, visitors should exit at Route 443 and proceed east for another 3 miles. The trailhead can be accessed by making a left turn onto Camp Reily Road. Parking spaces can be found next to a wooden staircase after passing two YMCA camp entrances. The road ends in a gravel parking lot with the wooden staircase serving as the trailhead. 

Photo courtesy: bayjournal.com Photo courtesy: forthunter.org
Photo courtesy: forthunter.org Photo courtesy: alltrails.com