Editor's note: Each Sunday throughout the summer, Lancaster Newspapers interns will report on a hiking trail they experienced firsthand.
Lancaster residents might have missed the quiet, lush gem that lies just outside the city, but the Noel S. Dorwart Memorial Park and Farmingdale Trail offer a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
A collaborative project involving East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County Conservancy and Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, park and trail - actually a trio of trails - have been open to the public since 2009.
Since its dedication, Kathryn Sandoe said, it's rarely gone unused.
"It's common to see a dozen or more cars in the parking lot at any given time," Sandoe, communications manager for LCSWMA, said.
The trails are located within the park - hence the two different names - and a parking area is provided just off Good Drive.
Various natural elements can be found within the park while hiking the three different trails, which are open during daylight hours.
"One of the trails winds through wetlands, a natural water storage filtration system that provides a home for a diversity of wildlife and vegetation," Sandoe said of the Wetlands trail.
Upon entering the park from the lot off Good Drive, visitors have three trails to choose from.
To the far left is the Wetlands trail, and to the far right is the Creek trail, which takes visitors by the Conestoga Creek. Straight ahead is the Woods trail, which provides a more rugged and foliage-filled adventure.
Also to the right of the entrance is a designated dog area, where canine visitors may be unleashed and left to enjoy the field. Owners should be mindful that the field is lined by the frequently traveled railroad that crosses Good Drive and Farmingdale Road.
Lancaster native Dillon Fitzpatrick, 20, visits the park with his lab, Lazlo, "almost every day."
"I sometimes take him to the creek, and let him swim," Fitzpatrick said of Conestoga Creek. "That field over there - I let him off the leash and let him run around. He loves it."
Caitlin Downs, also of Lancaster, said her lab mix, Maeby, also is a fan of the field and creek.
"She likes to get off-leash in the dog area," Downs said. She loves the trails, too, and she likes to be able to dip in the creek,"
She said that evenings are the best time for canine-lovers to bring their dogs to socialize, as that's when the most people visit.
The three trails are made of gravel and can become steep or rugged, so appropriate footwear should be considered. Also, because of the narrow trails and rough terrain, motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited.
No matter where a nature-lover's feet might lead them in Dorwart Park, there's a view at every angle.
Wildlife also is in large supply along the trails. With large trees, high grass and various berry bushes, there isn't an inch of Dorwart Park that's free of constant movement.
Self-proclaimed naturalist Dan Keener brings his 6-year-old son, Sammy, to the park to educate him on various animals and insects, as well as the different types of berry bushels.
"There's a tree back here -- we call it the snake tree," Keener, of East Hempfield, said. "Because in the spring, it's just starting to warm up, and they start coming out of the holes - you can see them. Then they shed their skin and they take off into the woods."
Keener said he's seen black rat snakes and garter snakes throughout the park, as well as their skins.
Visitors should keep in mind that neither of these snakes poses a serious threat. However, garter snakes have been found to produce a mild venom, and hikers should consider this while wondering the park.
Less dangerous is the wide variety of birds found on site. Bird houses are staked in the fields and along the trails, attracting what is quite the show for an avid bird-watcher. The slew of tiny aviators is hard to miss through the forest floor and in the tree canopy overhead.
Benches are scattered throughout, allowing hikers and nature enthusiasts to admire the area.
More information on Noel S. Dorwart Memorial Park and Farmingdale trails can be found at co.lancaster.pa.us/easthemp... under the "Recreation/Golf Course" tab.
Next week's park: Shiprock Woods Nature Preserve