Editor's note: Each Sunday throughout the summer, Lancaster Newspapers interns are reporting on a hiking trail they experienced firsthand.
Experiencing Shiprock Woods Nature Preserve is a bit of a hike.
It's up a hill, down a hill, up a hill and through a meadow; hikers can expect a beautiful, if short, workout.
Just off Shiprock Road in Willow Street, the 38-acre tract is a quick 8-mile drive from Penn Square. Despite being so close to the city, Tom Stahl, director of stewardship for Lancaster County Conservancy, says visitation to the preserve is "moderate throughout the week."
Shiprock's volunteer of land stewardship, who does necessary maintenance on the trail once or twice a month, claims its small size is an asset.
"It's easy to drive by the property and not see it," he said. "The area is simple and undiscovered."
At just over a mile in total length, the preserve's blue-blazed loop trail is a great beginner hike for area residents, as it boasts an array of features representative of other conservancy properties, the volunteer said.
"The trail is unique because it goes through a little ravine and then a field, a bridge, over a stream," agreed Stahl. "It's varied."
Walking conditions switch between a narrow uphill forest floor and 4-foot-wide mowed paths through tall grass in a meadow, where many different butterfly species like to flutter about.
Stahl says the property is likewise notable for its second-growth forest.
Hikers who put in the necessary effort and take the right path will be rewarded with a collection of 150- to 200-year-old oak trees. One notable white oak tree is 45- to 50-inches in diameter.
The volunteer, who lives close to the preserve and who asked not to be identified, says he often uses the trail for exercise.
"Nature offers many perspectives," he said. "You can walk a trail every day and still see something different."
Two unnamed tributaries of Pequea Creek run through the property, culminating in a scenic ravine near the halfway point of the loop.
The land was acquired by the conservancy in 2005 from landowner Abe Keener. It had been in the family's possession since the early 1970s.
If visitors continue past the tip of the loop trail, they will come to a 36-foot-long high arch bridge built by Nolan Synoracki, of Willow Street, for his Eagle Scout project in 2009.
Geocachers - it's a treasure-hunting game using a GPS - will be able to find a treat hidden somewhere along the trail. Coordinates can be found on the conservancy's website.
Typical Pennsylvania wildlife such as white-tailed deer, foxes, squirrels, rabbits and groundhogs can all be spotted in the woods.
Stahl says he's also seen wild turkeys on the trails this time of year.
Other feathered friends perching and singing there include various songbirds, raptors, hummingbirds and woodpeckers.
Hikers in mid- to late-summer should take care to carry a stick. Since the preserve is wooded and less frequented, friendly spiders tend to build webs across the trail.
Hunting is prohibited. While fishing is fine, it would be unlikely to catch anything in the two shallow water features.
Next week look for Horseshoe Trail in Northern Lancaster County.