Editor's note: Each Sunday throughout the summer, Lancaster Newspapers interns report on a hiking trail they experienced firsthand.
Landis Woods has more than just hiking trails offering visitors a rigorous workout.
"Within Landis Woods is the Boettcher House Museum, which houses a small museum and nature center, as well the Landis Woods Performing Arts Center," Margie Earnest, director of the Manheim Township Department of Recreation and Park Planning, pointed out.
The original tract for the park, located off Lititz Pike in Manheim Township, was acquired in 1989; the second tract, in 1993.
This 69.9-acre park offers one of the township's largest tracts of natural, undeveloped land, Earnest said. "The park is heavily used and a favorite in this township of 37,000 people."
The park is open to pets and is a good place for bird-watching, bicycling and cross-country skiing, she noted.
Visitors are welcome to trek the park's circuitous Red, Blue, Yellow and Heritage trails, totaling 3.6 miles, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
To the left of Boettcher House, the Red Trail is the main path from which the other three trails stem. The Red Trail, at only 0.3 miles, is the clearest of the four, consisting mainly gravel and dirt. The other trails are more rugged and overgrown with plants. Sneakers and old clothing are appropriate.
The Blue and Yellow trails, at 1.5 miles and one mile, respectively, overlap one another through most of the park. They tend to become a bit of a maze, so hikers should carry a map, which is available at Boettcher House.
Heritage Trail, at 0.8 mile, is paved and the most accessible path.
All four trails, though not long, are rigorous, so visitors should bring water to stay hydrated.
The trails are marked by trees spray-painted with the trail's color name; wooden directional signs are staked into the ground. The signs can be confusing and lead to a dead end - but that's part of the adventure.
There is a beautiful canopy of foliage as well as plenty of poison ivy, which visitors will want to note and avoid.
At the center of all this is the Boettcher House Museum, built in 1920 and previously known as Napolitan House. The cozy, cabinlike structure with a patio not only contains the archives of township history, but can also accommodate 50 people for meetings, banquets and small parties.
Its main use is as a nature education center. A taxidermy display allows visitors to see brown bear cubs, a snowy owl, a variety of birds and foxes found in Lancaster County.
Proof of coyotes in Manheim Township is also exhibited in the Napolitan Room via a picture of a wild dog captured in November 2005.
Naturalist Gina Dotterweich, of York, helps part time at the summer camp offered there.
"We learn about a new nature topic every day," Dotterweich said. Children ages 7 to 11 can participate in full-day camp activities, such as dissecting sharks, catching fish in the stream, and going on nature walks, Dotterweich said.
For more information about Landis Woods, call 290-7180 or visit manheimtownship.org.
Next week: Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve.