Editor's note: Each Sunday throughout the summer, Lancaster Newspapers interns will report on a hiking trail they experienced firsthand.
It would be easy to drive right past the entrance of the Ferncliff Wildflower and Wildlife Preserve without a second glance.
A venture into this hidden wooded trail, however, reveals a scenic hike with something new around every corner.
The 64-acre preserve, in southwestern Lancaster County's Drumore Township, can be entered through a path off of Bald Eagle Road.
Ferncliff is recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. The program, which has selected nearly 600 properties in the country, recognizes a site's outstanding biological and geological resources.
Ferncliff is the only National Natural Landmark in Lancaster County.
The .6-mile trail, which is open only to hikers, follows a dirt path along Barnes Run, a direct tributary of the Susquehanna River.
The creek begins on the right of the path, splits to both sides and then converges again at a waterfall.
Each turn of the winding path produces a different natural spectacle, including small waterfalls, various wildlife and tall River Hills timberland trees.
The area features tulip, redbud, hemlock, beech, chestnut, sycamore, white oak and red maple trees, according to the Lancaster County Conservancy. Rhododendron, ferns and mountain laurel also occupy the ravine.
During April and May, visitors come to see the abundant wildflowers throughout the preserve. The site is home to both common and very unusual wildflowers, including round-leaved stemless violet, putty root and crane-fly orchids.
The path is relatively easy and level. Hikers will need to cross a small creek on loose stones; therefore, sturdy shoes are a necessity.
Visitors also should expect a somewhat muddy hike, especially after a recent storm. Fallen trees impede some of the trail, but are not too difficult to pass.
The path seemingly ends at a railroad track. Climb up the hill to the track, though, and there appears a spectacular and expansive views of the Susquehanna River.
The area also is home to an abundance of wildlife, including a variety of birds. With a bit of luck, visitors could spot a bald eagle during their hike.
"You never know what you're going to see there," said Tom Stahl, director of stewardship for the Lancaster County Conservancy.
Ferncliff was donated to the Conservancy as a part of Benton Hollow by Henry H. Huffnagle in 1996.
The Conservancy protects more than 2,900 acres of land for the public's enjoyment as well as for the health of the ecosystem.
"Preservation is important for future generations," Stahl said.
The preserve is open year-round to hikers, and, like all of the Conservancy's properties, it closes at dusk.
Hunting, fishing and horseback riding are prohibited on the trail. Parking is very limited.
Hikers are encouraged to abide by the old adage, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints."
For more information, visit lancasterconservancy.org.
Next week: Chickies Rock County Park.