Wild Phlox & Bluebell Show at Shenk’s Ferry in Late April

Shenk’s Ferry was spectacular the third week of April. I’m thrilled I made it there this Spring flowering season. It’s a bit of a drive to get there from the mountains, but definitely worth the effort.

I was just as excited to read that the property was transferred from PPL to the Lancaster Conservancy as of 2014. We’re hoping it will remain in its present state for generations to come!

Many Flowers of Wildphlox
Many Flowers of Wildphlox

Getting to Shenk’s Ferry has been a little exciting in years past. If you’ve got a truck or another vehicle with a higher clearance that would be the vehicle to take there. The road leading to the entrance of the Wildflower Preserve was in better shape this time than past years where you worried that the car would bottom out on the deep ruts in the dirt road. You could see where somebody had some fun off-roading creating those ruts!

Shenk’s Ferry Road will lead you to Green Hill Road which leads downhill to the preserve. It’s a dirt road that lies at the bottom of several hills that drain Lancaster County as rain water rushes down into the Susquehanna River.

It appeared that recent work had been done on the road, but just go slow and you’ll be fine. Through the tunnel and bear left and keep going to the entrance. Park along the road.

Stop at the sign at the entrance to check the trail map and see some photos of the flora you might be able to see.

Room Enough for Two
Room Enough for Two

The trail is wide enough in most spots for a couple to walk hand-in-hand. Be watchful for

rocks and tree roots to not trip you up when you’ve got your eyes on the flowers or stuck to your camera.

Earlier in April bloodroot already bloomed, see Flower Power article from lancasteronline. By the 20th of April the trillium was looking a bit after peak.

I mention the particulars of getting there as it’s nice to appreciate the preserve in its larger setting. If you look at a map and pan-out to see the bigger picture, you’ll see that Shenk’s Ferry sits on the northern side of the Susquehanna River, although train tracks are situated in between the preserve and the river.

The natural setting is a series of hills and valleys that line this side of the river. Each valley between hillsides is probably special in its own right with its own collection of wildflowers and local history.

As I walked along the path I wondered how long people were using that path. Hundreds of years, no doubt, maybe longer.

Once you go through the tunnel on the way there start looking into the woods. If its been a rainy Spring, you’ll be treated to several kinds of flowers. In the low areas we’ve seen Trillium and Dutchman’s breeches with Squirrel corn. On the hills we’ve seen great stands of Bluebells and Wild Phlox.

Bluebells Cover the Hillsides At Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Glen
Bluebells Cover the Hillsides At Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Glen

This April has been on the dry side but the Bluebells were putting on a show on the hillsides anyway.

Here’s my list of flowers photographed on April 20, 2016.

  • wild phlox
  • white trillium
  • red trillium – one!
  • white violet
  • yellow violet
  • purple violet
  • Indian strawberry
  • spring beauty
  • Dutchman’s britches
  • squirrel corn
  • blue cohosh – one!
  • yellow corydalis
  • anise root
  • dogwood tree
  • golden ragwort
  • saxifrage
  • wild columbine

The trail passed under two energy cutouts on the way to the train tunnel at the end of the trail. Look for different plants to grow in these open, sunny areas as compared to the more protected forested zones where the spring wildflowers are blooming now.

There was a line past which no bluebells grew on the south side of the first power line crossing. It probably coincided with the shade line of the trees. None of the bluebells were in full sun.

Blue Bells in Shenk's Ferry
Blue Bells in Shenk’s Ferry

If you’re not familiar with the flower names, look for the orange and black plant tags to learn a few.

The trip was great – we were rewarded with so many flowers to see and smell! Great scenery on the way through the farmlands, too.

Bluebell Flowers Start Out Pink
Bluebell Flowers Start Out Pink

The trail was sparsely populated and everyone was friendly. Not one dog or motorized vehicle. No trash to be seen on the trail, either. 🙂

If you can make a little time for it, go in April or May to see the Spring flowers. Summer would be fun too as different flowers bloom then.

3 thoughts on “Wild Phlox & Bluebell Show at Shenk’s Ferry in Late April

  1. I love your blog, and make a yearly trip to Shenk’s Ferry for the lovely spring flowers. Just recently, on my search for Lady Slippers, I ran into this very different flowering plant.
    It was like a flesh colored finger jutting up from the ground, with rows of pitcher-like flowers all along the sides. These fingers were also grouped. They were on a wooded hillside. I have a picture but not sure how to upload to this comment. Do you have any ideas what it is?? Many thanks for your delightful insights on nature ..Darlene

  2. Hi Darlene, Thanks!
    Isn’t Shenk’s Ferry just lovely?!
    Can you send me the photo? wilde AT wildeherb.com
    How big was the plant?

  3. Yes, I just love Shenk’s Ferry. The plant was about 3-4 inches tall. I will send a photo. Thanks for helping!!

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