Photo by Loy Elliott

South Mountain Geo-Trail

The South Mountain Geo-Trail – a family-friendly activity that weaves together the natural and cultural treasures of the South Mountain landscape.

The South Mountain Geo-Trail connects a series of geo-caches throughout the South Mountain landscape, and showcases an abundance of cultural and natural treasures from farms and farm markets to wineries, from forestlands and unique streams to historic sites and bustling recreation areas. Grab your GPS receiver and get ready to discover new corners of south-central Pennsylvania!

A South Mountain Geo-Trail passport has been created: each cache that is part of the Geo-Trail contains a unique keyword that can be written into the passport to verify that you found the cache. Use this passport to log your progress in visiting all of the caches within the South Mountain landscape.

To find GPS coordinates for the geo-caches that make up the South Mountain Geo-Trail, click below and search “Hidden By Username” for SMGeoTrail.

South Mountain Geo-Trail PassportGPS Coordinates


What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a worldwide recreational opportunity for Global Positioning System (GPS) users, and getting started is easy: all you need is a handheld GPS receiver and internet access.

Geo-caching is a modern treasure hunt. Participants navigate by GPS coordinates to look for and find a cache (or container). The website holds the repository of GPS coordinates that will guide you to established caches. Once you’ve found a cache, be sure to return it to its hidden spot to await the next finder.


Learn about the sites included within the South Mountain Geo-Trail

Ashcombe Farms and Greenhouses

Ashcombe was started over 40 years ago as a small road side fruit stand and has blossomed into a horticultural complex with over 55 production greenhouses, a nursery, two retail greenhouses, and more. As you'll see when you stop nearby to look for this cache, you probably shouldn't park on the grass. The last vehicle that did that is still there!

Meeting of the Pines Natural Area

The 611-acre Meeting of the Pines State Forest Natural Area, created in 1974 by the Bureau of Forestry, is a preserve within Michaux State Forest where both northern and southern species of pine grow in the same area. This unique site is the northern-most home for southern species and the southern-most home for northern species and includes five of Pennsylvania’s six native pine species; Virginia pine, table mountain pine, pitch pine, shortleaf pine, and white pine.

Cumberland County Historical Society

The Cumberland County Historical Society is the premier history center in south central Pennsylvania and one of the oldest historical societies in the nation. Located in the heart of downtown Carlisle, it is home to an award-winning museum that is free and open to the public. In addition, the History Center offers educational programs that include field trips, walking tours, classroom visits, history camps, and more. The extensive library and photo archives draw researchers from around the world, and the Shop expands the Center’s mission by offering demonstrations, works by local artists, and items relating to local history. In furtherance of the mission to collect, preserve, interpret and promote the rich history of Cumberland County, PA, the Center maintains the Two Mile House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and available for weddings and other special events.

Kriner Railroad Bridge, Norlo Park

The Kriner Railroad Bridge was moved by the Guilford Township Supervisors from Kriner Road to Norlo Park in 2001. This bridge was built in 1932 and installed on Kriner road by the Western Maryland Railway Company. This bridge complements the railroading theme on display at Norlo Park, which is located on the actual site of the former Pennsylvania Railroad line initially completed in 1872.

Lincoln Colored Cemetery

Lincoln Colored Cemetery has been maintained by Vietnam Veterans of the Mechanicsburg, PA Area since March of 1998. This peaceful ground is the resting place for 88 remains of African American decent of which there are 12 Civil War soldiers. Names, and info for some, are as follows:

  4. BUTLER, HENRY, CO. D / 22ND U. S. C. T.
  5. COOK, ENOCH S., 1820-1869 / CAROLINE COOK / 1822-1905
  7. JACKSON, REUBEN, MAR. 15, 1828 / JULY 22, 1909
  8. PINKNEY, J.W.
  10. RILEY, GEORGE W. , MAY 16, 1887. / AGED / 32 YRS. & 9 / MO. / ASLEEP IN JESUS
  11. SPRIGGS, JAMES, DIED / May 25, 1875 / Aged / 56 yrs. 1 mo. / &19 ds
Tradition holds that this cemetery was started expressly for use by slaves who escaped to the north via the underground railroad. The dates of burials and the fact that several soldier(s) from "colored" regiments are buried here tend to support this belief. Burials range in date from 1862 to 1955. A rumor suggests that at least some of these graves were moved from a cemetery that was originally located on West St. in Mechanicsburg. It was in the area where Simpson St and Main St come together. As you stand here in the Lincoln Colored Cemetery, you can view South Mountain. Just imagine a battle taking place in 1862. After invading Maryland in September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army to march on and invest Harpers Ferry. The Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain. On September 14, pitched battles were fought for possession of the South Mountain passes: Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps. By dusk the Confederate defenders were driven back, suffering severe casualties, and McClellan was in position to destroy Lee’s army before it could regroup. McClellan’s limited activity on September 15 after his victory at South Mountain, however, condemned the garrison at Harper's Ferry to capture and gave Lee time to unite his scattered divisions at Sharpsburg. Union general Jesse Reno and Confederate general Samuel Garland, Jr., were killed at South Mountain.   To our knowledge, the first African American was buried in this cemetery in 1862. If you look across the field opposite South Mountain, you will see the statue in Gates of Heaven cemetery. The “Colored” folks were not allowed to be buried there, so they found this spot nearby and formed this cemetery. A monument is constructed at the flag pole here in memory of our US Colored Troops. The flags are replaced at least once per year and are lighted by dusk to dawn solar lights.

Adams County Winery

Nestled against the base of South Mountain, the Adams County Winery is the region’s oldest winery, dating back to 1976. This small farm winery’s tasting room is located inside a 19th century Pennsylvania bank barn. To get here, you’ll drive through some of the region’s largest apple, peach and pear orchards -- but those aren’t the only fruits that enjoy the great climate in the valley east of the South Mountain. Grapes, too, thrive in this ideal landscape. And they are the secret of success at this location.

Meadowbrooke Gourds

The Meadowbrooke Gourds operates on a 200 acre farm which is tucked up against the roots of the Blue Mountains in central Pennsylvania. Our story began in 1994. It was a rare combination of circumstances that involved one curious farmer, a few dried gourds and a whole lot of ingenuity. We hope if you are ever in the Carlisle area you stop by and see for yourself what we do, how we do it and meet the group of good hearted people behind it all.

Hollabaugh Bros. Fruit Farm & Market

Hollabaugh Bros. Fruit Farm and Market is a 3rd generation family farm. For nearly 60 years, the Hollabaugh family has been farming on Yellow Hill. You are currently standing under a walnut tree which dates back to the late 1930’s.The pond is one of eleven spring-fed, man-made ponds on our farm used for the irrigation of 500 acres. Season-dependant, you might be looking at a large robotic-looking apparatus on the far side of the pond. This is a trickle irrigation pump. While one day we relied totally on “overhead” irrigation, today we “plant” the irrigation piping at the same time we plant our fruits and vegetables. When needed, water can then be “trickled” to the roots. If we need to apply fertilizers, we can choose to fertigate – a process of fertilizing AND irrigating at the same time!

White Rock Manor at Penn National

White Rock Manor, formerly Ross Common, is a two-story brick Georgian manor house that overlooks the white rocks and serves as the front door to the Penn National facility. The house is rich in history and has been renovated to preserve its character and ensure its place in history. The property, also known as the Penn National Inn, begins its documented history with Adam Ross, an Irish immigrant. He purchased two tracts of land from William and John Penn in 1789 and 1812 and called it ‘Rosscommon’. Adam Ross married Jane Chambers, the daughter of Col. Benjamin Chambers- the founder of Chambersburg. The exact date of the construction is not documented but construction was prior to 1820 and possibly as early as 1812. The date carved in the stone of the south gable of the barn is either 1833 or 1838. There is an undocumented story of Col. Jeb Stuart’s visit to White Rock Manor, which has not been recorded in history books, but the family has kept it alive from one generation to the next. White Rock Manor was renamed in 1844 to recognize the imposing rocks on the mountain to the east.

Fuller Lake at Pine Grove Furnace State Park

The lake before you is Fuller Lake, over 50 feet deep. Once an open pit, this was the site of an iron ore quarry during the days of iron production between 1764 and 1895. The land surrounding Pine Grove Furnace was not only rich with iron ore, but the other resources (ingredients) it took to successfully produce iron. Charcoal made from trees of the surrounding forest was used to heat the furnace. Water from the nearby stream was used to turn a water wheel, which powered bellows, heating the furnace over 1600ºF. At this temperature, rock would turn to liquid as iron would separate from the impurities in the rock. Limestone, which was culled from a separate quarry, was used as a “flux” that gathered together the impurities. This unusable by-product, “slag”, would float on top of the liquid iron and be drawn off before the iron was tapped. The metal was then poured into sand casts.

Land of Little Horses

There is an ongoing debate over whether a miniature horse possesses horse or pony characteristics. While technically, any member of the horse family under 58 inches is termed a “pony,” many breeds – including some miniature breeds – actually retain the characteristics of a horse. Miniature horses date back to the 17th century when they were bred as pets for Europe’s nobility, including French King Louis XIV. Not all miniature horses, however, were pampered pets of royalty. Some were used as “pit ponies,” working in coal mines around Northern Europe. Today, the American Miniature Horse is one of the world’s fastest growing and most beloved equine breeds. The Miniature Horse comes in a rainbow of coat colors and patterns and several body types, including draft and Arabian. Miniature horses are also used as companion animals for people with disabilities.

Cashtown Inn

To an unwary observer who stood in front of Cashtown Inn on June 29, 1863 – just days before the Civil War’s biggest battle – it must have looked as if the whole Rebel army had emerged from the rough, forested ridgeline when Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s Third Corps suddenly swung into view. Their crimson banners swayed with the liquid motion of marching soldiers, who were dressed in ragged butternut and gray. A gentle breeze carried with it the noise of rattling mess tins, the clanking of swords and bayonets. To Cashtown Innkeeper Jacob Mickley, who witnessed the spectacle, it appeared as if “the entire force under (Confederate General Robert E.) Lee...passed within twenty feet of my barroom.” Today, the Cashtown Inn – like it did back in 1814 – serves “for the entertainment of strangers and travelers,” with its relaxing bed and breakfast and fine dining restaurant and tavern.

Conococheague Institute

A Retirement Home …? Around the year of 1806, one Eliab Negley made the decision to retire from farming and turn the operation over to a son, including the large residence in which he’d raised his family. Thus came about what is now known here as the “Negley log house.” Built in the style of a German flurkuchenhaus, it has 2 front entry doors, 3 rooms downstairs, a sleeping loft and a partial basement which was used as a cold cellar. The house was occupied from then until 1955. When volunteers began restoration of the then derelict house in 1994, they found a treasure buried amongst the chinking behind the fireplace. A shoe of both Mr. & Mrs. Negley had been placed in the wall when it was built as a house blessing! To this day the cabin has a blessed, peaceful atmosphere. Come visit us at Conococheague Institute and see out other "treasures"!

Mount Holly Marsh Preserve

Welcome to the Mount Holly Marsh Preserve, a 900 acre natural area along the rocky slopes of South Mountain. The preserve contains 200 acres of marshland and 700 acres of upland forest. Popular activities at the preserve include 7 miles of hiking trails, fishing on Mountain Creek and hunting in the upland areas. Not far from the Geocache site was the location of the Mt. Holly Park, a once popular summer resort. Constructed in the in the early 20th century by the Carlisle and Mt. Holly Railway, the park encompassed much of the Mt. Holly Gap and extended into the preserve where a dam on Mountain Creek had created a lake. The railway company transported visitors to the park on a trolley route known as the “Trolley to Holly”. The park hosted activities including boating, hiking, ball fields, concerts, dances, bowling, and even a roller coaster!

Dogwood Acres Campground

Nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains where Cumberland and Perry County meet, across the valley from South Mountain, and where the hawks are seen flying above the Flat Rock overlook at 900 feet elevation. You can hike up to the top and can have a breathtaking 180° view of 50+ miles of the Cumberland Valley and Dogwood Acres Campground. It is just a short drive to the trails that bring you to Colonel Denning State Park, the Tuscarora Trail, and Flat Rock.

Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail

The Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail is an 11-mile rural recreational trail running from Shippensburg to Newville, Pa. This non-motorized, multi-use linear park is used by walkers, bicyclists, runners and horseback riders who enjoy nature and the great outdoors. The Rail-Trail follows the former railroad right-of-way of the historic Cumberland Valley Railroad (CVRR) that was completed in 1837 from Harrisburg to Carlisle. The CVRR made a major contribution to farming and industry in the valley by greatly improving access to markets on the East Coast and, also, played a strategic role during the Civil War. Troops and supplies were moved down the railroad for the battles in Virginia and points southwest. On a number of occasions the railroad was attacked by Confederate Troops. Passenger train service on the CVRR ended in 1952, and the last trains used the line in the early 1970’s. Work is currently underway to extend the Rail-Trail from Newville to Carlisle.

Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse

The existing property, fifty-seven acres known as "Allenberry-on-the-Yellow Breeches," owned and operated by the Heinze family since 1944 is part of two tracts of land originally owned by James Crockett and his heirs. Since that time, five other families have been the principal owners of the property. This fact is indicated on the outside wall of Fairfield Hall where the eight windows are inscribed. This truly beautiful piece of property bordering the trout-filled Yellow Breeches has provided a home and livelihood for six families over the past two hundred years. The Fairfield and Allenberry tracts were developed into prosperous working farms from 1786 until 1929. Thereafter the land now known as Allenberry-on-the Yellow Breeches was developed as a private estate, later becoming the site of a family business dedicated to providing recreation, relaxation and respite to all those who appreciate the rural tranquility of the Cumberland Valley. The Yellow Breeches Creek has developed a national reputation for professional Fly Fishing on this historical trout stream.

Willow Pond Farm

All Willow Pond Farm’s plants and gardens are cultivated in strict adherence to organic standards. For the past several years, the Wajda family has focused increasingly on lavender. More than three acres of plants thrive in the lavender fields with more planted each year. Tom Wajda propagates more than 100 varieties of lavender — including three exclusive varieties — and a number of unique and unusual herb and perennial plants. Madeline Wajda has developed a devoted following of food lovers with more than 30 kinds of herb and flower jellies, 20 herbal vinegars, and 12 varieties of herbal flavored honey, all using the farm’s certified organic herbs. Popular items include lavender jelly and honey, basil garlic vinegar, and lemon verbena honey. Every June – during Father’s Day Weekend – Willow Pond Farm is home to the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival, one of the region’s most unique events.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve & Environmental Center is a non-profit education and conservation organization located on 609 acres in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nestled in the South Mountain Range, Strawberry Hill offers outstanding opportunities to discover and explore the natural world. The preserve contains diverse habitats, including wet and dry woodlands, three ponds, and two mountain streams. Ten miles of trails meander through the property leading to unique rock formations, scenic vistas, and secret glades. Open to the public, we welcome hikers, families, school children, teachers, photographers, birders, and nature lovers alike to visit. We invite the community to take part in nature by participating in one of our various education programs, fair and festivals, hiking programs, bird watching, and much more.

Round Barn

Most round barns were built from 1900-1920, primarily in the Northeast and west through Wisconsin. Now only a handful of true round barns, or barrel barns, remain in the United States. Of the three remaining barrel barns in Pennsylvania, one is alive and well in Adams County. This spectacular structure was built by the Noah Sheely family in 1914. The barn has a circumference of 282 feet, and is constructed around a central silo measuring 60 feet high and 12 feet wide. The silo acts as a “hub” with 38 spokes that form the interior structure and support for the second floor, which offers an incredible view of the roof. The barn was originally constructed to house cattle and horses, but now houses a Farm Market. The Round Barn Farm itself also has a place in the history of the apple industry in Adams County, as the site of one of the first large commercial apple acreages (2,000 trees). Today the Knouse’s, who have been growing fruit for multiple generations, operate the Round Barn Farm Market and surrounding farm.

Fairfield Inn

The Fairfield Inn is one of the region’s most historic inns, dating back more than 250 years ago. Among its distinct and historic guest rooms is the Grumble Jones room, named for the Confederate general who fought in the Battle of Fairfield, a cavalry engagement fought directly to the back of the Inn’s property on July 3, 1863. While a minor fight compared to the Battle of Gettysburg, the mission was an important one. William E. “Grumble” Jones was charged by General Robert E. Lee with the task of securing the vital Hagerstown Road. Jones and his brigade succeeded and after this bloody battle, the Inn was used as a Civil War Hospital for many of Grumble Jones’ soldiers. The remaining unscathed troops camped near Fairfield, keeping the road open for Lee’s retreat and then guarded the rear as the Army of Northern Virginia moved through the Fairfield Gap on July 4 and 5, 1863.

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