Discover Rider Park, a Lycoming County Gem

In the distance, a bench sits below a few trees in front of an overlook.

Rider Park, nestled in Lycoming County PA, spans 867 acres and is a great daytrip destination for folks seeking some short day hikes. Located just 15 minutes north of Williamsport, near Warrensville, the park offers an escape into nature. The park’s namesake, Thomas J. Rider, a local philanthropist and conservationist, envisioned the land as a sanctuary for the public to enjoy.

The park boasts several hiking trails suitable for all levels of hikers. Whether you’re on the Katy Jane or the Francis X. Kennedy trails, you’re promised stunning views and immersive forest experiences. One of the park’s highlights is the panoramic vistas it offers, with views stretching up to 20 miles on clear days, encompassing the Lycoming Creek and Loyalsock Creek valleys. On my recent visit, I hiked both the Francis X. Kennedy and Katy Jane trails.

Looking for other ways to experience the beauty of Lycoming County? Check out this covered bridge tour!

Katy Jane Hike

Rider Park’s Katy Jane Trail, you will ascend Katy Jane Mountain 465 feet to two beautiful vistas. The Katy Jane East Vista, the first you’ll encounter, overlooks the Loyalsock Gorge and, more distantly, Smith Knob and the Allegheny Mountain Range. Continue progressing along the trail a bit more — uphill — and you’ll soon encounter the Katy Jane West Vista. This overlook, at 1510 feet elevation, provides sweeping views of Loyalsock Creek and Bald Eagle Mountain. If you complete the whole trail, you’ll travel 2.6 miles. To make it shorter, after the second overlook, take a right to the Saddle Trail to make it into an easy loop.

Katy Jane Mountain has long been associated with the Underground Railroad. In the legends of the mountain, Katy Jane could be one of two women, or a combination of both. In one version, Katy Jane is a freedom seeker who settled in the area. She would climb the mountain each night holding lanterns to signal to freedom seekers that it was safe to cross Loyalsock Creek. In another version, Katy Jane is a Quaker woman whose home was at the base of the mountain. She led freedom seekers over the old stagecoach road to Trout Run, where they were hidden on train baggage cars northbound on the Williamsport-Elmira Railroad.

Frances X. Kennedy Trail

The Frances X. Kennedy Trail rises 252 feet in a mile-long out-and-back trail. The payoff is the incredible Doe Pen Vista, elevation 1146 feet, overlooking Loyalsock Creek, well hidden by trees and Allegheny Ridge. I found this trail well marked; it offered a pleasant second hike at the park (and my third that day). There’s a picnic table at the overlook, making me regret not bringing a meal to enjoy with that million dollar view!

You need to look down as well as up in Rider Park. In addition to the incredible views, there’s beauty at the ground level. Nature lovers will enjoy the diverse flora and fauna in Rider Park. I saw a variety of fungi and late summer wildflowers. From hardwood forests to bubbling streams, the park is a biodiversity hotspot, perfect for birdwatching, photography and simply soaking in nature.

Know Before You Go

Choose from four major trails (plus supporting trails) offering terrain for all fitness levels. Combine trails for longer hikes or link up with a trail in adjacent Loyalsock State Forest. Check out the park trail map before you go, and make sure you save it to your phone.

Getting there: Caleb Creek Rd, Trout Run, PA
Hours: daylight
Website: Rider Park

One Reply to “Discover Rider Park, a Lycoming County Gem”

  1. Kyle Grugan says:

    I’ve lived around here all my life and have never gone to that park. I hate doing things alone that’s probably why I haven’t gone.

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