Located outside of the scenic village of Millersburg is the Ned Smith Center, named for a well-respected wildlife and outdoors painter who was born in the town. Ned Smith’s paintings graced many magazine covers, and he also once worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He passed away in 1985 and his paintings now sell for over $60,000.
The center is committed to the study of nature and art. It features two galleries, one of them being the paintings of Ned Smith. There are wildflowers and several miles of trails, not to mention the Wiconsico Creek.
I drove to the center to be greeted by an amazing display of blooming false sunflower and bee balm. I toured the exhibits and saw the impressive paintings. I then headed onto the trails as I walked down to the creek, passing large tulip poplar trees. A large footbridge crossed the creek and began a loop that required a climb up to the ridge.
The trail system is extensive, and a little confusing. The trails do not seem to correlate exactly to the map, but the map is fairly accurate. The trail took me to a fine rail-trail and I followed the Mountain Laurel Trail to the Deer Run Trail. The trails were fairly well established, although a little brushy in places. The forests were exclusively hardwoods. Along the way I passed an Eastern Box Turtle. I next followed the Lenker Trail to Berry’s Mountain Trail, which was an old woods road on the crest of the ridge. I followed this to a powerline swath with views to the north and south. The south revealed the Susquehanna River and Peters Mountain, which hosts the Appalachian Trail.
The trail descended very steeply down the swath to the rail trail, which I followed back to complete the loop. While the hike was nice, the forests on the North Trails (north side of the creek) seemed to be more scenic. The North Trails, however, are quite short.
The Ned Smith Center hosts numerous events and programs, making it an ideal destination for those who love art and nature.
While in the area, I decided to check out a vista in the nearby Weiser State Forest. I drove to the end of Wolf Pond Road and hiked past a gate into a large meadow at the rim of the mountain. The view was spectacular, featuring farms, rolling ridges and mountains that faded into the summer heat. It would be a remarkable place to see a sunset.
I then drove back to Millersburg. My plan was to see a friend who lived in Newport, on the other side of the river. But how would I cross the river? I could drive down to Duncannon, or take the Millersburg Ferry across the river. I chose the ferry, and a new adventure awaited…
More information on the Ned Smith Center.
More information on Weiser State Forest.