September 2015: Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area

Peters Mountain, Pennsylvania

Peter Allen built a stone house on the mountain that came to be named for him in 1726. The house, the oldest in Dauphin County, still stands at the intersection of PA 225 and PA 325. In 1962, Joseph Ibberson, a long-time Bureau of Forestry executive, began buying land here to create a tree farm and in 1998, the same year he was named Pennsylvania Tree Farmer of the Year, Ibberson donated his land to become the first conservation area in the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks.  

The trail system in this 350-acre swath of unbroken hardwood forest is a crown jewel for area canine hikers. The paths are wide, the woods are airy, and the choices are many. The only thing Ibberson Conservation Area lacks for canine hiking superstardom is varied access to water sources. A pleasant woodland pond is encountered along the Turkey Foot and Pine trails. For those sniffing out a challenge, the Victoria Trail - utilizing the historic Victoria Road that was used to drag timber to the iron furnace - grinds for two miles up to the Appalachian Trail on top of Peters Mountain.

This is a good place to observe forest succession. Pioneering species are typically pines that require healthy doses of sunshine. The original white pines and hemlocks that populated these slopes were mostly cut and mostly hardwood trees grew up in their place.

The Ibberson Conservation Area straddles Peters Mountain, north of Harrisburg. The park entrance is on the north side of the mountain. From Route 322/22, take PA 225 north over the mountain and turn right on Hebron Road near the bottom of the other side, a distance of about 4.5 miles. Follow Hebron for another 4.5 miles, bearing right at the forks in the road, until reaching the Conservation Area on the right.