#20 - State Game Lands 242
Property Manager: Pennsylvania Game Commission (814) 643-1831
GPS address: (242 Shooting Range) 1890 State Rte 4026, Dillsburg, PA 17019, (turn left onto Old Mountain Road to find the areas mentioned before arriving at the Shooting Range)
There are several accesses on Game Road, Old Mountain Road and Old York Road.
Hours: Dawn til Dusk
Parking: At SGL 242 there are a dozen parking areas. Download the map from https://www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/StateGameLands/Documents/SGL%20Maps/SGL__242.pdf
Restrooms: Restrooms are not available.
Safety Reminders: Do not bird in these locations during popular hunting periods. Be smart always wear blaze orange if you choose to bird this property (as typically some game is in season throughout the year). It is required by law to wear fluorescent orange hat and vest when you are in gamelands from November 15-December 15th. First Sunday of rifle season is open to hunting do not go birding on this date. Some areas are posted March 1-June 15th for no entry, please follow all posted signs. Do not park in “no parking areas” or interfere with those hunting. Familiarize yourself with rules as the Game Commission may allow Sunday hunting soon. In the future one may even need a permit for non-hunting activities (not needed at this time).
Best Birding: Sundays and not during popular game seasons. Dawn until dusk.
Site Description: This area is managed by the PA Game Commission. The large property is 1,531 acres, located in Warrington and Carrol Townships. The terrain in the forest portions is quite hilly. Field habitat is present with different plantings in each field. The highest point is near Nell’s Hill at 1,325 ft above sea level. It is one of the highest points in the county. Beaver Creek runs through the lowlands of the property and there is a large pond with limited seasonal access for viewing waterbirds. The blue-blazed Mason-Dixon Trail also runs through this property as it does five of the other locations on York County’s Birding Map.
One can begin birding SGL 242 by checking the fields near the Old York Road parking lots. Parking area 242-15 is good for this. Without using any trails a listener in the parking area will hear (in addition to traffic noise) summer time songs from Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, and Eastern Towhees in the hedgerows. Fall and winter blackbirds and sparrows are typically here in modest numbers. For those looking for adventure, quieter roads, and the best birding this property has to offer, turn on to Old Mountain Road from Old York Road. The next 3 areas require a bit of hiking (some on the Mason-Dixon Trail) to get into some of the habitat. This should only be attempted on Sundays or non-hunting days.
At 242-35, the closest parking area on Old Mountain Road to Old York Road, you will find a power line cut, field, forest, and pond. The field, power line, and forest are accessible during spring migration, but the pond is closed off from March 1st-June 15th. The pond area has potential in the late summer and early fall for a lot of great birds. The area may provide stop over habitat for Sora, Virginia Rail, Bitterns, Herons, small pond ducks, and wetland songbirds. There is no full walking loop around the pond. As a hiker out and back is your best option. The field which is north of the pond is always worth a short hike for grassland birds and Ring-necked Pheasant. Red-tailed Hawk is common here. There is a short trail through the field. Mar-June 15th take a left at the yellow posted no entry sign to avoid going into the pond area, this will take you into the field.
A short drive to parking area 242-40 gives you a chance to explore a field edged by a large conifer stand. Cross old mountain road and hike behind the gate along the wide path. The conifer stand in the back is worth scanning for Great Horned Owl and other raptors. The Mason-Dixon Trail can also be picked up here at the edge of the conifers. Hiking west on the trail you will cross Old Mountain Road and head up the hill through a forest with a decent amount of mature American Beech which is not that typical in this part of York. Within the forest Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, and breeding Ovenbird are common. Cerulean Warbler and other uncommon to rare warblers are reported during migration occasionally in this forest. This same route (away from the steep downhill) takes you towards parking area 242-55 which is on the western edge of the property. Hiking down the steep hill and to the east will take you to another field on the property of SGL 242.
Lastly park at 242-55 (off of Old Mountain Road near its intersection with Robson Road) hike uphill on a wide path from the parking area into an open forest. Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in this area. Other open forest birds including Eastern Bluebird are viewed here. The Mason-Dixon Trail goes by near the top of the hill. It is visible after walking a moderate distance from the parking area. You can continue east to reach the “Beech forest” and conifers mentioned earlier, but that hike is about a mile to the previous location near the conifers. It is hilly and about an hour in length depending on your speed.
Please remember on State Game Lands birding is a lawful recreational activity, but it should be practiced safely and responsibly. Do not bird here when hunters are using the property for its primary purpose. Wear blaze orange. Sundays and non-hunting season days are acceptable times to bird SGL 242.