Conservation Atlas Spotlight – Sand Hills

Pennsylvania Highlands Conservation Atlas Story Map Spotlight – Sand Hills

To access the full Story Map, click HERE.

The AMC Mid-Atlantic office has updated and expanded the 2006 PA Highlands Conservation Atlas into 12 interactive Story Maps which include updated conserved lands, conservation areas, and historic and recreational resources, such as the PA Highlands Trail.

This atlas was developed to build awareness about the importance of the Pennsylvania Highlands region by portraying the special places and resources found there. It is also a call for action to help protect this incredible and threatened region.

Conservation Area: Sand Hills (

Our next Conservation Area spotlight is Sand Hills, found in lower Dauphin County, which stands alone as the bastion of natural resources along the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River. This area contains expansive woodlands and unique geologic features that have helped shape the heritage and character of its people and communities.

Sand Hills Conservation Area within the PA Highlands
Sand Hills Conservation Area within the PA Highlands

Natural Resources: Important habitats for a multitude of animals have been identified by the Dauphin County Natural Areas Inventory within the Sand Hills conservation area. Some of these habitats include the Round Top Thicket in northeast Londonderry Township, boulder belts of local significance, and the Iron Run Dam site. Both habitat areas contain Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program Species of Special Concern including the rough-leaved aster, eastern coneflower, and sand blackberry. Specifically, within Iron Run Dam is the Susan Cole Natural Area which supports three Species of Special Concern.

Sand Hills is located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and it’s streams ultimately flow into the Susquehanna River. The waterways found here, Iron Run and Swatara Creek, are designated as Warm Water Fisheries by the Department of Environmental Protection to address the degradation caused by humans.

Historical/Cultural Resources: You can find many historical and cultural resources in and around the Sand Hills conservation area. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places includes the quarries of the Hummelstown Brownstone Company – which covered about 1,000 acres and produced blue, purplish, rosy-pink and chocolate colored stone. Also found within the Sand Hills are the Henry Smith Farm and Milton S. Hershey Mansion.

Recreational Resources: State Game Lands 246 and the 13.5-mile Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail are just two of the loved recreational resources found in Sand Hills. The memorial trail also provides access to parks, neighborhoods, and commercial establishments.

Interactive Map (screenshot): Follow this link to explore the Sand Hills conservation area through an interactive map that shows climbing sites, critical treasures, fishing and boating access, park and recreation areas, cultural resources, Audubon Important Bird Areas, and more! Sand Hills (


Local Organizations:

Dauphin County Park and Recreation 

Manada Conservancy 

South Central Assembly