To say they’re the perfect complements would be the perfect compliment.
They go together like nature and man, like habitat and humanity, like town and country. The beauty lies within both their similarities and their contrasts.
Not every town has a nature park in the middle of it, but every town should.
Annville is already a great place to live. Quittie Creek Nature Park simply takes that quality of living up a notch.
By Lebanon County standards, Quittie Creek Nature Park is not a big park. Nor is it an old park.
But one would be hard-pressed to identify a local park that is better situated, or suited for its location.
“There’s this new kind of thing called ‘forest bathing,’” said Danielle Hand, who’s been the chair of the Quittie Creek Nature Park committee for the last five years. “It means being in nature. Your stress level just automatically goes down. As you go there, you just feel calmer. And exercise is so important as well. We like to see that.
“That calm feeling just comes over you,” continued Hand. “As you get there, you can feel the peacefulness, the sound of the water running. We’re not really meant to be separated from nature. We need to be connected to the natural world. I think we could all use that. Let’s face it, things are stressful right now. We all need a break.”
In that way, Quittie Creek Nature Park is an escape, a refuge, but it’s located only a few short steps from the real world.
Situated off of Bachman Road, not far from Annville’s town square, Quittie Creek Nature Park is sort of the hidden gem of Lebanon County’s recreational parks. It’s 36.6 acres of pristine nature is tamed just enough to allow humans to enjoy it to the fullest.
Longer than it is wide, what makes the park is the flowing waters of the Quittapahilla Creek. Quittie Creek Nature Park is owned by Annville Township and maintained by the efforts of the civic group Friends of Old Annville.
“A lot of people use the park, especially for running and exercising,” said Hand. “You can find Lebanon Valley College students there practicing team sports. People come and do fishing there. It’s a community park, despite the fact that a lot of people don’t know where it is. It’s kind of tucked away. It is quite like a gathering spot.
“If you go there on a warm day, the parking lot is pretty full,” added Hand. “But people can also walk in from the town. There are all kinds of trails there. The main trail is really flat. We really wanted to make it accessible for people. But there are trails on the hills as well.”
There is plenty to do at Quittie Creek Nature Park. Just leave your electronic devices at home.
The park features both a stream-side trail and woodland trails, as well as a foot bridge, two ponds, the remains of an 18th-century grist mill, very mature trees, picnic tables and benches. Quittie Creek Nature Park is also home to various species of wildlife, including owls, deer, foxes, ducks, fish, frogs, eagles and the great blue heron.
“There are some unique species of birds there,” said Hand. “The more you go there, the more you’ll see. Every time we’ve made it bigger, it raises the excitement level. Like, ‘there’s more to explore here.’”
At its most basic level, Friends of Old Annville’s main goal for Quittie Creek Nature Park is to have it be used, for people to enjoy it. Over the years, Annville’s unwavering sense of community has manifested itself with more and more local events being staged there.
“In my time, I think more people are enjoying it now,” said Hand. “We’ve definitely spent time getting the word out about it. It’s so pleasant to go to a park. You just have to let people know it’s there. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the park.
“I think there are a lot of people outside of Annville who don’t even know that it’s there,” Hand continued. “We tried to get a sign pointing to the park because we wanted to make it easier to find. It’s a peaceful place to exercise. On hot days, you can be in the shade most of the day.”
The back story on how Quttie Creek Nature Park came to exist is a tale in itself.
The current park grounds was home to Bachman’s Mill in the 1740s, and around 1816, a limestone quarry operated there. In the 1960s and 70s, people started to dump stuff there, some of which may have been toxic.
But in 1989, a group of concerned Annville citizens approached Annville Township about cleaning up the site and using it for recreation. Two years later, Quittie Creek Nature Park was formerly dedicated.
“It’s really a great resource because it’s right in the town,” said Hand. “It can make a big impact on the town and the way the community functions. There are opportunities for more things there. It can be a great place for learning about nature. It can be great for community involvement. I think every town should have a Quittie Park. It’s a huge plus that draws people in. You can’t put a price tag on it.”
While Quittie Creek Nature Park has certainly evolved over time, what makes it special is how much it has stayed true to nature.
In 2007, the pedestrian bridge was built, and five years later an additional 11 acres was added to the original 23. In 2018, a private donor contributed 2.6 acres to the west side of the park, along The Quittie.
“We’ve wanted to put a fishing accessible area in there, but it’s one of those projects that we haven’t been able to get to yet,” said Hand. “A big dream would be to extend one of the trails from Annville down towards Lebanon, so people could walk in the same park. It would be nice to have more infrastructure and to allow people to exercise more. We could use more money to do some of those things. When we’ve asked for money in the past, we haven’t had any trouble getting donations.
“It’s really about stress management,” Hand continued. “We all need to get away from the everyday world. It’s also a community thing, You can meet people there and you can see people there that you know. It’s a community resource and a way for people to feel connected to the community. I’m sure there are people from other towns who go there too.”
Because nothing goes together quite like a park and a town.
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