The Underground of the Conestoga Trail (Cold Cave) (Wind Cave)

Less than a mile south of the Pequea boat launch in Pequea, Pa, there is quite possibly my favorite place in Lancaster County. Wind Cave (aka Cold Cave) lies along the Conestoga Trail (orange blazes) and can be reached from two direction. Usually I will park along River Road on the side of the road near where the trail crosses River Road, and from there it is only a short walk until you see the brightly marked orange blazes leading you into the woods. The other entrance is through Reed Run/ House Rock, which is not directly on the Conestoga trail so you must first hike down the blue blazes and take a right turn when you find the orange blazes. Either way Cold Cave is reachable with somewhere around a mile hike, but the Reed Run entrance is less steep. I have probably been to the cave 40-50 times, and each time I find myself finding a new passage. When approaching from the north (River Road entrance), you will see what almost looks like an overgrown boulder field lying along the ridge-line you have just come up. When approaching from the south, you must first climb down much of the rock to reach the main entrance. The entrance itself looks like a vertical slice in the earth, probably around 10 feet tall, but only a few feet wide (at the entrance). If you are there without headlamps and want to stay dry, you can still walk about 100 feet into the cave without needing much of any artificial light. From this point you will see a split in the path, one that continues straight and one off to the right (which you must climb over a rock to crawl into). In many of my recent trips, I havent bothered to go down the straight path, because it basically only goes straight back and one can either take a low path or higher path that goes to the same end. two redeeming factors is that at the end of the passage, you will find a huge crack that slowly gets narrower as it goes straight back. I’ve shimmied my way down as far as I could, but two years of college have made me a little too wide to get far. The second cool thing about this path is if you take the higher road, you can do some somewhat acrobatic climbing to get very close to the surface and even see some sunlight. I’ve only done it a few times as it would make for a very painful fall if I fell.

Now lets move on to the right, for there are several passages that makes this cave as incredible as it is. If you go down to the right, you will find yourself crouching down as you progress down several slopes. The first (and best) room can be found if, once you are able to stand back up, you continue straight until there is a large boulder suspended forcing you to go to the right. If you go to the right you will find a small room and the entrance to the aptly named section of the cave dubbed “hell”. However the largest room can be reached if you either go over or under that large boulder, and there is usually a puddle to show you where you must slide under. If you go under, you must crawl as far straight as possible and then go vertical until you reach the room (which is named by vandals as the Cathedral of Fun), or if you go over the boulder you basically crawl forward as much as possible and climb vertically (less than if you go under) to reach the room. This room is nearly 20 feet high and probably three times as wide, and has lots of ledges that can be climbed. If you continue straight in this room there is what seems to be a garbage dump and although it is possible that it leads somewhere, the broken glass kept me from crawling down very far.

Going back to if you go to the right before the boulder, the room to the right is fairly small but has a couch-shaped seat that is fun to relax for a bit. the label of “hell” points downward at the far end of the room, but I warn you this section of the cave all looks the same and can be very claustrophobic and disorienting. But for the adventurous person with some way of retracing their steps, it is a fun part of the cave, and I have found a way to get back to the main part of the cave (but I honestly couldn’t tell you how).

Near where the boulder is, you may see a third passage that leads even further down, and after walking down this path for a ways you will find yourself looking over the edge of about a 10 foot drop. This is where the cave used to have a wooden bridge, but has since been taken out. Instead here is where you must harness your inner Spiderman, and crawl between the two walls of the cave with your back against one wall and your feet propped up on the other. This can be done fairly easily going up or down so no problem! once you can put your feet down, it is only a short walk to a third room, which uniquely has an exit leading to the outside! this exit is much more challenging than the main entrance, but is accomplished by climbing toward the light you can see. Once you manage to get out, you can see where you began your adventure to the right!

This is the best description I can give of the cave, but I hope someone will ask some questions regarding directions or anything else!

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11 thoughts on “The Underground of the Conestoga Trail (Cold Cave) (Wind Cave)

      1. I have seen scouts at the cave before, so as long as everyone brings headlamps it would be a great trip. There are a few spots that can be somewhat dangerous, but depending on the age of the troop that shouldn’t be an issue. If you are looking for other hikes nearby check out the Lancaster County Conservancy’s website. Off the top of my head trails nearby include House Rock, Tucquan Glen, Kelly’s Run, Trout Run, Steinman’s Run, Pinnacle Point, Susquehannock State Park, or Ferncliff. Wind Cave runs along the Conestoga Trail, which is made up of many smaller interconnected trails. This trail is great for overnight camping, and is usually not crowded except when passing through Pinnacle and Tucquan Glen. I can provide any specific information that you need as well, I know the area very well!

  1. Pequea Creek Campground has one group site along the Conestoga Trail nearby to Wind Cave. Not the cheapest camping (especially compared to the bargain that is a Scout camp for the weekend), but they are a nice, family run place, the group site is away from (and above) the rest of the sites.

    I second the headlamp, and we usually have our guys wear skateboarding or biking helmets just to be safe. Of course, they never hit their heads, it’s always me that does.

  2. Sarah Hamblin

    Could I have your permission to use two of your pictures in our powerpoint presentation to illustrate our Pastor’s message this Sunday in worship? I’d like to use the entrance to the cave and the one with feet. He’s preaching on encouragement and how friends encouraged him to make it through the cave’s challenges. Thank you for considering this. I would note that they are your images.

  3. Pingback: Hiking at Tucquan Glen | Deb Schell Photography

  4. Zach D

    Hi man
    My friend wants to go here but we’re new to caving and we want a challenge. I’ve only gone caving in general twice with a guide. Are you interested in guiding us through the cave? Your post was helpful!

    1. Hey Zach,
      Normally I would be happy to take you through but I am actually not living in Lancaster at this time. You may have some luck finding a guide at Shenk’s Mare Outfitters. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the trip, and always enjoy with care!

      While you are in the area, there are plenty of other unique outdoors activities to be explored. If you are interested in hearing about a few, let me know and I can provide some links!

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