One of my favorite places to photograph in the area of southern Pennsylvania where I live is Pinnacle Overlook. The overlook is managed as part of Susquehannock State Park, although it is separated from the main body of the park by a few miles. Pinnacle Overlook provides an excellent view of the Susquehanna River from 380 feet above the river. In my opinion, it is one of the best places to photograph in Pennsylvania.
The Susquehanna River serves as the boundary between York and Lancaster counties. Susquehannock State Park, including Pinnacle Overlook, is on the east side of the river in Lancaster County. From the overlook you have a panoramic view to the west side of the river, as well as looking upriver to the northwest. This can be a good sunset location, although I recommend checking The Photographer’s Ephemeris to see the location of the sunset ahead of your visit.
→ Related reading: Tips for Better Sunset Photography
Getting to Pinnacle Overlook
Getting to Pinnacle Overlook is pretty easy (GPS coordinates: 39.84543, -76.34392). There are several signs pointing the direction as you get close. There is a small parking lot outside of the gate. You can also drive inside the gate and find additional parking. The park officially closes at sunset, so if I am going near sunset I park outside the gate to avoid the chance of being locked in for the night. From the gate there is a short walk of maybe a few hundred yards and you will be at the overlook. There is a decent-sized rock area with a guard rail, and next to it there is some open ground that also provides a pretty nice view. There is a wood fence at the edge to prevent people from falling, but you can easily photograph from behind the fence. If you are interested in seeing and exploring more, this area also connects with the Kelly Run Trail System.
Also in the Area
While you are in the area there are also a few other locations that you may want to visit and photograph. From the main area of Susquehannock State Park (just a few miles south of Pinnacle Overlook) you can also get a nice view of the river from Hawk Point, although in my opinion Pinnacle Overlook is much better.
The Holtwood Bridge crosses the Susquehanna River just south of Pinnacle Overlook and north of the main area of Susquehannock State Park. The bridge and the river can be photographed from the east side of the river.
There used to be a canal that ran along the side of the river, and lock 12 of the canal is still there and can be visited. From lock 12 there is a trail that leads a very short distance to the river, and this area at the edge of the river is a good place to photograph the bridge. The river is very low here, due to the dam just upriver, so you may find some interesting rocks in the river bed for the foreground of your photos. The approximate GPS coordinates are 39.81632, -76.33198.
Just a very short distance from lock 12 is the Mason-Dixon Trail and Mill Creek Falls. This is a small, but picturesque waterfall. I’ve written more details about Mill Creek Falls in a separate article, so I won’t go into detail here, but the GPS coordinates of the trailhead are 39.81919, -76.33614.
If you are in southern Pennsylvania or northern Maryland (these locations are only about an hour from Baltimore) I definitely recommended checking out Pinnacle Overlook and some of the other nearby points of interest.