Central PA Conservancy (CPC) and PA Game Commission (PGC) partnered to acquire this key property on the Kittatinny Ridge, north of Carlisle, adjoining State Game Lands 230 and connecting two, non-adjacent tracts. Old Cranes Gap Rd provides access to the property and offers sweeping views of the valley. The property conserves critical habitat, preserves local character and heritage, protects the steep slopes. The connection offered by this property enables more comprehensive management of the game lands and affords more public access in support of important outdoor recreational opportunities.
Containing almost 80 acres of southern-exposure woodland, the property is contiguous with a 4000+ acre forest block which buffers it from fragmentation. It contains prime habitat for game species including turkey, deer, grouse, and bear. This tract is within an Important Mammal Area for Allegheny woodrat and Indiana bat and includes a habitat that may be suitable for each. The site is vulnerable to mismanagement of steep slopes and the introduction of invasive species. The Windemaker Tract is classified an Important Bird Area as a major flyway for migrating raptors and nesting grounds for several other bird species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) that were detected on SGL 230 in the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds.
The Windemaker tract is bisected by old Cranes Gap Road, which was built in 1948 to improve a footpath that had passed over the ridge since colonial times. The road is elevated on a wall built from Tuscarora sandstone and reaches 30 feet at a switchback that affords outstanding views of the Cumberland Valley. The road was formally vacated in 1922; by that time, alternative routes to pass over other gaps had become more popular. Today, the one-mile segment offers an opportunity to hike the mountain. The preserve is open to the public and is accessible from the state game lands or the Tuscarora Trail, which traverses the Perry County side of the ridge.
Earl Windemaker of Carlisle purchased the property in 1986—it was the only sale of the property between 1908 and 2018. His nephews and heirs described him as a generous man who loved collecting, hunting, and the outdoors. To protect the property in his memory, they sold the land to CPC.
From Carlisle, take US-34 N for 4.6 miles then turn left onto PA-944 W/Enola Road. State Game Lands 230 will be on your right, providing access to the Windemaker Tract by foot.
Several parking areas are available in the southern end of SGL 230 off of Enola Road. From there, visitors can use the access trail to reach Crane’s Gap Trail and Tuscarora Trail.