Cove Mountain Preserve & Pizza Boy Brewing

Enola, PA

While in Harrisburg for a quick weekend, we managed to squeeze in another short hike! We stopped at Cove Mountain Preserve which is on the other side of the Susquehanna river from the capitol. This nature preserve sits at the end of a suburban neighborhood and seemed very popular with families, as it should! We did a short 1.5 mile loop to the State of Liberty lookout. We ended up nearly running the last bit cause we heard some rumbles in the distance. I am not a fan of being in the woods during a thunderstorm! Thankfully we made it back to the car and took refuge at Pizza Boy Brewing which is a place I’ve been wanting to check out for years. True to their name, the pizza was awesome and the beer was delicious. Be prepared to make some hard decisions though, they had nearly 100 beers on tap!

THE HIKE: Cove Mountain Preserve – Statue of Liberty Viewpoint

Length: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 250ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time:  45 minutes
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large gravel lot at trailhead
H&H: 4/5

Cove Mountain Preserve is owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by volunteers from the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club. The Nature Conservancy purchased the land in 2017, making it the first nature preserve owned by TNC in Central PA. This important purchase actually creates a 14-mile stretch of protected land along the Kittatinny Ridge in Central Pennsylvania. This ridge forms a 185-mile stretch of rugged mountain from the Mason-Dixon Line to the Delaware River Gap. According to The Nature Conservancy, this ridge is critical to the biodiversity of Pennsylvania because it provides a forested “superhighway” for animals to escape from the effects of changing climates. 

Cove Mountain Preserve itself is a very well-maintained area with about 3 miles of trails. There are several small, interlinked trails that are color coded. We took the Green and Yellow trails to make a loop out to the Statue of Liberty viewpoint. This was about 1.5 miles of moderate hiking that wound through pawpaw (!) groves and has some small rock scrambles. There was a really cool spot where the trail squeezed through a break in the glacial rocks. It was fittingly called the Boulder Squeeze! A HUGE shout out to the folks with the SATC for making these trails, the green trail was absolutely beautiful, especially all of the rock work! Having done some trail building myself, I know moving rocks like that is no small feat! 

Okay, so you might be wondering if I’ve lost my mind talking about the Statue of Liberty. No, you can’t see all the way to the Big Apple from this trail. But there is a miniature replica of Lady Liberty on a rock in the Susquehanna. I had never heard about this until this trip and I needed to know more about it! And what a story it is. SO in 1986, a local man wanted to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Statue of Liberty by making a “prank” replica of it. He built it out of plywood and venetian blinds and, along with some co-conspirators, installed it on an old bridge piling in the middle of the night. It caused quite a stir and even a few traffic jams on the neighboring highway! Surprisingly, despite its flimsy construction materials, the statue remained in place until 1992 when it was blown off the pedestal and destroyed. However, people had become quite attached to her over the few years that a collection for a replacement was set up. Over $25,000 was raised and a replica was made of steel and fiberglass. Nearly 11 years after the first statue was built, a helicopter placed Lady Liberty back on her pedestal. It wasn’t until 2011 that a local lawyer Gene Stilp finally came forward as the mastermind behind the original statue. Wow what a story! 

We were very impressed with this little nature reserve and I would definitely recommend a visit! And if you go soon, check out those pawpaw groves, you might be able to catch a fresh fruit. 

THE BEER: Pizza Boy Brewing/ Al’s of Hampden

Address: 2240 Millennium Way, Enola, PA 17025
Distance from Trail Head: 6.8 mi, 12 mins
Food?: Full Menu – PIZZA
Details: Outdoor seating but no pets
H&H Rating: 5/5

Pizza Boy Brewing has been on my radar for a while as I’ve seen a few more of their beers popping up on draft around the Burgh. But I especially remember them from some of their delicious collabs with local fav East End! I’d really liked everything I’ve had from Pizza Boy so I was especially excited to be able to go to their brewpub. 

Upon visiting Pizza Boy, I was surprised to learn that the Pizza actually came first! Al’s of Hampden is a pizza restaurant that has been run by Albert Kominski since 2002. It wasn’t until 2011, that the brewery got started. The name makes a lot more sense now! The brewery quickly became popular, soon outgrowing their old location. The team was able to upgrade to a large facility in Enola PA where they have a full menu as well as take out, and over 100 beers on tap! They have a huge variety of Pizza Boy beers, as well as other local favorites and standard domestic pours. There really is something for everyone at Pizza Boy! 

Pizza and beer has got to be one of my favorite combos and it just hits different after hiking! I can only speak to how delicious their pizza was, but they also have a full pub menu, including subs, soups, and salads. The pizza definitely reels you in, but you’ll end up staying awhile for the taplist. And mostly because that’s how long it will take you to read it! Seriously, this place has so many beers that it was nearly impossible to choose. We actually went back the next day for another round of tasting! My favorite of the weekend was the Permission Slip, which was so crisp and refreshing with a nice hop profile. And I would be remiss if I didn’t call out the delightful Paw Paw Pale Ale. Pizza and pawpaw beer, I think I was in heaven! 

Our Beer:

  • West Shore IPA – IPA – 6.5%
  • Citrus Flip – IPA – 6%
  • Sunny Side Up (Bourbon Barrel Aged) – Coffee Stout – 9.5%
  • Starlit Morning – Pale Ale – 5.5%
  • Permission Slip – India Pale Lager – 5.7%
  • Puncheon Rogerd – Wild Ale – 6.3%
  • Hop Vision Cashmere – IPA – 6%
  • Engineer of Dreams – NEIPA – 6.2%
  • Keystone – IPA – 6.6%
  • Paw Paw Pale Ale – 5.5%

SUM UP: Cove Nature Preserve is a small hiking area just north of Harrisburg in central PA. It offers several miles of trails with clearly marked trail blazes. The trails are fairly flat with some moderately rocky terrain. This is a great spot for beginner hikers or families especially since the trails are well-maintained and have low foot traffic. After your stroll, head over to Pizza Boy Brewing for the classic pizza and beer combo. Get ready to make some tough decisions though. Between the lengthy tap list and robust menu, you’ll have a tough time choosing!

September Nature Nugget – PAWPAW

“Pickin’ up paw paws, put ’em in your pocket

Way down yonder in the paw paw patch”

Appalachian Folk Song
Pawpaw leaves. J’s hand for scale

It’s September in Maryland and do you know what that means? PAWPAW SEASON! Okay let’s take a step back because chances are, you might not know what pawpaws are! Pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba) are native to the eastern US into Canada and produce a fruit in the late summer/ early fall. It’s actually the largest fruit indigenous to the United States! Cool right? So bright green pawpaw fruit start forming in the summer but come Fall they will ripen and turn soft and might even look slightly yellow-brown. They’re best eaten when they’re either fallen from the tree or easily come off the stem.

Pawpaw trees have really large, long leaves on spindly trunks. They prefer growing in bottom land that is very fertile and well-draining. I always keep my eyes out for them along stream and river beds. They’re considered an undergrowth tree, which means that they grow in the shade of larger trees. They can grow up to 30ft tall and are usually found in hardwood forests. 

Pawpaw flower

In the springtime, the pawpaw produces flowers with six petals arranged in sets of three. They are a beautiful deep maroon color but they don’t smell too nice! Around the same time that the flowers emerge, the tree begins putting out its signature huge oblong leaves. They are bright green most of the season and then turn to yellow and brown after it drops its fruit. 

But what you probably want to know more about is the fruit! Pawpaw fruit is soft and creamy, often compared to custard. In fact, it’s very similar to bananas which over the years has given it a variety of colloquial names including: wild banana and Appalachian banana. The fruit contains several large brown seeds in a row and these seeds along with the peel are not edible.

Freshly cut pawpaw with visible seeds


Although you won’t find a pawpaw in the grocery store, they do have a long history in this area. Pawpaws were so important to the indigenous Shawnee people, who inhabited the Ohio Valley, that they named a month for them! In the Shawnee language September is literally called the Pawpaw Moon. The first written record of pawpaws dates back to 1541 when a Spanish explorer wrote of seeing Indigenous peoples harvesting them. Pawpaws were even enjoyed by founding fathers, with Thomas Jefferson planting groves at Monticello and one of George Washington’s favorite desserts was chilled pawpaw. Lewis and Clark even snacked on them during their expedition west!

Use and Popularity 

Gazing longing at a pawpaw that’s not ripe yet

Pawpaws have grown in popularity with the increased interest in local foraging. Pawpaw fruits are notoriously difficult to transport as their flesh bruises easily and they quickly rot once they have been picked. However, more and more people are realizing how easy it is to find pawpaws around their own neighborhoods! On one of our hikes at the American Chestnut Land Trust, J and I found a huge pawpaw grove. Sadly, they weren’t ready to be picked yet. Another weekend, we were walking along the C&O Canal and found a whole group of people harvesting pawpaws. They were kind enough to share their loot with us so we had a tasty snack for our walk. Then finally, I found some pawpaws within walking distance from my home. I actually was out running and completely abandoned that when I found a tree with perfectly ripe pawpaws. I harvested a few, leaving some for others, and brought them home to gather the puree. 

My pawpaw loot

This was my very first attempt at making something with pawpaws. I usually just eat them raw (which is delicious) but I had been hearing a lot about how tasty they are in ice cream or baked goods. I got about 2 cups of pulp from my pawpaws so I decided to make bread. I took my favorite banana bread recipe and just subbed the pawpaws in for the fruit. I thought it was delicious and interestingly the bread turned pink! Apparently pawpaw fruit reacts with baking soda to turn it a light pink color. My whole family really liked the bread and we thought it tasted slightly berry-like. It was perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee. I’m calling this bake a success! I think next time I would maybe add cinnamon or ginger. Have you ever tried a pawpaw? What did you think?

Hannah’s Pawpaw Bread

1 ¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup unsalted butter, softened 
2 cups pawpaw puree 
½ c plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom of a 9 in loaf pan. Cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add pawpaw puree and yogurt. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Don’t over mix! Pour into pans and bake for about an hour and 15 mins. This makes one very large loaf or two smaller loaves. If making muffins, bake for about 25-30 mins. Enjoy!


American Chestnut Land Trust & Mully’s Brewery

Prince Frederick, MD

If you’re like us, you might not have ventured down into Southern Maryland very much. But this Hike & Hop is gonna change that! American Chestnut Land Trust is a huge nature reserve with so many unique trails to explore. Nearby is Mully’s Brewery, Southern Maryland’s first production brewery so they really know their stuff! Grab your hiking boots and let’s go!

Our path is marked in pink

THE HIKE: American Chestnut Land Trust – South Trailhead

Length: Variable
Elevation Gain: max 500ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: Variable
Trail use: Hiking and leashed pets only
Parking: Large parking lot – please sign in when you arrive
H&H: 4/5

American Chestnut Land Trust is a nature reserve run by a not-for-profit of the same name and cares for over 3,500 acres. It’s split into two main sections. The north side trailhead can be accessed at 676 Double Oak Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678 and the South Side is located at 2650 Scientists Cliffs Rd, Port Republic, MD 20676. J and I had visited the south section before and had meant to go to the North side this time but Google Maps had other ideas! We somehow ended up at the South Side trailhead anyway and decided to roll with it. There were two delightful volunteers at the trailhead who gave us advice about which trails to take and how to support the ACLT. Although there’s no fee for the trails, make sure to scan the QR code at the entrance! Visitation numbers help the ACLT get grants to continue to maintain this awesome park. 

We chose to do a loop of the southern section which you can see on the map above! I’m not quite sure how long it was (forgot to put on my tracker that day!) but if you’re more of an AllTrails person, you can do this hike: I dunno if you guys know it but Maryland summers are HOT. The heat and humidity was oppressive during our hike but thankfully the greenery shielded us from the sun. As with most hikes, make sure to load up on the bug spray and be prepared to fend off gnats and midges.

Pawpaw Fruit!

I really liked this hike because it was so peaceful. We never saw a single other person on the trail. We really turned this into a nature by testing our tree knowledge and searching for mushrooms. Sometimes I really like a hard hike and testing my limits and other days I love just wandering in the woods! J is so fascinated by nature and it never ceases to warm my heart how excited he gets over a huge tree or a tiny mushroom. The East Loop was definitely my favorite part of this hike because it followed a meandering little creek that had cut deeply into the ground, leaving really interesting patterns in the mud. BUT my absolute favorite part was [drumroll please] the Pawpaw trees!! There was an entire grove of pawpaw trees with so much fruit! It was too early to pick them yet so we just took lots of pictures but it made me so excited to see this many! I’ve been fascinated by pawpaws ever since I first heard about them and I finally got to try one a few years ago. I’ve been hoping to get my hands on some again! I think I might be coming back here later in September!

My only complaint about this hike was that a small section was confusing at the end of the East Loop because you had to cross over a road and the trail was nearly invisible. Thankfully once we crossed the road, it was clear where we needed to go! 

The American Chestnut Tree

THE BEER: Mully’s Brewery

Address: 141 Schooner Ln, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
Distance from Trail Head: 9.7 miles, 15 mins
Food?: Food Trucks, check online for schedule
H&H Rating: 4/5

I love exploring new areas in Maryland but sometimes finding a good Hikes & Hops combo can be hard when there’s not too many breweries outside of the main metro areas. Thank goodness for Mully’s Brewery! Mully’s is a small brewery in Prince Frederick and according to the Brewer’s Association of Maryland it was the first production brewery in South Maryland. It’s got a pretty small indoor space so both times that we’ve been we’ve found spots outside. Mully’s is a really popular local spot so you might have trouble finding space. Thankfully, people are always friendly and have been more than happy to share a table. 

Mully’s has a really unique line up of beer. Both times we’ve been, there’s been something really interesting or different on tap, as well as some old standbys. Our favorites this time were the  Blackout IPA and Mully’s headliner IPA. Yup we’re shameless IPA people. Also if you’re a fan of sours, they had a ton on tap!

Papa Juice & Blackout

Mully’s is a bit of a drive down into Southern Maryland but if you’re looking for good beer and a fun atmosphere, you can’t miss it! They often have food trucks and music on the weekends. My only complaint is that their tent and tables are set up in a parking lot so people are often driving rather too close for comfort

Our Beer:

  • Carmelite Wheat – Hefeweizen – 5.4%
  • Mully’s IPA – American IPA – 6.3%
  • Blackout – Black IPA – 7.3%
  • Papa Juice – Blonde Ale – 4.9%

SUM UP: American Chestnut Land Trust is a park that spans nearly 3,500 acres along the Chesapeake Bay near Prince Frederick. There is a North and South section both with many miles of trail. They are open for hiking and leashed pets and there’s no entry fee but they do ask for you to sign in so visitation can be tracked. Combine several different trails together to get a nice long hike. Afterward, go to Mully’s Brewery which is only about 10 miles away in an industrial park. They make unique beers but claim your spot early; the weekends get busy! Check their website for music and food truck schedules.