The trail was a little rough from them but not terrible. I challenged it on on my old 1982 Mesa Runner, and I will definitely be using a lighter frame with shocks on the next ride. Trails. I agree some trimming is in order for the first mile or two on way back after crossing the bridge. About 50 feet before the road ende there is a dirt trial that bears off to the right, take this for a nice ride in the woods. If don’t wish to confront these challenges, I suggest you avoid both ends of the rail trail and use the occasionally narrow but relatively easy six point five mile mid-section of the rail trail. Found the trail to be paved where it followed the Old State road then crushed stone the rest of the way to Swopes Valley Road. Since there was a threating rain cloud overhead, I turned around before I got to the end of the trail. Rhododendrons become more thick but the trail is obvious. Very scenic. Just before the big Northern bend in the river the "Zombie Highway" as we call it, is blocked by a permanent barrier and a short connector appears to take you back to the crushed stone trail. From the parking lot, turn left to head 5 miles toward the southern trailhead in Lickdale, or turn right to head 5 miles toward the northern trailhead in Pine Grove. I wanted to make it to the Fossil pit but I was out of time, that pit is about 6 miles from the first bridge where I parked. This was fun because it had some abandoned road hills mixed styles of surfaces. I enjoyed my ride but was disappointed with the surface of the trail. This trail is beautiful. This portion is rather flat, but there are some up and down hills. The state of PA put down large limestone on the trail. Access to the Swatara Creek Water Trail is provided at two formal trailheads, Scotto's Italian Restaurant, Jonestown, Lebanon County, and Boat House Road Park, Derry Township, Dauphin County, and at other public and private access points identified on the trail guide/map. The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities, and customizable maps.. You have to just guess and hope you are going the right direction, this was not a stretch in the official description at all. Future plans call for the, In another 1.2 miles, the trail begins a narrow passage through the water gap through Blue Mountain created by Swatara Creek. The trail grade is relatively flat, with variable surfaces: dirt, gravel, and pavement, requiring wide tires. The child may get kicked. And, though I would agree that the first two miles of the Swatara are a bit bumpy, if you have a hybrid (which I do) or a mountain bike (which my riding companion had) you'll do fine. Combining the 2 trails as we did made for about a 30 mile ride and a perfect Christmas afternoon. The trail grade is relatively flat, with variable surfaces (stone, gravel, and pavement) requiring wide tires. After mile two, however, the riding is fantastic. And I did not encounter any horses anywhere (on a Monday afternoon). The next two miles of the path were a mixture of pavement and ground cinder. The old state road starts at the Appalachin Trail Bridge and runs along the east side of the creek while the rail trail runs along the west side of the creek. Problem is we missed were to get back on the trail because the sign is broken off and we continued on the road for almost a mile. There is a 1.6-mile stretch of old, no longer maintained paved roadway - bumpy but passable. Many hoof divots on that section makes for a bumpy ride.All in all, nice ride except for the aforementioned. You do have to switch from the trail to an old paved road at a spot called Murry Station. The historic Waterville Bridge spans Swatara Creek and is the crossing point for the Appalachian Trail. We can back vis the Bear Hole Trail. There are a few spots on the Bear Hole trail that have small gullies from rain runoff, but they are passable as of 8/11/13. But this is the only part of the trail that is gravel. So here, I got on the trail. The trail again transitions to fine grit for a few miles, but finally transitions to soil with grass/weeds. The new bridge about one third of the way upstream from the the Appalachian Trail bridge offers another option of a shorter loop. However, it is possible to find your way. Jan. 27, 2012
Personally I like the fossil pit area to do a little playing around in. This would be my favorite place to ride if it weren't for the horses. The southern end had a lot of ballast and was probably a little rough for our bikes. Scroll down to learn more information about the Swatara Creek Run. Kittatinny Ridge, also known as Blue Mountain, has been designated by Audubon Pennsylvania, as the largest of the state’s Important Bird Areas. We had two issues right from the beginning. Future plans call for the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail to meet up with the Swatara Rail-Trail in Lickdale. The trail is really, really not marked at all. The trail from Lickdale to the Appalacian bridge is quite rough, I don't think it would be much fun on a road bike, but my hybrid goes fine. The Swatara Gap to Delaware Water Gap Topographic Map Guide makes a perfect traveling companion when traversing the northeastern Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Even though you are out in the woods you are blocked in on one side by highway and the other by the water. In another 1.2 miles, the trail begins a narrow passage through the water gap through Blue Mountain created by Swatara Creek. The rail trail from Suedberg to Pine Grove Interchange is not improved. As an update to an earlier review, there is a port-a-john available at the Trout Run trail head, which seems to be the most spacious & least used parking area. Again, very lonely, but a little more lit than the bike path on the other side of the river. We have done this trail several times in the past year, and it just keeps getting better! The first two miles of the rail trail on the Pine Grove end is virtually unusable and a missing bridge there requires the fording of Mill Creek. Between those points, the Park provides a total of eighteen miles of three distinctly different types of riding surfaces. Along with numerous ATV/ORV on the trail. For the first two miles the trail is very rough, then you bike on an abandon road for a ways then jump back on the trail. The section that says no horses is good but the other sections with horses the trail is smooth along the edges as the horses stay in the middle. The five miles of the potholed, one lane asphalt, and sometimes dirt Old State Road rises and falls with the hillside terrain as it follows Swatara Creek through the forest. Recognized both state and nationally, the Swatara Water Trail is 60 miles in length, created by Swatara Watershed Association in cooperation with PA DCNR, PA Fish & Boat Commission, and the National Park Service with public launches established about every 7 miles. They also have cabins and camper sites, but only three tent sites. However I found a great map to print on the Swatara State Park web site with detail on all the roads and trails. I witnessed a biker almost being kicked by a horse. Access to the Swatara Creek Water Trail is provided at public and private access points identified on the map. Rhododendrons grow along the trail. The bridge carries the Appalachian Trail across the creek and connects with the Bear Hole Trail that runs 5 miles through the state park on the other side of the creek. The Swatara Gap to Delaware Water Gap Topographic Map Guide makes a perfect traveling companion when traversing the northeastern Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). A more reasonable way to enter the Pine Grove end of the rail trail is located just across from the Swedburg Church of God, 2.2 miles from the Pine Grove exit (Exit 100) of I-81 or, if traveling in the opposite direction, 9.5 miles from Lickdale. The first mile or so was a paved trail with several branch-offs of different trails (not sure if these were state park trails or what). Click to maximize. You can cross at the bridge at the north end at Swopes Valley Rd. You need to pay attention to avoid problems. Although I took a brief side trip across the Bear Hole trail bridge, I didn't do any of that trail. Swatara Falls is a beautiful, rugged place with soaring cliffs and boulders. To reach the Monroe Valley Road trailhead from I-81, follow the directions above, but instead of continuing on Lickdale Road, turn left onto SR 72 N. Go 0.9 mile, and turn right onto Monroe Valley Road. Swatara park is building new trails and doing a lot of very nice things but they should address this trail before building anymore. Still numerous sections of partial wash-out on other parts of trail. I LOVED the trails at Swatara! Rode to the Sand Siding trail bridge which crossed back over to Bear Hole trail. Overnight parking for AT hikers is on SR 443 just west of SR 72. There are several trail junctions, including one with the Appalachian Trail, along the way. I was looking for a bit longer ride so next time I'll take a few of the many side trails for another adventure. Get a FREE Rail Trails Guidebook when you become a Member with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The state acquired the land and built the trail. A trip north on I-81 gave me another chance to explore the Swatara Rail Trail. I would not recommend biking in the opposite direction, however, because the hills are even steeper and more numerous. Swopes Valley Trail Head, is further north in the park with improved parking and creek access. No fine or crushed stone has been laid down to smooth or even-out the trail.The County Iron Bridge located 2.0 miles from the start, where the trail previously crossed the creek to Old State Road, is now closed but the trail now continues, paralleling route 72 for another 1/2 mile, and brings you to the relocated and restored Waterville Bridge. Sept 19th, 2011. For the first 2.5 miles it was a old road. You can make use of two bridges that connect to the Bear Hole Trail to make a loop ride. (This would also make for a good alternative starting point if the parking lot at the southern trail head is full.) 4) Be aware that the Bear Hole Trail is not a rail trail. Otherwise, it’s a great route back. Start/Finish will be at the Swopes Valley Trailhead on the east side of the park. Forests, rivers and streams define this scenic trail. The trailhead was also just where it was supposed to be. I started at the Trout Run trailhead and rode one of the connector trails to the mountain bike complex. Swatara State Park is a singletrack mountain bike trail in Lickdale, Pennsylvania. In the reviews of the trail on this web site some people say it is a great trail and others say it is awful. The trail in this section of Pennsylvania primarily travels across flat, rocky ridges mixed with strenuous climbs in and out of … The old state road is badly eroded asphalt with many big pot holes. Rideable but rough. Four new trailheads, or parking areas, also are planned, affording easy access to the trails and launch areas for canoeing and kayaking. In 1862 a flood wiped out the feeder canal, which was never rebuilt. There is a marshy area near Wagner's pond with a sign stating "wet trail". I am guessing there must be a horse stable nearby that there are so many rude horse owners here as this isn't a problem on any other trail I have ridden. Get the map from Swatara State Park and plan several great trips. “We know more than 84,000 visitors came last year to float and fish its waters and hike and bike its scenic woodlands.”
This Trail is open to vehicles the 2nd Friday and Saturday of each month. I do not recommend riding the Swatara Rail Trail east past the Swopes Valley Trailhead. The trail is fool of holes thanks to the horses. Check or FAQs for more common login questions. The day was heavily overcast (but, no rain while on the trail) with a temp. According to reps from PA's DCNR, this trail may eventually connect to the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, and thus afford riders a trail all the way from Elizabethtown to Pine Grove. I wanted to eliminate the 2 miles of loose hard riding. This is mainly wooded area running along Swatara Creek. This gravel should be removed and replaced with fine grit. Made a pit stop at the memorial marker about a mile from the trail head (picture). The trail toward Pine Grove is better maintained. Since we were just looking for a leisurely, flat trail, we turned around at that point. Since the State Park System is short of money it may be some time before the trail is repaired. It's not good for pulling a trailer that kids sit in, though.Warnings: The trail is located on state game land so it may not be a good place to bike during deer season, Wear long pants and a helmet. A couple of new bridges to cross the streams. Heading north toward Swatara State Park, you’ll pass a small trail parking lot and reach another trailhead on Monroe Valley Road in 0.8 mile. 3 overlapping segments. You can see the trail to one side of this entrance road. Moose River Connector Starting off of the Soo Line north of Swatara, this 7 mile stretch of trail will bring you to the Moose River Trails in Cass County and the 35 miles of forest trails they have to offer. Youker. The input shaped the park’s future and best utilizes its recreational potential. The north spur is mostly grass and dirt and I can see how it could become muddy if it had rained. This new section will need to be explored. Next the trail transitions to pavement, which essentially compromises the aesthetic of a rail to trail and should be replaced with fine grit. On my last trip encountered a number of face-slappers every mile. On average it takes 26 minutes to complete this trail. Sad. The central section is on an abandoned paved road and you can cruise a little faster. The last mile of the trail in this direction is mowed grass, almost like passing through someone's back yard. My first trail since coming back to PA late this summer. It will get better. In between the slightly rocky start and the rugged end are 6 miles of beauty, old bridges, kayakers, wildlife (I flushed two pheasants, which I haven't had the pleasure of doing since I was a kid) and pleasant scenery. Visually this trail is a treat, from a scrap yard, to bird preserve to an few small examples of old growth forest. 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