A Dangerous Trail (To you, Dauphin County)
My brother and I just completed the entire Stony Creek Rail Trail yesterday from end to end and back again (approximately 39.7 miles). We began from the Dauphin County end and traveled East towards the Lebanon City Reservoir. This first six miles of trail is atrocious. After crossing the Lebanon County Marker at about 8.5 miles the trail becomes more respectable and nice to ride with occasional ruts, rocks and brief periods of roughness.
However, the Dauphin end has been VANDALIZED by the county game commission. They have dumped long sections of ballast rock and substrate material incompatible for bicycles. Not only is this nearly impossible to ride through, but these giant 4-5" diameter rocks can throw you off your bike. We had to get off and walk long sections. A grader went through which basically tipped out and upturned hundreds of rocks leaving behind holes ranging from a couple of inches to many that were 10" + deep. I seen holes that could severely hurt riders and especially considering kids are riding this mine field. Really, how many neurons does it require to figure out that the surface needs to be rolled flat after digging out the rocks?
Dauphin County, you should be ashamed of your incompetency to properly maintain your portion of the rail trail. But after all, I believe this destruction was purposefully done to discourage riders. We know that the Dauphin County game commission loves to harass bikers and simply don't want us there. I suppose this is their way of letting us know we are not welcome. I happen to have a very nice bike with front suspension that generally cruises over rough terrain, but this was crazy. The transition of trail when crossing the Dauphin/Lebanon county line is reminiscent of how road surfaces abruptly change when crossing back into Pennsylvania from out of state.
Also, the entrance road to the Dauphin County parking area was ridiculous! There were many holes and whoop-d-doos that were nearly large enough to swallow a car. The Lebanon side had nice parking lots and access points.
My advice is to avoid the Dauphin side of the trail. We know the city of Harrisburg along with Dauphin County is bankrupt and has placed Stony Creek Rail Trail off their list of concerns for public recreation. As a final plea Dauphin County, if you don't know how to maintain the trail please just leave it alone. I would much rather ride through washed out sections of trail than the intentional damage caused by your obvious incompetence. Finally, to the individual(s) directly responsible for the upkeep of the Dauphin County trail, YOU SUCK!
Stony Valley Rail Trail
Loved it. We did a counter-clockwise loop which started on Gold Mine Road, passed through the once-upon-a-time village of Rausch Gap, and finished by coming back on the rail trail. Beautiful surroundings.
Though there was a little more excitement then we needed
when we decided to go see the nearby Boxcar Rocks. Watch out for the PA Game Commission Conservation Officers. On 21 September 2013, I was walking back
with two other hikers from the Boxcar Rocks and we were detained for questioning by a PA DCNR Conservation Officer. The officer blocked the road with his PA state owned vehicle, stepped out of his vehicle blocking our route around the vehicle. When I started to go around him he gave me the impression it would be in my best interest not to. He then preceded to question us on what cars we were driving, whether we were doing anything we should not be doing, whether we had seen anybody else, and what the other people were doing in the area. When he was satisfied, the DCNR officer got back in his vehicle and drove off in search of other people to detain for questioning. I am 58 years old and this is the first time I have been illegally detained for questioning by anyone. I will not be going back to Pennsylvania for any hiking for a long time. Which seeing as I am 58 years old will not be much of a loss for the state of Pennsylvania.
Beware, you have been warned!
Deep woods tranquility -- but consider a mountain bike!
This is a beautiful wooded rail bed cutting through Appalachian back country. A great opportunity to observe wildlife. However, be prepared -- we learned this is not your 'normal' Rails-To-Trails experience, in that there is very little signage at the trail head, no mile markers, and infrequent trail maintenance.
Traveling west from the trail head, the first mile and a half features packed gravel, good drainage, and width to accommodate three cyclists comfortably. However, this deteriorates to a narrower track, heavier and sometimes loose gravel with stony patches and plenty of branches down on the trail to dodge.
The trail is on Pennsylvania game lands, with hunters in evidence, please be sure to wear bright clothing.
We observed three large long-eared owls (not great horned), deer, and plenty of small game.
We traveled roughly 10 miles in and returned, and met no other cyclists or hikers on a mild summer weekday -- only a lone hunter with bird dogs at the trail head.
Very wooded trail, bumpy at times
The eastern trailhead is easy to find from the south, but is 3, not 4 miles in on Goldmine Rd according to my odometer. Lots of parking is available on the left side if you drive in past the State Gamelands sign. We rode east to the reservoir and back to the trailhead first, which was beautifully wooded, had a stream visible from the trail at times, and a relatively smooth surface. Riding west from the trailhead had more variation in the surface. It started out bumpy with larger gravel around areas where drainage pipes had been installed and then altenated from nice fine grit with a smooth ride to areas with larger stone which were rather bumpy. We got to see some deer, and enjoyed walking through the woods, finding some neat fungi. Will probably do the short stretch to the reservoir again, but don't know if we'll be back for longer rides westward because of the rough surfaces, plus we have many more R2T to check out!
Gamelands Tour will affect trail Oct. 19, 2008.
Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Land 211, which encompasses more than 44,000 acres in a three-county area. The tour will start at the Ellendale gate in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County, just northeast of Dauphin Borough. The 19-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will end at Goldmine Road, southwest of Tower City, Schuylkill County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat improvement projects.