Stony Valley Railroad Grade Reviews    

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By jtkilcoin in September, 2016

Rode an out & back yesterday (9/21/16) 30 miles (15/15). The trail is in good shape with few potholes and rough spots. Be watchful for fallen branches on the trail. The trail is tree-covered with Hemlock and hardwoods with fern and occasional rhododendron undergrowth. The trail is in PA State Game Lands so quite isolated. It provided wonderful solitude with few distractions--a delightful ride. If in the area, definitely do it. However, dont drive a long distance just to ride it. Driving directions are valid.

Wilderness ride

By dlwertz57 in August, 2016

Rode Dauphin County end of this trail in the evening. I was alone and enjoyed the solitude. Timing the ride to end at dusk. Fortunately, I didn't get a flat or anything to delay my return to the parking area. I didn't pass a soul on the 20 miles I rode and I was thinking that getting stuck out there after dark might be a bit dangerous.
I would recommend riding the trail in the morning. Be prepared for the elements as you would on any wilderness adventure.
Overall, the trail was 90% canopied on the west end making it a shady ride.

Mountain Lion Sighting

By sveach in June, 2016

We were hiking from the Harrisburg, Dauphin County end this morning and were on our way back after about 5 miles when I spotted the head and shoulders of a large cat-like animal poking out of the brush on the south side of the trail, attempting to cross the trail. It turned it's face towards me and it was identifiable as a mountain lion. It retreated but my husband and I caught up and got a long look at the animal standing and staring back at us about 25 feet back on the forest floor. We realized there might be a danger, so we continued on with our hike. Two men bicycling came from behind on the trail and we began to tell the story of the mountain lion. My husband turned to point to the location behind us when the lion once again poked his head out, and then very slowly walked across the trail, then turned northeast and walked away from us to find a good spot to jump up the rocks to the other side of the trail. Our jaws collectively dropped. There was no doubt from the large size, color, long tail, facial features that this was a mountain lion. We didn't have our phones because cell reception is limited. When we got back to the trail head we looked it up and the message was mixed. The internet said there were no more Eastern Mountain Lions. U Tube showed videos of sightings as close as Bucks County. Later we talked to our daughter who works at RoundTop Mountain Resort in York County. They have seen mountain lions there. So please share if you have seen this lion before on your hike/rides.

Not Worth the Trip

By ffx620 in April, 2016

My wife and I drove up from VA to ride this trail. The surface is little better than a gravel road and the scenery is a bit boring. Very disappointing.

Overcast Saturday

By cindy.gerner.5 in March, 2016

We started out at the Gold Mine Road parking lot. We rode to Ellendale. I would recommend this trail to at least an intermediate rider or better. Also if I do this trail again I would ride from the Ellendale parking area. On our way back to our vehicle we realized even though it's an old railroad grade going back was uphill for at least the next 12 miles. Because it's a wilderness area the condition of the road varies. I have a hybrid and managed but would have preferred a mountain bike. In the 34+ miles we traveled we only passed 5 people. Overall it's a great outdoor experience and I do want to go back. The only sound other than mortar fire from the Gap was the babbling brook.

Hiked This Trail Many Times

By thirdpaclugh in January, 2016

Hiking Stoney Creek R.R. bed, Stony Mountain, from Ellendale to the Gold Mine Cable has given me many unforgettable memories. Would park at Ellendale Cable, hike to the Tank Path, up to the top of Stony Mt. and out the old Stage Coach Road down into Stony Creek and on out to Camp Shan, Cold Spring, Gold Mine Trail. One thing in this photo array is the one titled, "Old Trail Markers?"..Thowe twin cement structures are actually old supports for the rails used for repairs when there wa actually a train running through the valley.

It's all in your Expectations

By polotrail in August, 2015

We rode this trail this past Saturday; it's been very dry so the ground was firm (dirt and crushed gravel). We traveled from the southwest entry point about 5 miles up and back. The grade is gentle and the trail is straight. It's the width of a car with almost no obstacles so you can ride side-by-side if you wish. It's fully shaded so it's a good choice for summer. If you prefer the paved trails then this one is not for you; not for road bikes. It's a good trail for kids too since there are some side trails that lead to the creek that you can walk down and explore (helps break things up for the younger ones).
Have Fun!

Poorly marked

By sminnick in July, 2015

Had trouble locating supposed parking lot. Ended up driving up the mountain and encountered a logging truck coming down. When I found a place to turn around, encountered another one coming up and was forced to back up the mile that I had come down until I reached a spot I could pull off.

fun but challenging trail

By lsimpson22 in July, 2015

This trail was fun but definitely challenging. The rocks and soggy terrain made it difficult but we love a good challenge!!

Wonderful and Rugged

By yewshadow in May, 2015

I see a lot of hate in some of these reviews, but as of May, 2015 I did not find any potholes or problems on the west end of the trail. We rode about 10 miles in and back out again. Very beautiful vistas, and the Stoney Creek itself is lovely. The terrain is a bit more challenging than some more popular trails in the area, and I would not reccomend it for road bikes. Perfect for hybrids and MTB, however.

Does anyone run on this trail??

By aschaffhauser in April, 2015

I'm looking for a nearby place to run without traffic and far enough to get in my long runs

Could be one of the best

By mazdaa in October, 2014

I have ridden this trail for many years--had a few accidents on it--mostly my fault. But the last time I rode this crappy trail, I had my worst fall 3 mi. from the west parking lot. Big hole in knee, bleeding profusely--with no broken bones I was able to pedal back to car. Spotty cell connection in this rural area. Spent about a week in hosp. with infectious hematoma. Bottom line: my fault because I was riding with too much air pressure in tires and shouldn't have ridden this crappy trailin its condition--hit a slippery rock and went down, even though I wasn't traveling more than about 9 miles an hour due to the jackhammer terrain. On the day of my accident (8/14/2014) there was work being done on the trail, but I'm not optimistic about improvement. The first 11.5 miles of this trail from the west parking lot traveling east are horrible; the last 7.5 (approx.) in Lebanon County are fine. Maybe someone will provide an update if things improve. Beautiful scenery, but don't use a bike with narrow tires, and keep your tire pressure lower (35-45 pounds). See tire rating on the sidewall of your tire.

The two-mile dirt road from the west parking lot to the paved road are filled with deep pot holes, and can damage your vehicle if you go faster than 4 miles an hour. With enough improvement, this could be one of the best trails in PA. Just beware of the negatives.

Two Bears - No park rangers

By bigfishfry in October, 2014

Rode this trail Oct 5th after some heavy rains during the night.

I drove to the parking area on Gold Mine road at about 10AM. I was surprised to see the sign about the unexploded ordnance. But then I remembered someone mentioning this in another review. It was cool ~54 degrees, so I dressed appropriately - with tights and a jacket. I saw two bow hunters about ½ mile up the trail – I also noticed a biker was riding ahead of me. I hoped to catch up to him/her. I saw the bike parked at the Appalachian trail, parked without a rider about 3.5 miles from the parking lot. The rest of the way and back – I saw no one except a hiker about ½ mile from the parking lot at the east end of the trail. It was pretty bumpy and my arms were getting sore from the heavy vibration. So I let out some air out of my tires after about 10 miles. That helped the vibration significantly.

The sun was starting to come out and it was a very nice ride. After 19.7 miles I was at the end of the trail on the east side at a paved cul-de-sac. I looked around for some more trail, but couldn’t find any. So, I immediately turned around and headed back. The first two miles on that side are along an access road. You need not ride this, since the trail head is beyond the cul-de-sac up the dirt road for two miles. The road is privately maintained and has some houses. A construction company was adding new drainage pipes.

Along the way back I thought I saw two black bears. The first was about 2 miles from the west end parking lot, and the other was about 6. I tried to video the second, but it vanished. Riding back was interesting. I rode and rode and rode- and saw no one. It was almost spooky because it was Saturday, and I’m used to the C&O canal being packed with people. The clouds were starting to build up and it was getting windy and cold. I looked for other bike tracks – but only saw the ones I’d left earlier going the other way. I forced myself to keep going. I can see how this trail could get boring to some…..But I love the NE forest – so I was in heaven. Finally after about 15 miles and with only about 3 miles left, I saw two Appalachian Trail hikers stopping at the Rauch creek limestone filtration well. During these last three miles, I saw two bikers (with bows) and two other bow hunters walking.
I finished the ride about 2:30 pm. 38.7 miles average speed 10.3mph. some ballast rock here and there, but very nice and drains better than the C&O!

wild and wonderful - if you like this ride north bend rail trail in WVA too!

I agree.Where is it?

By mcmc6 in September, 2014

I spent 2 days on the beautiful Swatara Trail that has been massively improved.Wanted to try the Stony Creek but looks like the hunters don't want to share.Huge rocks at entrances to wherever there may be access.How about making a compromise for bikers from March to October?

Where is it?

By chris.crenshaw in September, 2014

I spent four hours on a Saturday trying to find an access point for this trail. Really wanted to ride it, but where is it? ;)

A Dangerous Trail (To you, Dauphin County)

By loindog in August, 2014

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 for a reason

By whitcooke in August, 2014

Nice ride, plenty of shade and not crowded!

Rough trail

By lcp05a in July, 2014

This trail would probably be great for mountain biking, but it was rougher than we like for our hybrids. We had to pay so much attention to the rocks and holes in the trail that it was hard to enjoy the scenery. We made it about six miles in and then one of my husband's pedals fell off. Since we didn't have the tools needed to fix it on the trail, we had to turn around (and he had to ride with only one pedal back to the car). The "road" to the trail is also very rough with large potholes.'s pretty but better suited to mountain bikes.

Stony Valley Rail Trail

By earlavro in September, 2013

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!

great peaceful ride

By rsarnol5544 in August, 2013

I did this ride a few years back from goldmine east to the reservoir and the ride was smooth with great scenery and the view at the reservoir is amazing. I then made the trek west toward dauphin out to Rausch Creek which was a little rougher but not too bad but on my way back to the car I made a detour down to the ruins at Coldspring. I'd like to try the entire trail next time but I also wonder how you can get down to Coldspring without taking the rail bed. I passed tons of cars driving down to coldspring but I have no idea how they got there. If anyone has any advice please let me know, last time I took car out there I was greeted by military personnel. 0__0

better than ever/ for those who don't like crowds

By EricBrenner in July, 2013

Trail surface is absolutely fine for a hybrid these days--big improvements seem to have made recently; did it in a heavy rain yesterday and only problem was mosquito attacks when any kind of a break was contemplated. To turn this into a loop back to Harrisburg makes for a terrific and diverse (and long) day, actually made much easier if not on a mt. bike. But always better than doubling back over 20+ miles.

Deep woods tranquility -- but consider a mountain bike!

By 18wheeler in July, 2013

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.


By laretha in May, 2012

I did this trail on Saturday of Memorial Day week end, it was in the med to high 70s and it was sunny on my trip form West to East and partly cloudy on my trip back. There are two things you will not need, Sunglasses and Sun Screen as you run though a thick Forest the entire trip but you will need bug spray. this is a very nice trail that just dose not get much use as I only ran into about ten bikers and about the same amount of hikers on my 42 mile round trip. This is a very remote trail and there is no food, no water or rest rooms from end to end. In the entire length there is only one cross road. I did it on a very old Mt Bike with a Town and Country Tire but you could do it on a Hybrid., I would not do it on a Road Bike. I am not sure that this is a family friendly trail. If I did do a family trip I would do it from the East Trail head and down to Rausch Gap. I will close by saying I had a great ride and would do this again.

Stony Valley Railroad Grade June 19, 2011

By Abdue in June, 2011

Spent the morning riding from End to End - and back. Quiet - guess fathers day kept the crowd down.

Evidence of many trees down (removed) over the past couple of months - Winds from fierce storms this spring.

A couple areas of wash-outs have been repaired.

This trail is a Game Lands Maintenance Road and receives minimal maintenance. Normally they use stone - sometimes large - and no compaction. The smooth surface expected on most Rail-Trails isn't going to be found.

Miles from anywhere - NO CELL PHONE Service.

Take a few minutes to check out the 'food plots', stream, and 'diversion wells'. The drainage from abandoned coal mines is treated in part by the diversion well. This allows acid sensitive trout to survive.

Nice Trail, Bring Your Mountain Bike

By arneson4 in June, 2011

This is a picturesque trail with excellent scenery... but I would not ride it with my hybrid, only my mountain bike. Much of the trail would be hybrid-friendly, but there are enough rough patches to make it a mountain bike-only path in my estimation.

I ride in early June 2011, starting at the parking area on the west of Goldmine Road and then riding four miles west (about half a mile past the Rausch Gap Bridge). Last year (2010), I rode the section to the east of Goldmine Road, also a nice ride -- and, if memory serves, more hybrid-friendly.

I look forward to riding the entire length of the trail this year!

Very wooded trail, bumpy at times

By grandmabiker in September, 2010

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!

Not for Street Tires!

By omega2324 in July, 2009

I started on the east end of the trail off of Gold Mine Road. The ride is a little rough with slight errosion and a few minor wash outs. The trail path in many areas does not feel like a rail to trail conversion but rather a rough vehicle access road to the State Game Lands. If you have a full suspention mountain bike it is a nice ride. I rode about 2.1 miles up to the Rausch Gap were there was once a mining railroad village. Little remains but nearby there is a cemetary with three grave markers. Lot's of wildlife can be seen on this realatively straight trail. I rode ten miles in and back and did not come across any other humans.

Gamelands Tour will affect trail Oct. 19, 2008.

By Abdue in September, 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.

Beautiful view of the reservoir - August 7, 2008

By jal052646 in August, 2008

Be sure to explore the portion of the trail east of Gold Mine Road. It's about 3 miles in length, the trail is in good shape, and the scenery is even better than on the main Stony Valley Trail. You can see the awesome, Lebanon County Reservoir on your right as you bike east. Be sure to go down the graveled path to the water's edge to get a glimpse of the small Blue Gills that swim close to shore.

Concerning the Roush Gap bridge, it is now well graded with gravel ramps going up to the bridge so that you can bike over it and down the other side very nicely.

By Jim on August 9, 2008

temp bridge installed

By gordon19 in July, 2008

A temporary bridge has been installed over the bridge at Rousch Gap, which had been damaged. The full length can be used.

bridge out, June 12, 2008, by Gordon Oliver

By gordon19 in June, 2008

The Bridge on the eastern end of the trail at Rousch Gap is closed, the floods have undermined the east base of the arch bridge. The bridge is 4.3 miles west of Gold Mine Rd. I haven't searched for a crossing yet, when I find a way I will post it

beautiful ride

By kbreed11 in October, 2007

trail was in much better shape than we expected from the other reviews that we read. Once leaves turn a little I can picture this being one of the most picturesque places for a fall ride

1 July 07 - Nice Ride - Rough

By Abdue in October, 2007

"Trail is rough. Since it's part of the Game-Lands, I don't think the maintenance is designed to make it a 'bike path'. It's a bone shaker. Nice ride anyway. Good weather, nice shade and long."

Not a rail trail

By cdebrunn in August, 2006

This was a challenging and fun trail. It was very beautiful. It is no longer a rail trail however. It looks like the trail is being maintained by people who are not riders consequently the smooth gravel has been patched and convered with modified stone which is very rough and big rocks which can be dangerous.

This is not a typical rail trail by any means. Don't even think about riding it on a road bike.

Mountain Biking without hills

By in July, 2006

"If you have a mountain bike and want something in between smooth road and rough terrain this is it. Without question this is the roughest rail trail there is. Nice scenery, only problem is your too busy looking down to avoid trees and rocks.

If you're used to typical smooth rail trails pass on this."

Nice ride in the Middle of No Where

By Alex in August, 2005

"I road this trial 8-7-05 from High Bridge to the Daulphin trail head and back. It was my first time on the trail, I parked in the parking lot on the west side of Goldmine roadm plenty of space left. I got on the trail around 12:30 and started on my way. On this half of the trail there are not many people around but once I got towards Daulphin I was passing someone every 10 min.

The only signs of human disturbance on this trail is the trail and the bridges. I heard there is a ghost town off of the trail but I did not venture out.

This was a great was to spend a sunday afternoon. Just make sure to pack a light lunch and take lots of water, you will not cross a road for 20 miles.

I clocked my round trip at 44.7 miles and was ready for the end, took 2:45 hours of ride time also I had a PPJ sandwitch for lunch and zone bars for the trail, and Gatorade in my Camelbak.

Overall great ride nice wide trail. But, if you are not in good shape start on the Lebanon end, it is a slight downhill to Daulphin, where you can have someone pick you up."

When you want to get away

By in October, 2004

"I started at the far west end near Dauphin. Once you ride in a few miles you're pretty much by yourself. At the beginning it's quite rough and bouncy. The rocks can be rather big for a ""finished"" trail. I bled air pressure off to 45 on my hybrid for my 2nd ride on this trail.

Although very enjoyable, I find it rather monotonous after awhile; you're riding through a tunnel of trees the whole time. It beats the hell out of battling cars, though. Leave your sunglasses in the car as it's too dark to use them because of the tree cover.

It's hard to find a more beautiful ride in PA in mid-October."

Spiritual Rejuvenation

By in July, 2004

"This is a great trail complete with solitude and a touch of spookiness. There are lots of remnants of abandoned coal towns. As soon as I entered the trail, I was enveloped by the forest. And there's great trout fishing at Cold Spring. "

Bicycle review

By in August, 2003

"Stony Valley was a nice ride. The day after a moderate rain there were puddles, but you can easily go around them. Also there were some rocks about 1-2 inches high, so keep your eyes open ahead as I almost did a head plant while looking at the creek and did not see a rock. Also, take bug repellant, as many bugs enjoy the trail too.

This trail should definitely be done again and again. "

Great trail

By in May, 2002

Great wild trail. Lots of deer and other wild life.

Fun Ride

By in March, 2002

"I rode this trail on March 9, 2002, from Stoney Creek to ""the ruins."" The trail was in very good shape. There were lots of deer and squirrels. It was a little discncerting when the army from Fort Indiantown Gap began having tank practice within close hearing of the trail. The takeout there was a problem for our car due to poor condition of the road. We had a very nice time."

Stoney Creek [Positive Review]

By in June, 2001

" If you're a rail/trail rider you'll like Stoney Creek. I usually go from Lebanon toward Dauphin. I would recommend this. My only negative comment would be that there are a few short segments of the trail that are deeply rutted, and there is a short section (close to the Dauphin end...) that is composed of obnoxiously large pebbles. However, it is completely shaded and wild life sitings are frequent. (I saw two black bears the last time I was there...) Nice long trail, gentle grade, good experience...give it a try."