The Conewago Recreation Trail in northwestern Lancaster County parallels Conewago Creek over most of its length, as it passes through farmland and forests. A unit of the Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation, the 5.1-mile trail occupies the former rail bed of the Cornwall-Lebanon Railroad, from PA Route 230 near Elizabethtown to the Lebanon County line, where it joins the 14.5-mile Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail
Robert H. Coleman built the railroad in 1883 as a private venture, and the line operated for nearly a century. Trains transported iron ore to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which took it to the mill in Steelton. The railroad also ran passenger trains to and from Mt. Gretna, home of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua and the National Guard encampment for nearly a half century starting in 1885.
The well-graded crushed stone trail is suited for a variety of visitors, including pedestrians, cyclists and cross-country skiers. Numerous horse farms dot the trail, and equestrian use along the corridor is evident. There are only six road crossings; they are well-marked and usually involve low-volume rural roads.
From the trailhead on Pennsylvania Route 230, the trail heads northeast through the countryside. Over most of its length, the trail runs along the quiet, meandering Conewago Creek and through rich Lancaster County farmland. Most of the trail is shaded by trees that edge the fields and meadows.
The crossing of Mill Street, where the original railroad bridge has been removed, features sloped ramps down to the road level and back up to the trail. Use caution at this crossing since it's on a curve.
At the Lebanon County line where the Conewago Rail Trail joins the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail, there is no trailhead access. Signs and a change of surface signify the transition from one trail to the other.
To reach the State Route 230 trailhead from Elizabethtown, proceed northeast for about 2 miles on State Route 230 (North Market Street). The trailhead is on the right just before a bridge over Conewago Creek.
To other access points: State Route 241 (Mount Gretna Road) runs parallel to the trail over most of its length and provides access via rural side roads. Also, there are small parking areas (enough for a few cars) at most points where the trail intersects roads.