The Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail passes through the rolling green hills of the Schuylkill River Valley, from just outside of Tamaqua to Middleport. The trail runs immediately adjacent to US Highway 209 and was originally intended to be part of a highway widening project. The state had already removed the old rail and ties when funding for the highway was eliminated, which then created the opportunity to build a trail.
Begin your trip at the northern end of the trail in Tamaqua, a former mining town whose historic district features many beautiful renovated structures, including the 1874 Tamaqua rail station. Officially called the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Passenger Station, this Victorian-styled station has been fully restored and is a part of the Tamaqua National Register Historic District. The station now serves as a cultural and economic center within Tamaqua.
From the parking lot you can see Newkirk Tunnel, an extinct coal mine that opened in 1868 and by the 1940s penetrated 2,211 feet into the mountainside. Now gated and leaching water from internal springs, the tunnel is part a state effort to clean water flowing from mines using a passive limestone filter that removes acid, iron and aluminum contamination. The trailhead area has signs about the mine's history and water treatment.
The route south from here to Middleport is challenging: the trail traverses undulating hills, many at maximum grade. The dirt and sand base can become soft and unsuitable for biking in wet weather. Use caution on the trail after heavy rains.
Large mile markers indicate the length of your trip in each direction. There are plans to extend the trail to Pottsville for a total of 16 miles, but this development has not yet been scheduled.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Tamaqua trailhead from Interstate 81, take Exit 131 to Highway 54 East. Continue on 54 East until the stoplight for State Route 309 in Rush. Turn right onto 309 South to Tamaqua. In Tamaqua, turn right onto State Highway 209 (West Broad Street). Continue through Tamaqua on 209. Just outside of Tamaqua, turn left at a sign for Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail and proceed down the short gravel road to the parking area.
To reach the Middleport trailhead, take US Highway 209 into Middleport, where it becomes Union Street. Parking is on Union Street between Washington and St. Clair streets.
Geocaching along the Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail
Checked the beginning and the end of this trail out a couple of days ago and came back to try and grab the new geocaches along this trail. Great fun. Definitely bike-able or walk-able with my touring bike.Various interesting hides off trail and right ...
Trail was very wet and slushy not good after rains. trail was pretty plain, nice pole line and coal banks to run downhills on. one run and done but worth the trip.
"Much better biking in area than this path. Close to highway, noisy, and without interesting sights. A line of trees/shrubs between path and road would help."