Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail

Pennsylvania

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Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Berks
Length: 28.6 miles
Trail end points: Blue Marsh Lake Visitor Center (on Palisades Drive) and N. Heidelberg Road
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Dirt, Grass, Gravel
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 7137944
Trail activities: Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking

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Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail Description

The Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail loops around a manmade reservoir just outside of Reading in southeastern Pennsylvania. The trail has a mixture of surfaces (hard-packed dirt, grass, gravel and abandoned roads) with some single-tracking and climbs that make it best suited for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

You'll travel through open fields and woodlands and enjoy spectacular views of the lake. Bird watching is popular on the trail, especially during the fall's hawk migration. As a recreational hotspot, you'll also find many amenities, including picnic areas, food concession stands, a small beach (swimming allowed) and boat launches; restrooms can be found at the lake's visitor's center.

On the eastern end of the lake, just off Palisade Drive, a connection to the 6-mile Union Canal Trail can take travelers into the city. Or trail-goers can opt to hop on an on-road section of the Schuylkill River Trail from here, which will eventually stretch nearly 130 miles from Pottsville to Philadelphia.

Parking and Trail Access

A gravel parking area is available at the Blue Marsh Lake Visitor Center (1268 Palisades Drive) and there are additional parking areas all along the trail.

Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail Reviews

We hiked a portion of the trail from Old Church Rd east to just past the corn field, approx 3 miles, with our three kids. Two issues: a huge number of ticks. We spent most of the walk removing ticks. No one persons fault, just an FYI to fellow hikers, tick season in PA is brutal this year. Also fisherman set up along the water leaving trash, rusty fish hooks and lots of old fishing line. Please people! Leave no trace and whatever you carry in, carry out!

Just rode most of the trail, clockwise. There are so many side trails that look like they could be the main trail that it's easy to get off track. The main trail needs better signage, maybe it's own unique blaze, to distinguish it from side roads and side trails. Even white arrows painted on roads were hidden by gravel at times.

You really need a mountain bike to do the whole trail. I used a cyclocross bike and had to walk in many places due to big roots, loose rocks and loose soil on steep uphills or downhills. However, it is still fun - it can feel like skiing on a bike as you carve through single-track curves and bomb down the safer hills.

My daughter and I have hiked the entire lake, using the shore line thos winter. This is only possible because the Army Corps of Eng. lowers the lake every winter for flood control. We did it in 3 different sections (Thank goodness for Google maps) using some sections of trail, bridges to traverse areas interrupting the shoreline. Its a seasonal treat to hike the shoreline.

Accordion

Rode three miles from visitors center clockwise past State Hill boat launch. Trail well-maintained with mud holes filled with gravel despite recent rains. Not ideal for road bikes, but not impossible either. Note that the little red "do not enter" signs over the dam itself mean YOU.

Hiked in 4-5 inches of old snow. Squirrel run was nice and well traveled! A short loop. I went up the western side of the lake mostly in the woods. It was a deer path with no human tracks after the first half mile. There were a large variety of critter tracks all along the way. I enjoyed my trek it was tiring for me since I was breaking through a crust of icy surface into the virgin 4-5 inch soft snow under it. All in all a good workout. Ganly's is close by and has good craft specials on tap, a great benefit!

Trail

Mostly on Army Corps of Engineers and PA Game Commission lands, the trails surrounding the lakes are varied. Some sections are along miles of fields, some along the lake and some through young forests. Some are relatively flat but most have a bit of contour. The main trail around the lake is about 30 miles. By using old roads and side trails you can make smaller loops. Many times I have had a tremendous amount of solitude only minutes away from the 5th largest metro area in the state. Great gem in our area.

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