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Like so many trails in this area, the Great Hazleton Rails to Trails occupies the former corridor of a railroad line that supported the local coal mining industry. After a half century of disuse, the local community has turned the corridor into a source of community pride. Today, the trail totals 5.6 miles in two disconnected sections. Eventually, it will be 16.4 miles and serve as a critical connection in the Delaware Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail system (known as the D&L Trail).
The western segment begins at SR 93 and SR 424 in the southeastern corner of Hazleton. Keep in mind, however, that this section dead-ends onto Beryllium Road, a decaying, old paved road that you can't find on any map. So, although the route is 4 miles, it's best to consider it an 8-mile ride out and back until the planned trail extensions are complete. It is well maintained and flat throughout, with a crushed limestone surface perfect for walking and biking. It has nice amenities, including good signs, mile markers and parking facilities with trail maps.
The trail has frequent residential access points during the first mile and you'll find locals strolling, walking their dogs or getting in a quick jog. This trail is a popular place for geocaching, a game of hiding and seeking treasures with your GPS unit. Geocaching here is best done when leaves are off the trees, given that the trail is predominately tree-lined, with most sections covered in tree canopy. If you are looking to get a little more exercise, check out the five permanent exercise stations along the first mile.
There is only one major road crossing before the 1-mile mark, and it is well signed. At about mile 2.5, the trail briefly loses its tree cover and picks up water views, as it runs alongside Drake's Creek Reservoir. At the end of the reservoir, enjoy a scenic overlook and picnic table. From here the trail winds back into the woods and is less populated than the first half. You'll see an occasional path leading into a few neighboring communities as the trail winds down and dead-ends on Beryllium Road.
The other trail segment is 3-miles long and picks up a few miles east of Hazleton. It begins on N. Lehigh Gorge Drive and heads into thick woodlands, crossing through state game lands, and ending at a connection with the D&L Trail.
From Interstate 81 on the south side of Hazleton, take Exit 141, turning right onto 4242 Arthur Gardner Parkway. Travel east about 4 miles until it dead-ends at State Route 93. Turn left at the 93 intersection. The trail entrance and parking lots are immediately on your right and well marked by a large sign.
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