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The Huntingdon and Broad Top Rail Trail follows a former rail corridor stretching just over 10 miles from Riddlesburg to Tatesville in southern Pennsylvania. The trail's name comes from the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad, which was founded in 1852 to carry coal.
The trail's northernmost two miles, between Riddlesburg and Hopewell, offer a scenic trek through woodlands. Historical landmarks along this section include the Hopewell Train Station and the Keystone Foundry Museum, which opened in 1857 as a railroad repair shop and place to produce mining tools and equipment.
From Hopewell, the trail continues four miles south to Cypher and includes a railroad trestle bridge (built in the 1860s) over the Juniata River. A portion of this stretch of the trail is actually a shared low-stress road, so trail users should be vigilant and cautious. The final four miles of the trail to Tatesville, recently completed, is again separated, offering a peaceful journey through dense woodlands.
A trailhead with parking is available in Hopewell on Cooper Sawmill Road.
We have a large family(6) with ages ranging from 2-11,this is one of the best trails we've come across. Easily accessible with a side by side double stroller(some trails we've had to stop and fold our stroller to access hiking areas),flat terrain, keep an eye out for snakes! This is our favorite place to blow of some energy safely,it's well maintained and a gorgeous hike.
We took some time out to do this trail on a drive from Philadelphia to Ohio. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Bedford, so the drive to Hopewell was about 30 minutes. The drive there was beautiful on this mid-summer morning. With a little bit of effort and following the bike path signs, we made our way to the old Hopewell train station and parked. As we were getting our tandem bike ready, some local ladies stopped by and were able to point us in the correct direction to Tatesville.
When leaving Hopewell, you are on the main road just long enough to cross a small bridge, then you are on the gravel trail. It starts out as a shared road, but we only encountered one slow moving car. The gravel in this section is larger, and there are areas with potholes, so you need to watch were you ride. Here the trail is partially shaded and there are nice views of the river, meadows and the rising hills.
After passing through a camping area, the trail no longer allowed cars, and the gravel got much smaller and the potholes went away. But the gravel was not hard packed and in some places bogs down your tires. We saw mostly local riders on hybrids and a pair on fat bikes, as well as some walkers.
Near Cypher there is a beautiful bridge/river crossing followed by a narrow gorge. Pause here for some time to take in the view. From there the trail starts a long slow steady incline. This, combined with the thick, small grained gravel, can be challenging. There are a couple of outhouse/restrooms along the trail between Hopewell and Tatesville.
This is a beautiful trail. Hats off to local organizations and government who helped create it. I would only suggest, if possible, to pack down the small gravel, and maybe add some directional signs (like in Hopewell) and maybe some mile markers noting the distances to the next landmarks.
We will be back again to ride the length of this trail and get to parts we missed, though we will probably come back with wider knobby tires.
November 12, 2016, 45 degrees outside, 1:30 pm start at Hopewell. It was beautiful. 2.3,4 gear going in 3.5,6 coming out. Only passed 2 other bikers. Riding along the river edge was beautiful relaxing and so enjoyable.
White tail deer crossing the road in front of us added to the beauty of this trail.
We only did the southern half today. Looking forward entire trail next trip.
Parking a little hard to find but we found it. Follow the green bike signs.
Great job to the organization on this trail!
We rode three trails in 3 days in this area, the Ghost Town, Lower and HB&T. The H&BT is the shortest of the three.
We started at the northern trail head which had no signs to the parking area. The 1st mile or so is typical rail trail stone dust followed by a short road connection to a gravel road of about 3 or 4 miles. This gravel road is a bit rough, but passible with 32mm tires and isn't very enjoyable. The best part of this trail is the newer southern section.
My family and I rode from the Cypher TH to Coopers Run TH round trip then N towards Tatesville for roughly another 1.5 miles before heading back. Although we are locals, it was our first trip to the trail. Actually, my wife and I were both on new bikes and this was my first bike ride in probably 25 years (I'm 41). I was a little concerned it might be too much for a couple newbies and my 7 year old daughter but it was a comfortable ride and no complaints until shortly before we turned around. Mostly, I think the complaints were less about being tired and more about getting home to eat dinner. We spent about one hour on the trail. Would give 5 stars if a Port-a-Jon had been available.
This section of the trail is pretty smooth and requires minimal effort to keep the bike rolling. Three of us were riding mountain bikes and my 7 year old was on a 20" BMX style bike. We are an active family and spend time playing sports and time in the outdoors, but none of us goes to a gym or works out regularly with the exception of my teenage daughter. I mention this because I saw another review that might lead you to believe this trail is difficult to ride. It is not-at least not the section we rode. We are in average shape and haven't been on bikes since we were kids. Passed a couple leisurely riding ( in their 60's) and saw 2 other gentlemen getting ready to ride as we were leaving-both were 50+. Although we might be a little sore in the morning, this is a relatively easy bike ride.
We picked a nice afternoon with comfortable temps and no bugs, even though much of the trail is near the river or in the woods-depending when u ride, b prepared for bugs. It's a scenic, peaceful ride with the highlight in this section being the old railroad bridge -great photo op. We are fortunate to live close so I intend to check out the full trail from Tatesville to Riddlesburg. Check it out-a nice family ride.
Did this trail very early on a weekday in August. Very serene and beautiful ride. The slight incline of the trail was not too bad. (Unlike some, used to rail trails having inclines) Trail was well maintained. Camped at Woy Bridge Campground nearby which was also very serene and beautiful. Owner was very accommodating; they have rustic cabins and tent sites right on the river. Did different bike routes each day we stayed there. Would definitely come back and ride the H&BT trail again! Congratulations to all the folks who worked so hard to make this trail such a wonderful ride.
We started out at Tatesville. The path and scenery was very nice. Periodically we would hit thick patches of fine gravel and fishtail. The trail does have gentle grades, but was no problem.
About 5.5 miles in (short of the Coopersburg Rec area), the fine gravel became larger gravel and the ride became very bumpy. We only went another 1.5 miles and turned around. We were hoping to do the entire trail, but only did about 7 miles of the 10 (one way). We were not sure if the rest of the trail to Riddlesburg was the same way (bumpy).
Another caution, is that the from from around the Cooprersburg rec area to Riddlesburg, the trail can have motorized vehicles. There is a 15 mph posted speed limit. We did see a motorcycle on the path.
I am hoping that the trailer would totally become fine packed gravel for the entire 10 miles. That would make the trail a 5 star.
Just finished a beautiful 4th of July ride on the Cypher to Tatesville stretch! Trail conditions were perfect. Slight incline to Tatesville; nice downhill cruise back to Cypher. Trailhead and parking lot at Cypher nice, but remote and a tad hard to find. Also, no restroom facility.
Overall great ride!!! Can't wait to return!
This trail is a little more challenging than a typical rail trail because only a portion of it is truly a rail trail. It was fun to do, but if you are expecting a fairly flat rail trail you’ll probably be disappointed.
We rode most of this trail on a Saturday in July. We started our ride at Riddlesburg. There is plenty of parking there but no bathrooms or port-a-johns. (In fact, we rode the trail as far as Cypher and back and there were no bathrooms along the entire route except for a hideous pit toilet in the Cooper’s Recreational Area. On the other hand, we only went 13 miles round trip, so bathrooms weren’t essential.) Once we left Riddlesburg the trail was a typical rail trail for just over two miles. The trail was compacted gravel, flat and well maintained. It was slightly damp when we were there so it felt less stable than a solid surface, but it was easy enough to negotiate. The trail was very nicely shaded and comfortable to ride. It crosses two side streets, but this is a very quiet little town so you don’t have to worry about traffic.
The quietness of the town was helpful once we reached Hopewell because here the trail follows residential streets for several blocks. We saw no cars (and they would have been traveling pretty slowly if we had seen them). The bike route is marked with signs, but I had looked at the TrailLink satellite view of this trail before we rode it, and I found that helpful for negotiating the route. (Note: There was no cell service with my AT&T phone, so I’m glad I wasn’t depending on that for GPS help. My wife had a Verizon phone with her that got a very weak signal.) At the end of the residential portion the bike trail crosses a more major road though, again, there was no traffic on it that we saw. You have to ride on this road for about 150 feet and then the bike route turns onto another road.
Once you turn onto this side road the bike route follows it for about three miles or more, and here is where the route is not a rail trail. The road is pavement that has been covered with gravel; it was trickier than the trail, especially for my wife’s road bike (not so much for my hybrid). It is an active road, carrying people into the Cooper’s Recreational Area. We don’t like riding in traffic, but we didn’t feel concerned here because the gravel forces people to drive very slowly (and it’s also noisy, so no car can take you by surprise). The road is definitely not flat, but the hills are gradual enough that our middle-aged legs were able to handle the ride (though we were both a bit sore the next morning). The gravel was a little challenging since we normally ride rail trails or on the streets around out neighborhood. The road is nicely shaded, and it follows the river, so the views were pleasant. Eventually the gravel road ended and the actual bike trail picked up again.
We wanted to cross the trestle bridge over the Juniata so we followed the trail until we had crossed over the bridge (a nice view and, at that point, a nice trail). Just beyond the bridge there was a parking area where we turned around and made the return trip. Beyond that parking area the trail runs four more miles to Tatesville and appeared to be a well maintained rail trail.
I would recommend this trail if you want something a little more strenuous than a typical rail trail. After we finished our ride we took the driving tour of Bedford County’s thirteen historic covered bridges. The combination of the bike ride and the driving tour made for a very nice day trip.
We rode this trail from Hopewell south in the late fall of 2015. The segment south of Cypher Rd was muddy and not yet finished. It looked like an active project at that point in time. It will be a nice ride when complete. I'll post an update next time I check it out, which should be spring/summer of 2016.
After reading that last trail review, what a disappointing ride down there yesterday! I expected a nice, fully completed six miles of new trail, but it certainly did not turn out to be as such! It started out well, with the intact Riddlesburg depot, and that beautiful passenger train photo and railroad history plaque at the trail's northern terminus. A nice shady run beside the river on a brand new trail. "Oh joy!... This is going to be a real treat", I thought. It was nice to see the little depot at Hopewell, and that beautiful little trail parking lot beside it, 2.1 miles from the Riddlesburg trailhead. Then the trouble began. A family of fellow bicyclists from Western Pennsylvania appeared behind me, and asked me if I was "trying to follow this trail." "Sure, follow me." Well, the railroad grade veers left, and gets fully encroached on south of the depot, and it looked pretty obvious that the "bike route" sign was directing us back to the railroad grade at the south end of town. No sir! There was no further trail development south of the depot! The family behind me gave up, and I tried heading south on the highway berm, climbed up the dangerously busy main highway for a half mile, then gave up. Where was the continuation of this "nice trail" I was searching for? As I reached the northern end of Hopewell, a friendly old gentleman who had lived there since 1956 struck up a conversation with me. "Where is that trail south of town", I asked. "Does it exist?" He gave me directions, and back down south I went. No sir. No trail. I asked a family down there. "Down that gravel road to the SOUTHWEST?" Yes! You would never ever guess that the railroad turned RIGHT, and headed down what is now COOPER SAWMILL ROAD, TWP. T490! Here's the confusing secret: The undeveloped railroad grade you would certainly try (as we did) to follow SOUTHEASTWARD (to the LEFT) was the H&BT's Sandy Run Branch, a 2.6 mile line to its namesake's location. The "trail" SOUTHWESTWARD, which obviously left Hopewell on a long-gone curved trestle (to the RIGHT), if you want to call it a rail-trail, is a four mile long dirt and (one-inch) semi-graveled, dusty, dirty, rutted recreational access road, filled with passing RV's, motor homes, and big trucks pulling boats down along the river! Egads! What a rough, HORRIBLE ride on a bicycle! As rain was threatening (Would THAT have created a muddy mess!), I made it 2.5 miles, halfway down to the being-redecked Cypher trestle, and turned around. Not a pleasant ride... Not pleasant at ALL! If this is to be a CONTINUOUS rail-trail, I can't imagine how! Don't even BOTHER trying the Hopewell-Cypher portion of this trail! I hope there is to be a REAL trail involved down at Cypher, as I am really looking forward to riding over that neat 1860 trestle! Somebody please post when that bridge has been redecked and the cut and trail completed north from Cypher. That cut had a 10mph speed restriction on it back in 1942, 11 or so years from the railroad's abandonment. A few other interesting facts from the September 27th, 1942 employee timetable, which someone as so nice to post on a H&BT website: Top speed for first-class trains on the H&BT was 35mph, not bad for an unsignaled mountain steam railroad. The railroad was 44.1 miles long, from Milepost 0.0 at its co- Pennsylvania Railroad Huntingdon depot (which incidentally still existed, right across the platform from today's Amtrak platform, until the mid-1980's), to its southern terminus at Mount Dallas. The H&BT was a "bridge road" for the "Pennsy" traffic, to and from its own lines in south-central Pennsylvania. Riddlesburg was located at MP29.4, Hopewell was MP31.5, and Cypher checked in at MP36.7. If you were a kid back in the 1960's (I was not so fortunate), you may have ridden on the old EVERETT RAILROAD tourist train, on the former southern vestige of this railroad. And while you're down there, DO visit the beautifully restored H&BT depot complex down at Everett, for a wonderful documentation of the history of this railroad. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 7-6-2014
The trail is now open from Riddlesburg on the north through to the trestle bridge near Cypher making a total of 6 miles to hike and bike. The trail passes through the Cooper Recreation area that is a free public recreation area for primitive camping, boating and fishing. Construction to re-deck the 350 ft trestle is scheduled for completion in September 2014 making the trail passable to Cypher trail head.
We have had the good fortune to meet the friendliest people during our walks. The locals are quick to provide the history and local attractions and the number of families and groups using the trail are inspiring.
Just completed an evening bike trip on the H&BT Rail Trail. Starting at the Riddlesburg Trail head and continuing on to the Cooper recreation area. What a wonderful trip for a 50 something year old novice. Only one slight hill through the town of Hopewell. Round trip is approximately 8 miles. A perfect length for an evening ride.
The trail holds several scenic views. We first noticed the large, mountain like mounds which were reported to us to be "coke ash" which is the remnants of coal to coke production. Hiking North at .3 miles we passed trickling waterfalls that brought a cool breeze down the trail and at the last bench site before the Hopewell trail head we rested and observed an eagle perched on a Sycamore tree. What a delightful hike. Can't wait till the balance of the trail is open.
Once we found the parking area, our family group wandered down the trail enjoying the river and woodlands running along side us. It was quiet, peaceful, and well maintained. My grandson's stroller rolled smoothly over the fine-graveled path. There were even benches to sit and rest and watch the river. We'll be returning in the future!
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