Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail

Pennsylvania

Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Dauphin
Length: 13 miles
Trail end points: Waltonville Road, Derry and Palmdale
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6729218
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail Description

The Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail, named for a local resident who died in a bicycling accident, offers a safe paved route through Derry and nearby communities. It begins in a rural area just south of Hummelstown, near the Indian Echo Caverns, and travels east to Palmdale. Along the way, the trail offers access to several parks, neighborhoods, commercial establishments and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Numerous amenities line the path, including benches, gazebos, small gardens and interpretive signs for natural and historic attractions.

At Bullfrog Valley Park, an extension branches south from the main trail through a wooded area following a long-abandoned railroad grade to Waltonville. It's here that the trail passes Shank Park, one of the town's most popular parks and the site of many community events and athletic tournaments.

Further east, in Hershey, another southern extension roughly parallels Route 743 (also known, aptly enough, as Cocoa Road) for about a mile.

Parking and Trail Access

From Rt. 322, turn south on Bullfrog Valley Road and travel 0.8 mile to Bullfrog Valley Park. The park is located near the western end of the trail and offers parking and restrooms.

On the trail's eastern end, parking can be found in Palmdale Park (1100 E. Chocolate Ave., Hershey). The park offers a playground, picnic shelter and athletic fields.

Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail Reviews

Read the earlier reviews and thought it's been 4 years since then, so maybe signage etc had improved. Not really. Derry Township Recreation Center's website stated detailed maps were available at center, so went there to get a map. The receptionist finally dug up a copy they had on file and made me a copy.

Rode trail on a week day and there were a lot of road crossings with traffic. Started at Bullfrog Valley Park. Crossed the foot bridge and went to the left. Wasn't expecting the uphill grade for mile and half, but at least is was shaded. Which probably was why there was so much foot traffic.

Leaving the park.. once you crossed the road, options to go left uphill or follow path straight toward the light. Once across the road, follow the trail go left towards 322. (Straight takes you up to the medical.) Followed trail and eventually made a right to where it ended at subdivision. After crossing to the left found bike route signs to ride along the road. They were well marked and led you back to the trail. Trail goes past Derry Recreation Center and ends. Not well marked after that. Rode back and took the path around the retention pond at Hershey and the trail down hospital drive to end up back at the park.

The paved trail was in good condition. Am I glad I rode the trail, yes, for the diversity. Is it something I need or want to drive to and do again, no. All three in our group had the same opinion.

I am not a big fan of urban paved trails but I was in the area so I thought what the heck. This is a very nice trail but there are two big issues that need to be fixed so when Jonathan looks down he has a big smile on his face. There a no maps showing you where you are and the signage is poor at best. I did this on a very old Mt Bike with a town and country tire and it and it worked for me as I did need the extra gears on a couple of the hills. I did this on a mid week morning and there was a great deal of foot traffic. I bet on a weekend this trail gets very busy. Except for a small up hill stretch the pavement is in great shape. Please read the other reviews and you will get a better picture of this trail.

We started out on the East end in Palmyra and had to ask where the trail started. Once on our way we saw two signs showing that we were on the trail. That was it, we just plain lost it. We did spend time riding around the Milton Hershey School grounds which is very big and beautiful but as we were told, it is private property. I have no doubt that it would have been a very nice ride because Hershey is a wonderful town and area. I guess I'll stick with Rails to Trails. If I get lost on one of them I shouldn't be on a bike.

Accordion

DISCLAIMER: Writer is not a fan of trails that wind through suburbia. If you have a stroller full of babies, are a new cyclist, like the comforts of Sheetz on the corner or have young ones on training wheels, then paved suburban trails are excellent choices. For me, who enjoys out-of-the-way places, a variety of surfaces, unique scenes, a feeling of being the only one “out there” and a tiny sense of adventure, it’s not my cup of tea.

All that said (though lacking good signage) this is a well-maintained trail, with amenities close by. Parents: There are several busy road crossings on this trail. There also is a playground at the east end of the trail and near the Hershey High School.

My activity partner and I rode on an unseasonably, yet WINDY, March day, beginning at Palmdale Park off East Chocolate Avenue. The lot was not easy to find -- hidden behind a business, along an alley, with no sign. The trailhead is at the first smaller lot not at the larger lot in the back. The gravel road up the hill to the house is not the trail.

Once on the trail, carefully watch for signs and guess your way for the first two or so miles. Once at Cocoa Avenue, the trail is easier to follow. (For trail developers, I would suggest ROAD paint to direct cyclists. A small sprayed silhouette on the road/trail would go a long way in giving people confidence that they’re on the right track).

Along Cocoa Avenue we ran into some drainage problems (it had rained the night before). A tiny river had formed across the trail.

The trail winds through Milton Hershey School residences, a golf course, several housing developments, along the Hershey Med Center complex and up a LONG, but not overly steep hill to the end of the trail. Keep in mind there are two trail offshoots – one in the development off Cocoa Ave.; the other near the west end trailhead at the Bullfrog Valley parking lot.

At the west end of the trail, for a mile or so, there are scenic farm fields, a duck pond and some woods, but that’s about it for nature’s beauty. Most of this trail is views of the road and buildings. Also at the west end of the trail is major water damage from heavy rains in fall 2011. The trail on the final hill is severely buckled in several spots. The spots are marked with cones and paint but beware! Hitting these buckles on the downhill will throw you off the bike!

The benches along the trail honor the gentleman for whom this trail is named and at the west end is a nice gazebo for nibbling your carrots and energy bar. At the east end a playground and picnic shelter. There are no bathrooms along the way, though we found a “Jiffy John” at a construction site near the Hershey High School.

Enjoy.

Actually a network of trails, the Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail is a paved, multi-use greenway that zigzags across Derry Township, a municipality in southeast Dauphin County best known for the town of Hershey, aka "Chocolatetown USA." Although the trail does not connect to the area's most famous attraction, Hersheypark, it does pass near downtown Hershey, with its huge chocolate factory, passes the campus of the Milton Hershey School, skirts the perimeter of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and ends near Indian Echo Caverns.

In addition to connecting most of the area's prominent attractions, the trail has numerous amenities, including benches, "mutt mits" for dog walkers, picnic tables and intepretive signage. Gazebos, small gardens and other decorative features also line the trail, providing a very pleasant experience. However, the most striking feature of the trail is the diverse number of environments that it crosses during its relatively short, 13-mile route. The eastern and western ends of the trail near Palmdale and Hummelstown, respectively, have a rural character, and passing through open fields and quaint farms. This bucolic landscape gives way to suburban development as one approaches Hershey. A signed route along local streets guides users through a small gap in a residential subdivision west of Route 743. Here, users have the option of taking a branch trail south parallel to Route 743.

The trail resumes on the eastern edge of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and follows Route 322 around the northern perimeter of the massive hospital. Numerous businesses, as well as the Hershey Convention Center, are located directly across Route 322 on this section, and the "thwak thwak thwak" of Medevac Helicopters landing and taking off is also frequently heard.

A second branch trail that extends south from Bullfrog Valley Park treats users to another environment. Constructed on a long-abandoned railroad grade, this trail passes through lush woodlands, with the sounds of running water from nearby creeks always present. Rock cuts that were constructed for the railroad can be seen just east of Shank Park. The trail divides again at Shank Park, and users can either follow a spur to the park's athletic fields, concession stand, restroom faciltiies with flush toilets and parking lot, or continue through another subdivision to Waltonville Road. The presence of numerous yard decorations, bushes and gardens on this final section demonstrate how residents of this development have embraced the trail, which could be cited as a selling point for other trail projects that face oppostion from skeptical landowners.

With its superb, well-planned construction, the Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail is a great example of how a greenway network can tie a community together. The long-term potential exists for connections to Hersheypark, the Horseshoe Trail, the Capital Area Greenbelt and possibly even the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, making the Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail an important link in a future network for the Harrisburg Metropolitan area.

Sept 30, 2011. Spent the afternoon on the trail. Bullfrog Valley Park, extension following an abandoned railroad grade to Waltonville, to Shank Park. Was damaged by recent Irene/Lee storms. Portions currently closed. Major reconstruction needed.

Most of the rest of trail in good condition. Some portions still underwater from an overnight storm.

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