Mill Race Trail

Pennsylvania

1 Reviews

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Mill Race Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Chester
Length: 1.2 miles
Trail end points: Lavender Hill Ln and Auburn Rd (New Garden Township)
Trail surfaces: Cinder, Dirt, Grass, Woodchips
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 12151885
Activities:

Mill Race Trail Description

The Mill Race Trail follows the former Pomeroy & Newark Railroad bed along the banks of the White Clay Creek. The trail's surface is a mix of packed dirt, woodchips and cinders. The route is mostly gentle, except for a steep section the first quarter mile of trail from the parking area to the Creek.

Along the route, you'll see the concrete abutments of “Bridge 42” where the Pomeroy & Newark passenger train crashed into the icy, flooded White Clay Creek in 1904 and half a mile downstream look for the rocky remnants of an 18th century dam that powered a local mill. There are wooden benches placed along the east branch of White Clay Creek. The area is known for its rare native plants and the trees and plants have labels identifying them. There is trout fishing accessibility along the Creek. 

Along with the Landenberg Junction Trail, the Mill Race Trail is part of the expanding New Garden Trail system.

 

 

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available in reserved spaces off Lavender Hill Lane. 

Mill Race Trail Reviews

Three trails in one

First, although "bicycling" is listed as one of the permitted uses of this trail, this is not the case. Only the middle section of the trail, which follows the old RR grade of the long abandoned Newark & Pomeroy line, is bikeable, and even this is accessible only with a mountain bike. The western and eastern sections of the trail are narrow footpaths suitable only for hiking.
That being said, the Mill Race Trail is stunning in its beauty and passes through a diverse array of habitats and environments in just a short distance.
Actually a small network of 3 paths, the trail can be divided into three different sections:
1) The western section-A dirt and woodchip paved footpath, the western section begins at a trailhead off Lavender Hill Lane. A sign marks the trailhead, which is little more than a small parking lot. The trail itself actually begins at a kiosk located at the bottom of a steep, grassy slope, descending into the woods. Once in the woods, the trail follows a rustic, wooden fence behind the subdivision's homes before zigzagging down the steep hill via a series of switchbacks. The fencing resumes near the foot of the hill, where the trail passes along the north side of a meadow-like clearing to the middle section and the banks of the White Clay Creek.
2) The middle section-The middle section of the trail follows the grade of the long-defunct Pomeroy-Newark RR, extending from Auburn Road north to the remains of a bridge that once carried the line over White Clay Creek. The site of a major train derailment back in 1904, the bridge is long gone and the concrete abutments are all that remain today. Unlike the other two sections. the middle section is both wide and level, though its grass covered and earthen surface means it's less developed than most rail trails. Other points of interest along the middle segment include wetlands which were formed when construction of the RR diverted the course of the creek, and the banks of the White Clay Creek on the east side. An old cut whose walls have partly collapsed since the line was abandoned nearly a century ago can be seen further north, between the junctions with the eastern section. Despite the passage of time, wooden RR ties still pop up from the trail's surface. so watch your step. Although the middle section connects to Auburn Road at its southern terminus, there is no formal trailhead here.
3) The eastern section-The eastern section of the trail begins just north of the junction between the western and middle sections, next to a stone picnic table that vaguely resembles a mushroom. After crossing another wetland on a small boardwalk, the dirt footpath follows the White Clay Creek around a peninsula, looping back to rejoin the middle section at the old RR bridge abutments. This section is noted for its wildlife as well as its history. The stones that formed a dam that diverted water from the creek into a race that once powered a nearby mill for which the trail is named are still visible on the east bank. Like the RR, the mill itself is long gone, having burned down in 1910.
All in all, the Mill Race Trail comes highly recommended to hikers who want a peaceful walk in the woods without going too far into the country. Long term plans call for a more developed rail trail to be built along the middle section, though the trail is great as currently featured. Visitors should also check out the nearby Landenberg Junction Trail to learn more about how this now serene and quaint suburban area was once a bustling hub of industry and transportation.

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