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Although relatively short at 1.8 miles, the Muhlenberg Rail Trail extends the ability of residents to exercise or visit local parks, schools, and businesses under their own power. The asphalt trail that runs through a residential and light industrial area of Muhlenberg Township north of Reading is mostly flat and partially covered by a tree canopy that provides welcome shade in the summer.
The path uses the former corridor of the busy East Penn Branch of the Reading Railroad that ran between Allentown and Reading beginning in the 19th century. The rail line fell into disuse in the 1980s, and Muhlenberg Township acquired the right-of-way in 2003 for the trail.
The trail runs between Mt. Laurel Road in the north to Montrose Avenue in the borough of Laureldale in the south. The trail crosses three streets: two at grade and one via an underpass. It also parallels a former electric trolley line that ran along Rosedale Avenue and 11th Avenue on the west side. Overhead power lines mark its former course today.
The northern trailhead at Mt. Laurel Road posed a challenge for trail builders. The railroad spanned the road on a bridge about 25 feet overhead, but that bridge had been removed in the 1970s. A wheelchair-accessible path was installed that gradually slopes to the trail from the parking lot below.
For the next 0.5 mile to Hay Road, you’ll pass an old commercial area east of the trail, and mixed business, residential, and park space on the west. Temple Playground is adjacent to the trail; access the playground from the trailhead by heading west on Mt. Laurel Road 0.1 mile. Turn left onto Kutztown Road, go 0.2 mile, and then turn left onto Euclid Avenue and go about 190 feet. Turn left onto 10th Avenue, go 295 feet, and turn right into the playground parking lot.
From Hay Road, the next 0.3 mile of trail is bordered by housing before you reach the sprawling site of the 24-acre Empire Steel Castings, which has been mothballed. Its towering steel structures make this an industrial landmark on the route.
The remainder of the trail passes through Laureldale. The 0.4-mile segment from Frush Valley Road to Elizabeth Avenue is bordered by housing and a small sports field. The trail goes beneath Elizabeth Avenue on an underpass and then ends 0.3 mile later at a parking lot on Montrose Avenue. Gethsemane Cemetery is located just west of the trail, and the 38-acre Bernhart Reservoir Park is about 0.5 mile south. There are several cafés and taverns along this last segment.
To reach the northern trailhead from the intersection of US 222 and US 422 northwest of Reading, take US 222 N for 5.6 miles. Exit at SR 61 S toward Tuckerton. Turn right onto SR 61 S, and go 0.6 mile. Turn left onto Tuckerton Road, go 0.5 mile, and turn right onto US 222 Bus./N. Fifth St. Hwy. Go about 440 feet, and turn left onto Mt. Laurel Road. Go 0.6 mile, and turn right into the trailhead parking lot on Railroad Ave.
To reach the northern trailhead from the intersection of US 222 and US 22 Bus. in Reading, continue south on US 222 Bus. S, and go 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Kutztown Road, and go 0.3 mile. Turn left onto Mt. Laurel Road, and go 0.1 mile. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot on Railroad Ave.
Nice little smooth paved trail. Perfect for beginners that might want to take small steps towards power walking or jogging or running. Love it.
Nice walk but a quick bike ride. Kind of like walking through people's back yards a bit. Liked that it was close to the city and rather hidden away from the Schuylkill Trails.
The description of the nearly 2-mile long Muhlenberg Rail Trail on this website is outdated. The trail, which extends through the suburbs of Laureldale and Temple north of Reading, is now paved for its entire length and has well developed trailheads at both ends, ensuring a smooth ride or hike. Although there are no public restrooms, the trail does feature several benches and trash receptacles. Another notable amenity is the wheelchair ramp at the northern end off Mt. Laurel Road. This asphalt ramp allows users who are in wheelchairs or have other limited mobility issues to bypass a steep slope on the main pathway that is immediately south of the northern trailhead and is ADA-compliant. Aside from this slope, which was the result of a bridge removal following the abandonment of the rail line, the trail is practically level and follows an almost straight line. It is also tree-lined for most of its length, providing users with ample shade on hot summer days and is a great asset to the suburban communities through which it passes. My only caveat is that access to the trail is somewhat limited. Although branch trails to the communities on the north side of Laureldale have been constructed, there are several other points that appear to have been envisioned as connectors to nearby streets that have not yet been finished. Most of these "ghost accesses" are located along the northern sections in Temple, where one is blocked from a nearby street by thick brush and a small stone wall impedes passage across a small grass lot that could easily be developed as a pocket park. These unfinished access points, along with its relative isolation from other regional greenways, likely prevent the trail from realizing its full potential. These reservations aside, the Muhlenberg Rail Trail is a great addition to the extensive network of trails that crisscross the Reading Metro area. Hopefully, the superb paving job on the trail will also inspire Reading officials to make much-needed improvements on a couple of other regional greenways, most notably the Neversink Connector and Angelica Creek trails.
This is a very nice leisurely trail to walk or bike. It is not the most scenic, but definitely great for the community to have right in their backyard. At this time the Muhlenberg Rail Trail has 16 geocaches placed along its entirety. A nice easy trail with no inclines.
We ride this trail pretty regularly as a means of cutting across the Township without having to use the busier 5th street or Kutztown Road. The trail is wonderfully paved; kept clear of debris; benches in several places along the way. A woman was out one day planting some flowers along the trail. As another reviewer stated, there's not a whole lot to see, but it does provide easy access to a lot of different places along the way. And Oliver's or Monte Lauro are both great places to stop and get a bike to eat at the beginning or end of your trip.
The rail-trail is paved since Winter 2012, and it is pretty state-of-the-art. There are paved parking lots at the Mount Laurel Road trailhead (across from Oliver's Place) and down where the trail ends (begins?) off of Montrose Ave next to the battery factory. The trail also has several handicap accessible ramps. It is busy on nice days with a mix of walkers, joggers, bikers, and dogs.
This is a serviceable community recreation trail--flat, easy, short--no thrills or dramatic scenery. But we who live here in Temple find it a great place to get in a quick ride/walk away from the tyranny of traffic.
Is there an update as to when this trail will be paved etc? This is a great trail but it seems neglected lately, lots of standing water this summer. Would love to see the work done. I saw an article in the Reading Eagle that the work estimates came in higher than expected and they were waiting for PennDot to determine if they would help.
I heard that the township is planning on paving and installing trailheads in the Spring of 2011. According to the report, the trail is to be paved with a bituminous surface and signage is to be installed as well.
The surface of the trail is composed of sharp, loose stone. I fell twice as the surface slipped out from underneath me and had to pay $80 for 2 new tyres as the stone cut down to the kevlar lining. Glad I did, would have had many punctures without them. Mountain bikes only at this point. Hopefully they will pave soon. (April '09)
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