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The John Bartram Trail (a.k.a. Bartram Trail) is simply one section of the very involved Schuylkill River Trail, which is being developed in sections as funds and capacity permit. Currently 9.6 miles of the Bartram Trail is open. There are two disconnected pieces of trail that have been developed for non-motorized use.
The Appalachian Trail crosses this section of the Schuylkill River Trail, southwest of the village of Port Clinton, and sections of the trail cross Pennsylvania Gamelands. You can buy fresh roasted peanuts and penny candy in Port Clinton from one of the few remaining penny candy stores in the state.
Visit the other Schuylkill River Trail segments: Valley Forge to Philadelphia, the Thun Trail, Schuylkill River Trail - Northern Berks County, Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, and the Phoenixville to Pottstown segment.
To get to the southern trailhead near Hamburg from Interstae 78, take Route 61 North and turn right onto Jetson Drive, directly across from Cabela's. At the T turn right onto Industrial Drive, and follow this road to the railroad tracks. Make an immediate left onto Kernsville Dam Road and follow straight to the trailhead and parking.
After our recent rains, this trail has gotten soupy and hazardous in places. Be especially caution of these wet areas especially in the shaded areas on upper half of the trail. These spots could really benefit from an application of crushed stone. Otherwise this is a fun and friendly rail-trail.
Nice and well maintained trail for an easy relaxing walk or short bike ride.
Did the trail today, the grass is trimmed and the trail is in excellent condition , I only wish it were longer. Looking forward to returning in the fall. Oh, and lots of good places to eat in the area.
This is my favorite trail in PA, but it's not 9.6 miles. It's 6 miles but wonderful nonetheless
I reviewed this trail earlier and rated it very high! But we just rode it again for the second time this year and sadly I have to down grade my rating. It appears that nobody is doing any maintenance to the trail any longer. There has always been an narrow section nearer the end of the trail but you could always ride on the grass to make room for oncoming bikes, but now that grass is at least 3ft high on both sides of the trail and impossible to use for riding. The trail also has spots that need repaired with gravel. The Kiosk in the parking lot appears to have had the legs sawn off and is just leaning on the ground. The trail is in dire need of TLC and it has been like this for at least 2 months if not longer.
It was an exceptionally mild December day today. There quite a few runners, hikers and bikers on the trail. The real surprise was the cool holiday decorations added to the mile markers. A very clever person added garland and miniature Santa dolls to the markers and decoys. Very cool.
Even though I volunteer with maintenance on another section of the overall Schuylkill River Trail, the Bartram section is my favorite. Yes, it is 6 miles from the main parking lot to the fence at the Auburn bridge, but if you read the literature closely it says 8 or 9 "disconnected miles". There are actually another few miles on the other side of Auburn which might be connected some day. But there is ample opportunity for additional miles by going the other direction from the main parking lot on Kernsville Dam Road. There is the very lightly used dead end macadam road down to the dam and also a mile and a half trail (just behind the Job Johnnie) that goes to the edge of downtown Hamburg and on to the Reading Heritage Rail Museum. Just beyond the bridge over the Schuylkill River there is also another option to your left along a park and the river. The best things about the 6 mile section are that there are absolutely no road crossings and the grade is virtually flat. I always find the surface to be in fine condition no matter whet the weather has been. There had been a few drainage issues when the trail was first opened but they apparently have all been remedied.
My wife and I recently purchased hybrid bikes and have been on a mission to complete every trail around us. This trial is very flat and very scenic the entire way. Almost every half mile there was a bench or picnic table and we stopped about half way and ate a packed lunch we brought with us. Overall it was a good experience. The only thing is that its says the trail is about 8 miles long, but we got to mile 6 and there was a large fence and the trail just ended at the Schuylkill River with no way across.
It was a nice trail and we much enjoyed it but it is not 8 miles long. More like 6
Rode this trail for first time today. The surface was nice and smooth; very few ruts or problems. Very scenic ride with views of the Schuykill River.
The path runs through the forest and will be completely shaded during the summer.
It was a beautiful spring day and there were a number of riders, walkers and joggers on trail. Quite a few dogs but all were leashed and seemed accustomed to bikers. The trail is wide at the southern end, near Hamburg, and easy to move around walkers, joggers and dogs. The trail narrows at the northern end, but, the trail is used mostly by bikers in that area.
The trail ends at the "Auburn Bridge." The bridge is in sad shape and would require rebuilding of the deck to allow the trail to continue northward.
As is, the trail is a nice 6 mile ride from the trail head at Hamburg to the Auburn Bridge. Recommend for anyone to enjoy.
My wife and I live near Reading so this trail is one we ride frequently. It's easy to get to and the trail is always well groomed. It's plenty wide enough to easily share with hikers and other riders although it's rarely crowded. Our favorite times to ride are from mid-June through mid-July when the white rhododendrons are blooming along the trail and in the fall when the weather is cool and the autumn colors make the ride extra special. Don't let the occasional whitetail startle you as it leaps across the trail in front of you.
Flat wide trail great surface for biking and well maintained. Rode it for the first time in August 2014 and will be back! Great trail for train lovers as Port Clinton has a wonderful rail yard and station. My only complaint is it needs to be extended past the 6 miles. It would be awesome to ride across the trestle bridge that is fenced off and is the end of the trail now.
This is a really nice trail. We visit this trail 2 to 3 times a week. Very scenic! You can watch the train yard in Port Clinton. And if you hit it just right - you can watch the train pull out and go under the bridge of the trail. In the evening we see deer crossing the trail. Really nice to get out after a long day. Well maintained and a nice 12 mile round trip from hamburg.
We started at the trailhead near Cabela's and rode the entire six-mile length to where the trail currently ends at the old railroad bridge. The entire trail's in great shape. A fantastic 12-mile, round-trip ride.
Nice packed gravel trail. No problems on my road bike. Start by Cabella's. Six miles to the closed bridge and then back. I hear you can go south into town, but we opted for Cabella's A/C. Even on a day when temps were in 90's, we were cool by the river, in the shade, with our man-made breeze (our peddling). Just wish the trail was longer.
Support rails to trails so we can finish the bridge!!
One great ride on a great fall day. Mile for mile it is one of the very best trails I have done. I only did from the Kernsville Dam at Hamburg to the closed bridge a 6 mile ride up. When I got back to the parking lot and talked to a local I found out about a detour where I could have done the whole trail but it was to late in the day. He did tell me that there is a very big climb going and coming back though. This trail has a lot to offer, a great surface, Mile Markers every half mile, Park benches, a great canopy and great scenery. It is to bad that they just can not get the bridge re planked. I did this on a very old Mt Bike but it could be done on almost any kind of bike. It is family friendly and because of its short distance and not much of a grade it would be a great trail for a young family.
This is a very nice run. Up and back from the parking lot near the basin monument is approximately 6 miles (according to GPS). If I am not mistaken, you can probably run into Hamburg, cross the river to you hit the "Steel something or other" trail head, then make a left and follow the trail signs to the rail yard museum.
Started at Kernsville Dam Road. The roadbed is very compact and smooth riding. Rode to where the fence is up at the curved railroad bridge (approx. 6 miles) to this point. The scenery is great and when passing above Port Clinton you can look down at the Reading and Northern's engine facilities and offices. The grade is hardly noticable so even the rail trail beginner will have no problems. I hope they will complete more of the trail in the near future. The plus here is when your done riding the trail you have a wide choice of where to eat.
The Hamburg section is closed off 6 miles in the map is not accurate so this trail is really in 3 sections not just 2. The bridge needs to be replanked and the other side needs maintenance also. But besides that I enjoyed riding these trails. I prefer the section from landingville to auburn and a short road ride to the auburn trail head. The Hamburg section is nice and it also links to the Appalachian trail. The sections that are open and maintained are very nice.
Very nice ride the only issue I have is where the trails split there needs to be signs to tell you where to get back on. I rode from landing ville to auburn and after jumping on the second section in auburn the trail ends and I could not find the next trail head. The map shows a continuous trail from auburn to Hamburg. So today I'm driving down to Hamburg to ride the trail backwards and see where they connect. Also there is another trail in auburn that cuts off from the bartram trail and runs back in the direction you come in from auburn on the opposite side of the river along the railroad tracks. I am going to investigate that section this weekend.
A great trail; gentle grade, nice surface. Mile markers and benches. For much of this section you have nice views of the river, at least before the trees leaf out, and you are away from roads and buildings.
Note I said views of the river: the trail meanders delightfully along the valley but far, far above the river, and not only would it be a steep scramble to get down to it, most of the trail is private land on both sides and signs request one to be polite and not trespass. If you want to dangle your toes in the river ride north on the public road from the Basin parking area toward the dam and lake; looking down from the trail (which, even at that point, rapidly becomes elevated) there appear to be quite a few places to pull over right next to the banks.
Map notes: As of this writing the map on this site shows the trail open north from the Basin parking area all the way to Auburn/Market Street. This is incorrect: heading north the trail dead-ends at a river bridge at the 6 mile marker. No idea if you can start at Auburn and ride south to the other end of the bridge, but you cannot legally cross the long, high, unrenovated bridge.
Also not shown on the map: the trail IS open south of the Basin parking area to downtown Hamburg proper, so you could add a couple of miles by starting/ending in downtown Hamburg.
Description note: The trail description mentions buying penny candy in Port Clinton. Unless you are gnarly mountain biker able to carry your bike down/up steep grades this would involve leaving your bike, scrambling down a precipitous section of the AT hiking trail (perhaps 40-50 feet of vertical drop, and did I mention it was steep), and hiking a short way into town, and then climbing back up. I'd plan on visiting the store before or after by car, especially if you have smaller kids with you.
Have done the landingville stretch and love it. Lots of birds to see even at this time of year. Can't wait til spring when the birds start coming back. Found a great new walking spot.
My family and I checked out this trail for the first time yesterday. With blue sky, cool temps. and some color still on the trees, we enjoyed a great ride. With fallen leaves, running down the trail with us in the breeze, it was quite magical! We started from the trail head in Hamburg, went out about 6 miles and then back again. We found the trail that we traveled on to be in great condition, smooth, and well marked. We passed a few other bikers and walkers enjoying the trail too. Our only caution about this trail is that it is not one for young children to bike on as the drop off is quite steep in some areas and there are no fences.
Today I rode the Bartram Trail from the Hamburg trailhead to the Auburn Bridge and back. A bit cool and mostly cloudy but a great ride. I was expecting washed out areas due to all the recent rain but the trail is in excellent condition for this entire 6 mile section. A bit bumpy under the Rt. 61 bridge but that's it. Lots of areas/benches to stop and take a rest if you need it. I'm looking forward to returning with the entire family later this spring or early in the summer - it will be gorgeous. I am hoping there are plans to make the bridge at Auburn passable - this is a great ride!
We just road this section of trail on monday December 20 2010 it was 25 degrees outside and we still had a great time on this trail. It is a lovely well maintaned trail that is 6 miles long ( We started at Hamburg ) and stops at a unfinished bridge before Auburn. There is no way to get to Auburn until they finish the trail on the closed railroad bridge, you can however get to Port Clinton. Just pass the Port Clinton rail station you have to make a right onto another trail that goes down a steep hill, cross a bridge and into town. This trail is well worth the ride and with all the flowering bushes is probably lovely in the summer.
I have found so many different descriptions of this trail. They have all varied in how long it is and where the trailheads are, so I decided to go up and find out for myself. I live in South Jersey so it took me about 2 hrs. to get there.
I figured I would make it an out and back trip, so I parked at the Hamburg trailhead. This trail does not go all the way to Auburn. It is exactly a 6 mile trip to the closed RR bridge crossing the river. It is gated off with a couple benches and a picnic bench. Nice spot to stop for a snack.
There is no access to the river from this trail, nor is there a way to get across the river to visit this Port Clinton. I don't understand what trail all these sites are describing but it sure isn't this one.
Ok, an honest review of this lovely little trail. It is beautifully maintained. Great scenery the entire length. I met nothing but friendly people, everyone was courteous and followed all the traffic rules. I saw bikers(young and old), horses, hikers, dogwalkers, even a 2 person surrey, who had a rear view mirror and saw I wanted to pass even before I politely dinged my bike bell!
There were easy to read signs for mileage and interesting info along the whole trail. I highly recommend this out and back trail, which is a total of 12 miles to anyone. Pretty and well maintained for the more experienced bikers and weekend warriors alike! :)
I have walked, jogged, and biked this trail and could not wait to cross country ski it. I got my chance twice in February, 2010. The first was after about 7 inches of fresh snow, 4 miles up and back, absolutely heavenly, had the trail virtually to myself on a Sunday afternoon once past the railroad station. I had to wait for my second ski run another 2 weeks until the second 16" of snow was melted enough to make the Hamburg lot remotely passable. I noticed most people parked at the RV or Toyota lots at the Hamburg end after the second snowfall as the access roads & lot were incredibly messy and barely passable days after the snow. I skiid all 6 miles of the trail the second time on a warm day and on very soft snow. Again, beautiful scenery and had the trail absolutely to myself at the upper end. Can't wait for the Auburn bridge to be completed. A big downside to skiing the trail is that neither the Hamburg or Auburn access roads and lots are plowed at all in winter. My sister got seriously stuck in the Hamburg lot (with a 4WD) on an attempt she made a week after the second snowfall. Also would like signs posted on the trail for dog walkers to clean up after their animals. Will try to ski or run the portion above Auburn and post pictures of this end.
Took a ride on our bikes from Hamburg to about a mile past Port Clinton today. Even though it was sunny, 68 degrees, in November, it was not very busy. Beautiful trail and experience. Very clean too. We will be back soon.
This trail is by far one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Each day I have trouble deciding if I should walk with the dog, jog or ride my bike.
We biked this trail on July 19, 2009 for the first time. It is great for beginners and for a leisurely ride. Beautiful scenery the entire way and the fellow bikers and trekers are also pleasant and friendly. The trail is also litter free and well maintained. Will definatly be back and hope that the trail is connected together soon!!!
2 Bikers from Kunkletown
My husband and I rode this trail on July3, 2009. It was a beautiful day and the trail was gorgeous.
The wild Rhododendron was all in bloom. There where also many other wild flowers blooming.
The old steam locomotive at Port Clinton train station was running and blowing its whistle. It brought back childhood memories for my husband.
We saw some hikers doing the Appalachian Trail and a number of families also biking. There where kayaks on the Schuylkill River as well. What a beautiful place to ride. We're new bikers and are enjoying the rail to trails.
We can't wait until the bridge is completed at the Auburn end so that we can continue on to see more of this beautiful area.
Donna Reinhart 7/5/09
Easy access to the trailhead. Path is pretty flat, very well maintained and easy to navigate. Not too crowded, even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Can only do about half of this trail before reaching a trestle that hasn't yet been converted. Nice signs along the way that tell a lot about the railroad, development of the trail, and towns surrounding the trail. Nice family trail.
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