Stony Valley Railroad Grade


62 Reviews

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Stony Valley Railroad Grade Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Dauphin, Lebanon, Schuylkill
Length: 19.7 miles
Trail end points: Ellendale Road, 1.5 miles east of Snyder Lane (Dauphin) and Lebanon Reservoir near Old Forge Road, 1.0 mile north of Oak Grove Road (Pine Grove)
Trail surfaces: Dirt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017065

Stony Valley Railroad Grade Description

Note: During hunting season, Pennsylvania Game Lands Regulations require ALL non-hunters present on game lands between November 15 and December 15 (excluding Sundays) to wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, or, in lieu thereof, a hat of the same colored material. Orange material must be visible 360 degrees.

Bicycling is prohibited on in game lands from the last Saturday in September to the third Saturday in January during spring turkey season. Check the PA Game Commission website before you embark and heed the signs posted on the trail to avoid citations.

Tucked into the Appalachian Ridge and Valley region, the Stony Valley Railroad Grade makes tracks through a state game land for nearly 20 miles past vanished coal boomtowns and tourist resorts. There are no services, but there is plenty of quietude for those who enjoy a forested reprieve from hustle and bustle. A fairly rustic rail-trail, the Stony Valley Railroad grade is best suited for hikers and mountain bikers.

Originally named St. Anthony’s Wilderness by Moravian missionaries who arrived in the 1740s to convert the local American Indians, the Stony Creek Valley was a big draw for lumbering and coal mining companies in the 1820s due to its abundant natural resources. The Dauphin & Susquehanna Railroad entered the region in 1854 to haul coal to larger railroads, and it subsequently became the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad in 1859, and then part of the Philadelphia & Reading Rail Road in 1872. The Reading pulled the plug on the money-losing line in 1939 after a bridge burned down.

The state game commission acquired the 44,000 acres in 1945 and later transformed the railroad corridor into a restricted road through State Game Land No. 211. Hunters come here for deer, squirrels, grouse, and turkeys. The route is closed to nonhunting bicyclists and equestrians in hunting season (the last Saturday in September through the third Saturday in January, and before 1 p.m. from the second Saturday in April through the last Saturday in May). Visitors must wear an orange vest during those periods. It is open one day a year to vehicles between the Ellendale Road and Gold Mine Road trailheads. The route can be susceptible to ravages of extreme weather, so be prepared for potholes and washouts.

Starting from the western trailhead, you’ll experience a slight but steady grade for 13.0 miles, and then a downhill journey for the remainder of the route. You’ll cross a bridge at 5.7 miles over Rattling Run, which shares its name with an old coal mining town up the hill. At 9 miles, a footpath on the right heads uphill to a deteriorating stone tower.

The Coldspring Road parking area at 11.2 miles marks the approximate location of a former 200-room tourist resort where visitors once soaked in spring waters. It was swept away by fire in 1900. About 2 miles later, the Appalachian Trail crosses the old railroad grade at 13.5 miles, also the site of the ghost town of Rausch Gap. Stone foundations, as well as a cemetery with a few headstones dating to the 1850s, are visible in the forest here.

The trail passes the Gold Mine Road trailhead in about 17.3 miles and then ends another 2.4 miles ahead, where it overlooks Lebanon Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to the town of Lebanon.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the western endpoint on Ellendale Road from I-81, take Exit 67B, and merge onto US  22 W/US 322 W. Go 5.4 miles, and exit to Dauphin Borough/Stony Creek onto Allegheny St. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto Schuylkill St. Then go 250 feet, and turn right onto Erie St. Go 0.1 mile, and turn left onto Stony Creek Road. Go 4.9 miles, and Stony Creek Road becomes Ellendale Road at a traffic circle. Go 2.0 miles, and look for trailhead parking straight ahead at the gate.

To reach the Gold Mine Road trailhead from I-81, take Exit 100, and head west onto SR 443/Suedberg Road. Go 6.1 miles, and turn right onto Gold Mine Road. Go 2.8 miles, and look for trailhead parking on your right. The endpoint is located 2.4 miles farther east along the trail at the Lebanon Reservoir.

There are several parking options along the trailhead, see TrailLink Map for more information.

Stony Valley Railroad Grade Reviews

Never Again

Starting at the East/Lebanon end we walked to Rausch Creek and along the AT for a bit. Round trip was only about 8 miles and the only pleasant part was the AT. The trail is newly covered with large stones and the camber is extreme. The size of the rocks would make for an uncomfortable bike ride, too. We were both pretty miserable by the end. I gave it an extra star for the shade.

I agree about the size of gravel making this not suitable for biking. We turned back. May be nice for a hike.

I agree about the size of gravel making this not suitable for biking. We turned back. May be nice for a hike.

Mud, bugs, big trees down and wash out city

Zero cell signal Lots and lots of bugs No bathrooms anywhere Lots of mud Trees down everywhere If the trail isn’t mud it is super soft stone with a huge crown in the middle of the trail.

great ride!

Started at west end, rode 11 miles out and back! Loved it. Yea there’s some “rough” areas but nothing to complain about… you’re in the mountains! Very quiet and peaceful, only saw a pair of hikers and later a couple riding their bikes…all in 2-1/2 hours. Came across some deer too! Not a trail for road riders but highly recommend.


so disappointing

The size of gravel used to line the trail is to harsh for bicycling. I had to turn back because of the roughness. Awesome views though

Trail has Potential

We went out Saturday to explore this trail. While it is quiet and fairly secluded, it is rough. Plenty of segments are gravel—difficult to maneuver; the dirt segments are fine. Biked out 6 miles and turned around—just not fun. Mountain bikers would enjoy it more. No restrooms.

A Trail with Potential…

Went out Saturday to explore the Stony Creek Trail. While it offers a quiet, scenic experience, the trail is rough—frequent sections of gravel are difficult to maneuver. The dirt sections are fine. Traveled 6 miles out from trailhead and turned around. No restrooms.

Went back to check it out

As I said in the previous review I would come back and check the trail out to see if the construction is done. And it was. The parking area was clear of piles of stone and graded. The trail had also been graded so a lot smoother with few exceptions. I did not make it to the bridge to see what was beyond but I will come back because it is such a peaceful ride.

Still a great trail but beware

I have not been on this trail for a while. When I got to the parking area from Dauphin there were big piles of different grades of road material. In talking with someone he heard they were repairing a bridge about 6 miles in. Due to the heavy equipment using the trail it was a bit bumpy in places. When I got to the bridge I could see they were actually repairing the road beyond. I rode in about 1/2 mile but there was loose stone everywhere and the ride was extremely bumpy even with front shocks so I turned around. I remember riding for 15 miles before and the road was pretty smooth. It is still a very nice and quiet ride that is why I gave it 5 stars. In a couple of years the trail should be a lot smoother, at least I hope. And I will keep going back to check it out.

A Secluded Experience

This is one of the most secluded rides in a pristine natural setting I have been on in PA. Absolutely quiet with no crowds or traffic to contend with. Rode a couple weeks after tropical storm Ida came through. There was a great deal of flood erosion damage at the Rausch Creek bridge (Appalachian Trail crossing). Considering this, the entire tail bed was in surprising good condition. No standing water anywhere and very few flies or mosquitoes. Only encountered a couple washouts over its entire length. These were easily navigated around though with little effort. The trail is indeed a little rougher at the western Ellendale end but it was evident that many repairs were recently done. Only a matter of time where these coarse gravel fill-ins will eventually smooth out. Used a hard tail hybrid with 29” x 2.25” knobby tires filled to 50#. Ride tolerable for 90% of the time although I did tire of the coarser stone sections at the conclusion of my ride. Due to its isolation and cellphone signal dead zone, I recommend starting at The Coldspring Road access. Although a very steep dirt road, Coldspring Road is in very good condition and accessible to most cars. I highly recommend this as the ultimate “get away from it all” ride.

secluded but rough

Started on the south end and rode north. The good, the bad, and the ugly: Good - very shaded the entire trail, peaceful, and very quiet with only the sounds of nature. I started on the south end and the trail inclines from there at a moderate rate. If you like seclusion, this is definitely a great ride as the trail goes through the State game lands. The Bad: If you are looking for a nice smooth trail like most of the rail trails with a smooth cinder base, this is not the trail for you. It’s bumpy with lots of shale, dirt, and muddy in places. It’s more of a mountain road than a typical rail trail. The Ugly: granted it rained the day before but the mosquitoes will eat you alive if you stop. There is a lot of standing water on either side of the trail in places and you need to keep moving to keep the bugs from having you for lunch

Buggy... bring your repellant

The bugs ate us for breakfast!

beware of rattle snakes

The trail is nice and beautiful but I ran over a rattle snake. It was scary

Awesome trail, very secluded, no cell service

Rode this trail today, 42.02 miles in total out to the reservoir and back. Parked at the Ellendale trailhead, fits about 4 or 5 cars. If you continue up the dirt road about 1 mile, there is a bigger trail head that fits a whole lot more cars and is the actual start of the trail.

Couldn't decide whether to bring my mountain bike or gravel bike, decided to go with my gravel bike. If you are a recreational rider, and used to well maintained rail trails on hybrids or road bikes, this probably isn't the place for you. I got by just fine on my gravel bike, but the surface changes ALOT. Hardpack, fine gravel, cinder, bigger gravel, and big rocks randomly. Be prepared to slow down if you are bombing down the trail. Also, there were a few trees down in the middle of the trail, and countless branches all over. Also lots of ruts. You will be just fine if you take it slow.

If you really want to bomb down this thing at a fast pace, I recommend a plus tire mountain bike, with at least a front suspension fork, tubeless tires of course to help soften the ride. It's very rough, especially at the Ellendale end.

All in all, I will definitely ride this trail again, and most likely bring my MTB next time. It's secluded, serene, peaceful, and the scenery is beautiful. I rode almost 4 hours starting at 7am and saw next to no one on this trail. If you need to get away from people for a while, this is your place.

Also, please be prepared and bring hydration, tools, spare tube, tire levers, etc, and know how to work on your bike. Wouldn't want to get caught 20 miles from your car here with a broken bike.

Nice trail, hard to get to

This trail is good for running, hiking, and casual mountain biking but is not as well maintained as some other trails. It was a little difficult to get to the trail as it’s off a gravel road and very isolated. The trail surface, while generally good, can be inconsistent. Watch out for snakes! We saw quite a large rattler, that luckily minded his own business.

One of the most beautiful trails ever

Seriously, I think of PA as God's model for Heaven. And this trail may be the most beautiful part of heaven. I couldn't stop raving about it in my head for the first 11 miles or so, and then only stopped because I was beginning to realize what I was in for. It's a 25 mile trail, and a 50 mile out-and-back was more than I was really ready for. Thank goodness I turned around at the parking area at mile 17. The last 5 miles of the 34 total was all will, no skill. But even then I was in awe of the beauty. I camped in one of the camping cottages at Cowan's Gap, and it made for a beautiful weekend. I highly recommend it!

Great Trail But Be Prepared

We just moved to the area and live a half hour from the trail head so I wanted to give it a go. July was the 4th wettest month in recorded history for the area so factor that into some of my comments.


I am an RT member and recently received the 2018 version of the Rail-Trails Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York Guidebook. Please ignore the directions in the book unless you are giving them to someone you dislike very much. Here is how to find it: After you get off Interstate 81 at exit 100 make a left to the traffic light. It is marked route 72. Turn left and continue on 72 until it intersects with route 443. Veer to the right onto 443 and continue on 443 until you reach Gold Mine Road on the left (it is like 9 miles or so to the turnoff). There is a wooden PA sign for Swatara Creek RT & Park directly to the right. Once you are on Gold Mine Road continue over the top of the first mountain (there are two!!). As you descend the mountain (I want to say about half way down) there is a gravel road on the left and a PA State Game Sign just past the gravel road (right now weeds almost have it obscured (see my picture, if RT allows it to be posted. Drive back that road. You will see on the right an extensive pile of macadam road that has been taken up and dumped there. Past it you will find the trail head, although there is no sign noting that this is Stony Valley RT. You have made it there!

I did my ride this morning after the very rainy July. There are significant wash outs some as deep as a foot and as long as 30-40 yards. There was a tree across the trail (which they will remove) that required some nifty maneuvering to get around since the trail is elevated at this point. The trail is VERY FLAT and CANOPIED its entire length. As a result there were a lot of puddles in the trail and in some cases extended puddles a 1/20th of a mile or so where the water was over the top of my rims with a rocky and muddy bottom. There were many soft spots causing some sliding and skidding. There were a lot of branches on the trail and they have been there for some time. I jumped a number of them and some were rotten and paths ridden through them. All-in-all the trail is very rough but very beautiful. On my way back to the car there was a porcupine on the trail and all he did was bury his head and extend his quills without moving an inch from the center of the trail. Since it is canopied its entire length I do not recommend sun glasses. I wore mine and it was very hard to see some of the debris, water and washouts on the trail.

The trail book says it is 21 miles long. I rode 17 miles between the two trail heads noted in the book. I started to ride the dirt road past the trail head and it was laden with mega potholes and since I wasn't even sure I was on the right trail I turned around. Next time I will continue along the access road and report of what I find.

I have read some of the reviews and one noted that doing this trail on a road bike can be fun and successful. I strongly suggest that you disregard that review. I have a full suspension mountain bike and I needed every bit of it. I spent more than my share of time out of the saddle and found myself slipping, sliding, bouncing and jumping the entire length of the trail between the trail heads. I would never even try this on a hybrid or gravel bike even if it is dried out let alone a road bike. It is a very bumpy someone else wrote, rough.

As noted, cell phone coverage is non-existent. I recommend either riding with someone or certainly wearing a RoadID so you have some help if something happens.

The context for the reviewer is important for understanding the review. I do 10-15 century rides a year on my road bike and ride my mountain bike many times a week a minimum of 35-40 miles. I travel all over the country with my bikes doing centuries, trails and single track. This is a less traveled trail that is quite spectacular but be prepared when you ride it.

A nice change of pace. Great Duel Sport Bike Ride.

Personally one of my favorite Trails I’ve ridden. You won’t rip through this trail. A little ruff in some parts of Trail. Slow down a bit and you will be fine. I would not bring a high dollar road bike on this one. Oh and No Cell Service! My Favorite Part! Enjoy

A little peace & quiet

I have biked, walked and xc-skied this trail many times in all seasons in all weather. yes, the Dauphin/Ellendale end is a bit rough but it offers some solitude and shady peace and quiet only a few miles from what has become the major trucking and warehouse hub of the northeast. Its 10 degrees cooler than the city and very quiet. Because of the shade and elevation, it stays snow covered and wet after surrounding areas have warmed up on the spring.The Stoneycreek is a great little trout stream if you're willing to slow down and be patient, and there are lots of quiet little spots to cool your feet on hot days. This place is a gem of wilderness surrounded by a noisy, busy world. Enjoy !

Rough but rideable

We were concerned that we might have trouble riding this trail with a hybrid and a street bike, so today we started at the western end and walked a few miles to check it out. It was a rougher trail than the typical rail-trail we're used to, but very rideable. Though most riders we saw were on mountain bikes or hybrids, we saw several people on street bikes and talked to a couple of them who said they had ridden the trail without trouble. The street bike riders were traveling more slowly than others, no doubt to avoid some significant pot holes and sharp rocks, but all of these were avoidable to anyone not racing on the trail.

Based on other reviews we were surprised to arrive at the trailhead at the same time as four other cars (there were 12 cars there altogether), but once we got onto the trail we only saw people a couple of times. It was very quiet (no traffic noise--a rarity) and very shaded; pleasant on a hot day. Next time we'll ride and I'll update my review if necessary.

The gravel road that leads to the Ellendale trailhead seemed long since we weren't familiar with it, but it ends at a large parking area at the trailhead, so you can't miss the trail. There are no port-a-johns or other conveniences there. That, and the roughness of the trail, led me to give it three stars at this point. If you like such trails or have a mountain bike, you might say it deserves more.


Rode an out & back yesterday (9/21/16) 30 miles (15/15). The trail is in good shape with few potholes and rough spots. Be watchful for fallen branches on the trail. The trail is tree-covered with Hemlock and hardwoods with fern and occasional rhododendron undergrowth. The trail is in PA State Game Lands so quite isolated. It provided wonderful solitude with few distractions--a delightful ride. If in the area, definitely do it. However, dont drive a long distance just to ride it. Driving directions are valid.

Wilderness ride

Rode Dauphin County end of this trail in the evening. I was alone and enjoyed the solitude. Timing the ride to end at dusk. Fortunately, I didn't get a flat or anything to delay my return to the parking area. I didn't pass a soul on the 20 miles I rode and I was thinking that getting stuck out there after dark might be a bit dangerous.
I would recommend riding the trail in the morning. Be prepared for the elements as you would on any wilderness adventure.
Overall, the trail was 90% canopied on the west end making it a shady ride.

Mountain Lion Sighting

We were hiking from the Harrisburg, Dauphin County end this morning and were on our way back after about 5 miles when I spotted the head and shoulders of a large cat-like animal poking out of the brush on the south side of the trail, attempting to cross the trail. It turned it's face towards me and it was identifiable as a mountain lion. It retreated but my husband and I caught up and got a long look at the animal standing and staring back at us about 25 feet back on the forest floor. We realized there might be a danger, so we continued on with our hike. Two men bicycling came from behind on the trail and we began to tell the story of the mountain lion. My husband turned to point to the location behind us when the lion once again poked his head out, and then very slowly walked across the trail, then turned northeast and walked away from us to find a good spot to jump up the rocks to the other side of the trail. Our jaws collectively dropped. There was no doubt from the large size, color, long tail, facial features that this was a mountain lion. We didn't have our phones because cell reception is limited. When we got back to the trail head we looked it up and the message was mixed. The internet said there were no more Eastern Mountain Lions. U Tube showed videos of sightings as close as Bucks County. Later we talked to our daughter who works at RoundTop Mountain Resort in York County. They have seen mountain lions there. So please share if you have seen this lion before on your hike/rides.

Not Worth the Trip

My wife and I drove up from VA to ride this trail. The surface is little better than a gravel road and the scenery is a bit boring. Very disappointing.

Overcast Saturday

We started out at the Gold Mine Road parking lot. We rode to Ellendale. I would recommend this trail to at least an intermediate rider or better. Also if I do this trail again I would ride from the Ellendale parking area. On our way back to our vehicle we realized even though it's an old railroad grade going back was uphill for at least the next 12 miles. Because it's a wilderness area the condition of the road varies. I have a hybrid and managed but would have preferred a mountain bike. In the 34+ miles we traveled we only passed 5 people. Overall it's a great outdoor experience and I do want to go back. The only sound other than mortar fire from the Gap was the babbling brook.

Hiked This Trail Many Times

Hiking Stoney Creek R.R. bed, Stony Mountain, from Ellendale to the Gold Mine Cable has given me many unforgettable memories. Would park at Ellendale Cable, hike to the Tank Path, up to the top of Stony Mt. and out the old Stage Coach Road down into Stony Creek and on out to Camp Shan, Cold Spring, Gold Mine Trail. One thing in this photo array is the one titled, "Old Trail Markers?"..Thowe twin cement structures are actually old supports for the rails used for repairs when there wa actually a train running through the valley.

It's all in your Expectations

We rode this trail this past Saturday; it's been very dry so the ground was firm (dirt and crushed gravel). We traveled from the southwest entry point about 5 miles up and back. The grade is gentle and the trail is straight. It's the width of a car with almost no obstacles so you can ride side-by-side if you wish. It's fully shaded so it's a good choice for summer. If you prefer the paved trails then this one is not for you; not for road bikes. It's a good trail for kids too since there are some side trails that lead to the creek that you can walk down and explore (helps break things up for the younger ones).
Have Fun!

Poorly marked

Had trouble locating supposed parking lot. Ended up driving up the mountain and encountered a logging truck coming down. When I found a place to turn around, encountered another one coming up and was forced to back up the mile that I had come down until I reached a spot I could pull off.

fun but challenging trail

This trail was fun but definitely challenging. The rocks and soggy terrain made it difficult but we love a good challenge!!

Wonderful and Rugged

I see a lot of hate in some of these reviews, but as of May, 2015 I did not find any potholes or problems on the west end of the trail. We rode about 10 miles in and back out again. Very beautiful vistas, and the Stoney Creek itself is lovely. The terrain is a bit more challenging than some more popular trails in the area, and I would not reccomend it for road bikes. Perfect for hybrids and MTB, however.

Does anyone run on this trail??

I'm looking for a nearby place to run without traffic and far enough to get in my long runs

Could be one of the best

I have ridden this trail for many years--had a few accidents on it--mostly my fault. But the last time I rode this crappy trail, I had my worst fall 3 mi. from the west parking lot. Big hole in knee, bleeding profusely--with no broken bones I was able to pedal back to car. Spotty cell connection in this rural area. Spent about a week in hosp. with infectious hematoma. Bottom line: my fault because I was riding with too much air pressure in tires and shouldn't have ridden this crappy trailin its condition--hit a slippery rock and went down, even though I wasn't traveling more than about 9 miles an hour due to the jackhammer terrain. On the day of my accident (8/14/2014) there was work being done on the trail, but I'm not optimistic about improvement. The first 11.5 miles of this trail from the west parking lot traveling east are horrible; the last 7.5 (approx.) in Lebanon County are fine. Maybe someone will provide an update if things improve. Beautiful scenery, but don't use a bike with narrow tires, and keep your tire pressure lower (35-45 pounds). See tire rating on the sidewall of your tire.

The two-mile dirt road from the west parking lot to the paved road are filled with deep pot holes, and can damage your vehicle if you go faster than 4 miles an hour. With enough improvement, this could be one of the best trails in PA. Just beware of the negatives.

Two Bears - No park rangers

Rode this trail Oct 5th after some heavy rains during the night.

I drove to the parking area on Gold Mine road at about 10AM. I was surprised to see the sign about the unexploded ordnance. But then I remembered someone mentioning this in another review. It was cool ~54 degrees, so I dressed appropriately - with tights and a jacket. I saw two bow hunters about ½ mile up the trail – I also noticed a biker was riding ahead of me. I hoped to catch up to him/her. I saw the bike parked at the Appalachian trail, parked without a rider about 3.5 miles from the parking lot. The rest of the way and back – I saw no one except a hiker about ½ mile from the parking lot at the east end of the trail. It was pretty bumpy and my arms were getting sore from the heavy vibration. So I let out some air out of my tires after about 10 miles. That helped the vibration significantly.

The sun was starting to come out and it was a very nice ride. After 19.7 miles I was at the end of the trail on the east side at a paved cul-de-sac. I looked around for some more trail, but couldn’t find any. So, I immediately turned around and headed back. The first two miles on that side are along an access road. You need not ride this, since the trail head is beyond the cul-de-sac up the dirt road for two miles. The road is privately maintained and has some houses. A construction company was adding new drainage pipes.

Along the way back I thought I saw two black bears. The first was about 2 miles from the west end parking lot, and the other was about 6. I tried to video the second, but it vanished. Riding back was interesting. I rode and rode and rode- and saw no one. It was almost spooky because it was Saturday, and I’m used to the C&O canal being packed with people. The clouds were starting to build up and it was getting windy and cold. I looked for other bike tracks – but only saw the ones I’d left earlier going the other way. I forced myself to keep going. I can see how this trail could get boring to some…..But I love the NE forest – so I was in heaven. Finally after about 15 miles and with only about 3 miles left, I saw two Appalachian Trail hikers stopping at the Rauch creek limestone filtration well. During these last three miles, I saw two bikers (with bows) and two other bow hunters walking.
I finished the ride about 2:30 pm. 38.7 miles average speed 10.3mph. some ballast rock here and there, but very nice and drains better than the C&O!

wild and wonderful - if you like this ride north bend rail trail in WVA too!

I agree.Where is it?

I spent 2 days on the beautiful Swatara Trail that has been massively improved.Wanted to try the Stony Creek but looks like the hunters don't want to share.Huge rocks at entrances to wherever there may be access.How about making a compromise for bikers from March to October?

Where is it?

I spent four hours on a Saturday trying to find an access point for this trail. Really wanted to ride it, but where is it? ;)

A Dangerous Trail (To you, Dauphin County)

My brother and I just completed the entire Stony Creek Rail Trail yesterday from end to end and back again (approximately 39.7 miles). We began from the Dauphin County end and traveled East towards the Lebanon City Reservoir. This first six miles of trail is atrocious. After crossing the Lebanon County Marker at about 8.5 miles the trail becomes more respectable and nice to ride with occasional ruts, rocks and brief periods of roughness.
However, the Dauphin end has been VANDALIZED by the county game commission. They have dumped long sections of ballast rock and substrate material incompatible for bicycles. Not only is this nearly impossible to ride through, but these giant 4-5" diameter rocks can throw you off your bike. We had to get off and walk long sections. A grader went through which basically tipped out and upturned hundreds of rocks leaving behind holes ranging from a couple of inches to many that were 10" + deep. I seen holes that could severely hurt riders and especially considering kids are riding this mine field. Really, how many neurons does it require to figure out that the surface needs to be rolled flat after digging out the rocks?
Dauphin County, you should be ashamed of your incompetency to properly maintain your portion of the rail trail. But after all, I believe this destruction was purposefully done to discourage riders. We know that the Dauphin County game commission loves to harass bikers and simply don't want us there. I suppose this is their way of letting us know we are not welcome. I happen to have a very nice bike with front suspension that generally cruises over rough terrain, but this was crazy. The transition of trail when crossing the Dauphin/Lebanon county line is reminiscent of how road surfaces abruptly change when crossing back into Pennsylvania from out of state.
Also, the entrance road to the Dauphin County parking area was ridiculous! There were many holes and whoop-d-doos that were nearly large enough to swallow a car. The Lebanon side had nice parking lots and access points.
My advice is to avoid the Dauphin side of the trail. We know the city of Harrisburg along with Dauphin County is bankrupt and has placed Stony Creek Rail Trail off their list of concerns for public recreation. As a final plea Dauphin County, if you don't know how to maintain the trail please just leave it alone. I would much rather ride through washed out sections of trail than the intentional damage caused by your obvious incompetence. Finally, to the individual(s) directly responsible for the upkeep of the Dauphin County trail, YOU SUCK!

Stony for a reason

Nice ride, plenty of shade and not crowded!

Rough trail

This trail would probably be great for mountain biking, but it was rougher than we like for our hybrids. We had to pay so much attention to the rocks and holes in the trail that it was hard to enjoy the scenery. We made it about six miles in and then one of my husband's pedals fell off. Since we didn't have the tools needed to fix it on the trail, we had to turn around (and he had to ride with only one pedal back to the car). The "road" to the trail is also very rough with large potholes.'s pretty but better suited to mountain bikes.

Stony Valley Rail Trail

Loved it. We did a counter-clockwise loop which started on Gold Mine Road, passed through the once-upon-a-time village of Rausch Gap, and finished by coming back on the rail trail. Beautiful surroundings.

Though there was a little more excitement then we needed
when we decided to go see the nearby Boxcar Rocks. Watch out for the PA Game Commission Conservation Officers. On 21 September 2013, I was walking back
with two other hikers from the Boxcar Rocks and we were detained for questioning by a PA DCNR Conservation Officer. The officer blocked the road with his PA state owned vehicle, stepped out of his vehicle blocking our route around the vehicle. When I started to go around him he gave me the impression it would be in my best interest not to. He then preceded to question us on what cars we were driving, whether we were doing anything we should not be doing, whether we had seen anybody else, and what the other people were doing in the area. When he was satisfied, the DCNR officer got back in his vehicle and drove off in search of other people to detain for questioning. I am 58 years old and this is the first time I have been illegally detained for questioning by anyone. I will not be going back to Pennsylvania for any hiking for a long time. Which seeing as I am 58 years old will not be much of a loss for the state of Pennsylvania.

Beware, you have been warned!

great peaceful ride

I did this ride a few years back from goldmine east to the reservoir and the ride was smooth with great scenery and the view at the reservoir is amazing. I then made the trek west toward dauphin out to Rausch Creek which was a little rougher but not too bad but on my way back to the car I made a detour down to the ruins at Coldspring. I'd like to try the entire trail next time but I also wonder how you can get down to Coldspring without taking the rail bed. I passed tons of cars driving down to coldspring but I have no idea how they got there. If anyone has any advice please let me know, last time I took car out there I was greeted by military personnel. 0__0

better than ever/ for those who don't like crowds

Trail surface is absolutely fine for a hybrid these days--big improvements seem to have made recently; did it in a heavy rain yesterday and only problem was mosquito attacks when any kind of a break was contemplated. To turn this into a loop back to Harrisburg makes for a terrific and diverse (and long) day, actually made much easier if not on a mt. bike. But always better than doubling back over 20+ miles.

Deep woods tranquility -- but consider a mountain bike!

This is a beautiful wooded rail bed cutting through Appalachian back country. A great opportunity to observe wildlife. However, be prepared -- we learned this is not your 'normal' Rails-To-Trails experience, in that there is very little signage at the trail head, no mile markers, and infrequent trail maintenance.

Traveling west from the trail head, the first mile and a half features packed gravel, good drainage, and width to accommodate three cyclists comfortably. However, this deteriorates to a narrower track, heavier and sometimes loose gravel with stony patches and plenty of branches down on the trail to dodge.

The trail is on Pennsylvania game lands, with hunters in evidence, please be sure to wear bright clothing.

We observed three large long-eared owls (not great horned), deer, and plenty of small game.

We traveled roughly 10 miles in and returned, and met no other cyclists or hikers on a mild summer weekday -- only a lone hunter with bird dogs at the trail head.


I did this trail on Saturday of Memorial Day week end, it was in the med to high 70s and it was sunny on my trip form West to East and partly cloudy on my trip back. There are two things you will not need, Sunglasses and Sun Screen as you run though a thick Forest the entire trip but you will need bug spray. this is a very nice trail that just dose not get much use as I only ran into about ten bikers and about the same amount of hikers on my 42 mile round trip. This is a very remote trail and there is no food, no water or rest rooms from end to end. In the entire length there is only one cross road. I did it on a very old Mt Bike with a Town and Country Tire but you could do it on a Hybrid., I would not do it on a Road Bike. I am not sure that this is a family friendly trail. If I did do a family trip I would do it from the East Trail head and down to Rausch Gap. I will close by saying I had a great ride and would do this again.

Stony Valley Railroad Grade June 19, 2011

Spent the morning riding from End to End - and back. Quiet - guess fathers day kept the crowd down.

Evidence of many trees down (removed) over the past couple of months - Winds from fierce storms this spring.

A couple areas of wash-outs have been repaired.

This trail is a Game Lands Maintenance Road and receives minimal maintenance. Normally they use stone - sometimes large - and no compaction. The smooth surface expected on most Rail-Trails isn't going to be found.

Miles from anywhere - NO CELL PHONE Service.

Take a few minutes to check out the 'food plots', stream, and 'diversion wells'. The drainage from abandoned coal mines is treated in part by the diversion well. This allows acid sensitive trout to survive.

Nice Trail, Bring Your Mountain Bike

This is a picturesque trail with excellent scenery... but I would not ride it with my hybrid, only my mountain bike. Much of the trail would be hybrid-friendly, but there are enough rough patches to make it a mountain bike-only path in my estimation.

I ride in early June 2011, starting at the parking area on the west of Goldmine Road and then riding four miles west (about half a mile past the Rausch Gap Bridge). Last year (2010), I rode the section to the east of Goldmine Road, also a nice ride -- and, if memory serves, more hybrid-friendly.

I look forward to riding the entire length of the trail this year!

Very wooded trail, bumpy at times

The eastern trailhead is easy to find from the south, but is 3, not 4 miles in on Goldmine Rd according to my odometer. Lots of parking is available on the left side if you drive in past the State Gamelands sign. We rode east to the reservoir and back to the trailhead first, which was beautifully wooded, had a stream visible from the trail at times, and a relatively smooth surface. Riding west from the trailhead had more variation in the surface. It started out bumpy with larger gravel around areas where drainage pipes had been installed and then altenated from nice fine grit with a smooth ride to areas with larger stone which were rather bumpy. We got to see some deer, and enjoyed walking through the woods, finding some neat fungi. Will probably do the short stretch to the reservoir again, but don't know if we'll be back for longer rides westward because of the rough surfaces, plus we have many more R2T to check out!

Not for Street Tires!

I started on the east end of the trail off of Gold Mine Road. The ride is a little rough with slight errosion and a few minor wash outs. The trail path in many areas does not feel like a rail to trail conversion but rather a rough vehicle access road to the State Game Lands. If you have a full suspention mountain bike it is a nice ride. I rode about 2.1 miles up to the Rausch Gap were there was once a mining railroad village. Little remains but nearby there is a cemetary with three grave markers. Lot's of wildlife can be seen on this realatively straight trail. I rode ten miles in and back and did not come across any other humans.

Gamelands Tour will affect trail Oct. 19, 2008.

Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., State Game Land 211, which encompasses more than 44,000 acres in a three-county area. The tour will start at the Ellendale gate in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County, just northeast of Dauphin Borough. The 19-mile trip will be made along an abandoned railroad bed, and will end at Goldmine Road, southwest of Tower City, Schuylkill County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat improvement projects.

Beautiful view of the reservoir - August 7, 2008

Be sure to explore the portion of the trail east of Gold Mine Road. It's about 3 miles in length, the trail is in good shape, and the scenery is even better than on the main Stony Valley Trail. You can see the awesome, Lebanon County Reservoir on your right as you bike east. Be sure to go down the graveled path to the water's edge to get a glimpse of the small Blue Gills that swim close to shore.

Concerning the Roush Gap bridge, it is now well graded with gravel ramps going up to the bridge so that you can bike over it and down the other side very nicely.

By Jim on August 9, 2008

temp bridge installed

A temporary bridge has been installed over the bridge at Rousch Gap, which had been damaged. The full length can be used.

bridge out, June 12, 2008, by Gordon Oliver

The Bridge on the eastern end of the trail at Rousch Gap is closed, the floods have undermined the east base of the arch bridge. The bridge is 4.3 miles west of Gold Mine Rd. I haven't searched for a crossing yet, when I find a way I will post it

beautiful ride

trail was in much better shape than we expected from the other reviews that we read. Once leaves turn a little I can picture this being one of the most picturesque places for a fall ride

1 July 07 - Nice Ride - Rough

"Trail is rough. Since it's part of the Game-Lands, I don't think the maintenance is designed to make it a 'bike path'. It's a bone shaker. Nice ride anyway. Good weather, nice shade and long."

Not a rail trail

This was a challenging and fun trail. It was very beautiful. It is no longer a rail trail however. It looks like the trail is being maintained by people who are not riders consequently the smooth gravel has been patched and convered with modified stone which is very rough and big rocks which can be dangerous.

This is not a typical rail trail by any means. Don't even think about riding it on a road bike.

Mountain Biking without hills

"If you have a mountain bike and want something in between smooth road and rough terrain this is it. Without question this is the roughest rail trail there is. Nice scenery, only problem is your too busy looking down to avoid trees and rocks.

If you're used to typical smooth rail trails pass on this."

Nice ride in the Middle of No Where

"I road this trial 8-7-05 from High Bridge to the Daulphin trail head and back. It was my first time on the trail, I parked in the parking lot on the west side of Goldmine roadm plenty of space left. I got on the trail around 12:30 and started on my way. On this half of the trail there are not many people around but once I got towards Daulphin I was passing someone every 10 min.

The only signs of human disturbance on this trail is the trail and the bridges. I heard there is a ghost town off of the trail but I did not venture out.

This was a great was to spend a sunday afternoon. Just make sure to pack a light lunch and take lots of water, you will not cross a road for 20 miles.

I clocked my round trip at 44.7 miles and was ready for the end, took 2:45 hours of ride time also I had a PPJ sandwitch for lunch and zone bars for the trail, and Gatorade in my Camelbak.

Overall great ride nice wide trail. But, if you are not in good shape start on the Lebanon end, it is a slight downhill to Daulphin, where you can have someone pick you up."

When you want to get away

"I started at the far west end near Dauphin. Once you ride in a few miles you're pretty much by yourself. At the beginning it's quite rough and bouncy. The rocks can be rather big for a ""finished"" trail. I bled air pressure off to 45 on my hybrid for my 2nd ride on this trail.

Although very enjoyable, I find it rather monotonous after awhile; you're riding through a tunnel of trees the whole time. It beats the hell out of battling cars, though. Leave your sunglasses in the car as it's too dark to use them because of the tree cover.

It's hard to find a more beautiful ride in PA in mid-October."

Spiritual Rejuvenation

"This is a great trail complete with solitude and a touch of spookiness. There are lots of remnants of abandoned coal towns. As soon as I entered the trail, I was enveloped by the forest. And there's great trout fishing at Cold Spring. "

Bicycle review

"Stony Valley was a nice ride. The day after a moderate rain there were puddles, but you can easily go around them. Also there were some rocks about 1-2 inches high, so keep your eyes open ahead as I almost did a head plant while looking at the creek and did not see a rock. Also, take bug repellant, as many bugs enjoy the trail too.

This trail should definitely be done again and again. "

Great trail

Great wild trail. Lots of deer and other wild life.

Fun Ride

"I rode this trail on March 9, 2002, from Stoney Creek to ""the ruins."" The trail was in very good shape. There were lots of deer and squirrels. It was a little discncerting when the army from Fort Indiantown Gap began having tank practice within close hearing of the trail. The takeout there was a problem for our car due to poor condition of the road. We had a very nice time."

Stoney Creek [Positive Review]

" If you're a rail/trail rider you'll like Stoney Creek. I usually go from Lebanon toward Dauphin. I would recommend this. My only negative comment would be that there are a few short segments of the trail that are deeply rutted, and there is a short section (close to the Dauphin end...) that is composed of obnoxiously large pebbles. However, it is completely shaded and wild life sitings are frequent. (I saw two black bears the last time I was there...) Nice long trail, gentle grade, good experience...give it a try."

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