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The 7.1-mile Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail runs from Ephrata west to Lititz in Warwick Township, following the former Reading and Columbia Railroad, which began service in 1863. The Lancaster Junction Trail is located farther down the same rail line on the route to Columbia. When the rail line was built during the Civil War, there was debate about whether the terrain was suitable for a rail line and if cutting a mere 25 miles off a trip from New York to Washington, D.C., was worth the investment, particularly when a rail line already existed through Harrisburg.
Though the easternmost endpoint is located a bit farther north, at Hazel Alley and Acorn Alley, it’s best to begin your journey 0.5 mile along the trail at Ephrata Linear Park, where parking is available. From here, the trail takes you through downtown Ephrata before passing through mostly residential areas. This portion of trail is paved and lit. At Millway Road in about 2.7 miles, parking and a restroom are available. If you turn right here, go 0.2 mile, and turn right again, you’ll find a farmers market offering fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.
In 2018 the 0.75-mile portion of trail in Warwick Township between a bridge at Cocalico Creek and East Meadow Valley Road was completed. From Millway Road, the trail crosses Cocalico Creek and heads to a trailhead on East Meadow Valley Road, between Cocalico and Briar Hill Roads. After this point, the trail becomes crushed stone and runs through farmland, though it still has some tree cover to keep your trip pleasant on a sunny day. Here, users are advised to be aware of farm equipment crossing the trail, stay a safe distance away, and observe posted rules and regulations.
In another 2.4 miles, you’ll pass through the Warwick Township Municipal Authority on Clay Road. More than just an administrative building, this trailhead offers a 20-acre park with baseball fields, a playground, and a 0.6-mile trail encircling it. The Warwick Township Municipal Authority also includes restrooms and the closest trail parking to the Lititz terminus. Head another 0.7 mile west on a trail that is once again paved and dead-ends at North Oak Street in Lititz.
From here, the southern endpoint of the 1.2-mile Warwick Township Linear Park Trail is just over a mile northwest, and the northern endpoint of the 0.5-mile Butterfly Acres Trail is less than a mile south.
On the western side of the Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail, Lititz Borough is working to extend the trail about 1 mile farther west in the future. On the eastern side, Ephrata Borough is in the planning stages for an extension north to West Pine Street, with an estimated completion date of 2020.
To reach a parking lot at Ephrata Linear Park from I-76, take Exit 286 for US 222. Continue onto Col. Howard Blvd. 0.8 mile, and then turn left to merge onto US 222 S toward Lancaster. In 4.9 miles take the US 322 exit, and turn right onto US 322/Main St. in Ephrata. Go 1.8 miles, turn left onto S. State St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn left onto E. Fulton St. Take the second right (280 feet) onto Railroad Ave., and then take an immediate left into the parking lot at Ephrata Linear Park. The endpoint is 0.3 mile farther east along the trail.
To reach the Warwick Township Municipal Authority trailhead near the western endpoint from I-76, take Exit 286 for US 222. Continue onto Col. Howard Blvd. For 0.8 mile, and then turn left to merge onto US 222 S toward Lancaster. In 9.3 miles take the SR 772 exit toward Brownstown/Rothsville, and turn right onto SR 772 W. Go 2.8 miles, and continue straight onto E. Newport Road. Go 1.4 miles, and turn left onto Clay Road. Then go 0.2 mile, and turn left into the municipal authority parking lot. The endpoint is 0.7 mile farther west along the trail.
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