Heritage Rail Trail appeals to over 300,000 users yearly along its route. Heritage Rail Trail County Park has a 21-mile trail covering 176 acres. It treks north from the Mason Dixon line just south of the Borough of New Freedom PA. It connects with Maryland’s 21-mile Torrey C. Brown Trail ending at the Pennsylvania border. Both trails combine equaling 42 total miles. This makes for a long hike but an attractive distance for long distance bicyclers.
The trail’s fine crushed gravel surface is generally good condition. It can be used for hiking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding. The trail winds through farmland along Codorus Creek through well shaded terrain making it a pleasant journey even during hot summer days.
The trail travels through Glen Rock, Hanover Junction, and Seven Valleys, the Howard Tunnel ending north in the city of York. The 370-foot Howard Tunnel is the world’s oldest continuously operational railroad tunnel opening in 1838.
Benches and picnic tables are placed along the trail for taking breaks. Pets must be leashed, camping, motorized vehicles and alcohol are prohibited. There is a ‘Carry in, Carry out’ trash policy.
Three historic structures and the Colonial Courthouse are passed along the trail. A railway is still active along Hanover Junction, New Freedom Train Station and Howard Tunnel. It is important to stay clear of the tracks using only conventional crossings.
The trail follows the oldest rail passageway in the country. In 1832 The York and Maryland Railroad Company chartered and connected with the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad at the state line. The two railroads merged in 1853 forming Northern Central Railway Company.
The first floor of the Hanover Junction Train Station has been renovated creating a museum. Its contents include models of station changes, Civil War images, memorabilia and a restroom stop for the Heritage Rail Trail.
New Freedom is a borough of 4,464 population at the southern end of the Heritage Rail Trail. It has The New Freedom Train Station newly restored for a railroad museum, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the highest point along the Heritage Rail Trail.
The northern end of the trail ends at York PA a city of 43,718 population, currently the 14th largest city in the state. Colonists from Philadelphia first settled it in 1741.
Heritage Rail Trail is readily accessible from US 83 with parking lots at York, Brillhart Station, Glatfelter Station, Seven Valleys, Hanover Junction, Glen Rock and New Freedom Station. Don’t be surprised to find the parking lots filled with cars since the trail is so popular.
York PA is a 4 ½ hour drive of 289 miles from Rochester NY. Drive south from Rochester on route 15 into Pennsylvania to Harrisburg. Continue driving south on US 83 to York PA.
A bicyclist made the following comments on the trail.
“A lot of nice scenery very relaxing and you can really fly on this trail- a great day/weekend/ and family trail.”