The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, designated a National Recreation Trail in 2004, runs through the the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. With a surface of crushed limestone stone and a parallel wood chip path for horseback riders, it provides easy, scenic cycling for bicyclists of all ages and abilities from the Lancaster/Lebanon County Line in the south to the northern trailhead at Eighth Street in the City of Lebanon, PA. At the southern end, the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail connects with the six mile Conewago Trail to make a safe and continuous, twenty-one mile multi-use recreational path that extends to Elizabethtown in Lancaster County. The smooth trail surface is suitable for both mountain bikes and hybrid bicycles.
The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail connects the villages of Cornwall, Colebrook, Mt. Gretna and Lawn. It travels through a variety of landscapes ranging from quiet woodlands, the Governor Dick Recreation Area, pastoral countryside and farmland. Much of the route is surrounded by 4,000 acres of Pennsylvania State Gameland Forest. At times, the bike path runs along winding, Conewago Creek. Historic trail features include a rehabilitated, 130-foot iron-truss rail bridge and the Cornwall Iron Furnace National Historic Site (circa 1742). Several spur trails branch off the route and connect with area park trails and forest roads to provide miles of additional mountain biking.
Where to begin your bike ride? Each section of the rail-trail offers a different experience. Trail users will find restrooms and parking at the Colebrook and Lawn trail access points. The Cornwall Trailhead offers ample parking, a Trailhead Kiosk with trail map outlining the route, but no restrooms.
SOUTH HILLS PARK, LEBANON TO CORNWALL: 4 miles
In 2009, a 2.5 mile trail extension from the existing northern trailhead near Zinns Mill Road into the City of Lebanon was opened, putting the current northern Terminus at Rt. 72 / S. Eighth Street. A spur trail along Wilhelm Avenue leads into 100 acre South Hills Park where cyclists can connect to a 1.1 mile paved walk / bike path which circles the park. Along the path, picnic tables and benches provide the opportunity for either a break before your return trip, lunch or a snack.
CORNWALL TO MT. GRETNA SPUR CONNECTOR TRAIL : 4 miles
Just south of the Cornwall Trailhead, the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail crosses the historic iron-truss rail bridge. For the next 3.5 miles, the path flows along a slight uphill grade, through pretty woodlands and State Gameland Forest. Just north of Mt. Gretna at Butler Road, the trail travels on a private drive for about .25 miles. Turn around here and head back for a pleasant 8 mile round-trip. Take the time to visit the Cornwall National Historic Site (see notes below).
MT. GRETNA TO COLEBROOK : 2.5 miles
A short distance east of the trail, via the Gretna Spur Connector Trail, is the quaint, victorian village of Mt. Gretna. This small mountain resort community hosts an annual “Outdoor Art Show” in August, “Music at Gretna” with outdoor and indoor concerts of classical and jazz, and a professional summer stock theatre company. East of town is the Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick. The park features 1100 acres of dirt and gravel forest roads and singletrack trails for hiking, mountain biking and horse back riding, an Environmental Center and a sixty-six foot circular observation tower that offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Continuing south along the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, about 1 mile north of the Colebrook Trailhead, a State Gameland Trail access loop located northeast of the Lake Duffy Reservoir intersects the Lebanon Valley Trail and leads to a Forest Service Road (Boy Scout Road). Boyscout Road runs for 2 miles to the Pennsylvania Game Commission parking lot adjacent to Route 117. Several other trails for mountain biking can also be accessed from the parking lot. Be aware of hunting seasons. It is best to stay out of these areas at those times.
COLEBROOK TO LAWN : 2 miles
South of Colebrook the rail-trail follows the quiet, meandering Conewago Creek where the landscape opens up to views of fields and farmland. Its an idyllic scene and an easy ride on a gentle downhill grade into Lawn.
Colebrook trailhead: Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) to exit 266 (Lebanon/Lancaster). Follow Rt. 72 north to Rt. 117 (Mt. Gretna Exit) and take Rt. 117 north about five miles to the Colebrook trailhead. Parking is available at the intersection of Rt. 117 and Colebrook Road.
Cornwall Trailhead: Follow above directions and continue on Rt. 72 north to 419 north, then go about 2 miles to the Cornwall trailhead which is located on the left.
Lebanon Trailhead: From US Route 322, take PA Route 72 North. Make a right turn at Oak Street.Go 2 blocks then turn right on 8th Street. Near the intersection with Popular Street, look for the trailhead on your right.
Historic and Cultural Trail Features
The trail follows the railbed of the former Cornwall-Lebanon Railroad built during the 1880’s by iron ore magnate Robert H. Cornwall. The route is rich in social and economic history of the area.
Cornwall Iron Furnace
Part of a National Historic Landmark District, Cornwall Furnace, built in 1742, is the most complete charcoal fueled ironmaking complex in the country to survive intact. Visitors can step back in time and learn about this mid-19th century iron plantation where men worked around the clock to keep the furnace fires raging and explore buildings where cannons, stoves, and pig iron were cast. After undergoing several renovations it closed in 1883.
Directions: Near Cornwall. Accessible from the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Exit 266, Route 72, Route 419, and Route 322.
For more information:
For other long distance multi-use rail trails in the Pennsylvania Dutch Region see Pennsylvania Rail Trails
Lebanon Valley Rails To Trails
Trail Website: Lebanon Valley Rails To Trails