Day 2 – Heritage Rail Trail: Round Trip from Railroad, PA to York, PA (38 miles)

Jackson House Dining Room

I slept soundly until about 5 AM when the first morning light peaked through the garden door of the Jackson House cottage; the sounds of a few early morning commuters passing by the B&B on their daily commute to Baltimore served as my alarm clock. After dressing and recounting the previous day’s events for our blog, we walked to the main building for breakfast. Pam, the owner of the B&B, had prepared us a scrumptious breakfast, including homemade blueberry waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage, and fresh fruit. A couple from Harrisburg joined us for breakfast, and we enjoyed hearing about their biking experiences and suggestions for the Amish driving tour that we planned to make later in the day.

Bicycle Sculptures on
Heritage Trail

Since we would be returning to the Jackson House B&B this evening after our bike ride, we decided to leave our panniers and most of our gear in our cottage. We started biking on the Heritage Trail toward York, PA promptly at 9 AM. The first three miles of the trail to Glen Rock were noticeably downhill, and we chatted about the differences between this trail and the Torrey Trail from the previous day. The Heritage Trail is wider, better maintained, and parallels both the Codorus Creek and the rail line which carries tourists on a historic train ride from New Freedom to York. As the day progressed, we both agreed that the Heritage Trail, with its history and well-kept trail, was much more enjoyable than the Torrey Trail.

Hanover Junction Train Station

We briefly stopped in Glen Rock to locate the restaurant where we planned to eat dinner and then pedaled on toward Hanover Junction, which is touted to be the train station where Abraham Lincoln passed through on his way from Washington, DC to Gettysburg. The train station houses a small museum that we hoped to visit on our return trip this evening.

Howard Tunnel

The next 12 miles to York passed by quickly; the trail was almost flat, and the cool morning air beckoned us north at a respectable 10 mph pace. Although there were no significant towns or landmarks on this portion of the trail, the scenery was sufficient. Numerous chipmunks scurried across our path as it zigzagged back and forth from the left to the right side of the train tracks while crossing the Codorus Creek. Although most of the trail was tree canopied, we did ride through a few open corn fields. The highlight of this morning’s ride was the Howard Tunnel located between MM15 & 16. The tunnel, which opened in 1838, is the second oldest active rail tunnel in the United States.

York City Park

We approached the outskirts of York about 11 AM. This urban section of the trail took us by a golf course, several local businesses, a tree-lined park, and a transit station. Although there are plans for an extension of the Heritage Trail to John Rudy County Park, there’s still a 1-mile gap in downtown York. The trail ends abruptly near Market Street, but we had directions for navigating the streets to the Enterprise Car Rental on Arsenal Rd. Fortunately, most of the roads between the end of the trail and the rental facility had sidewalks, but the last .2 mile was along a four-lane highway. As we pedaled up Georgetown Street, passing small brick homes and a large cemetery, Joyce’s fender detached from the frame, causing her to stop abruptly as it slid forward into her pedals. We managed to use zip ties to reattach the front of the fender to the rack positioned above her rear tire so that we could finish the 1 1/2 mile ride to Enterprise.

Amish Horse & Buggy

Our Enterprise agent agreed to allow us to stow our bikes in their break room while we drove the rental car over to Lancaster County. Joyce had made the car rental arrangements, and I appreciated her willingness to drive. It took approximately 45 minutes to drive from York to Miller’s Smorgasbord (the restaurant the couple we ate breakfast with had recommended) in Ronks. As soon as we drove into the parking lot, I recognized the restaurant because my husband and I ate there on our trip to Amish country a few years ago. Joyce and I chose to eat the soup, salad, and bread bar instead of gorging on the full buffet. The food was delicious but was not an authentic Amish-prepared meal as we had wanted. After lunch, we drove to Intercourse, PA along rural farm roads where we passed several horse-drawn buggies and observed Amish men working in the fields. The rich, rolling acreage provides an ideal setting for dairy and vegetable farms. I’m always nostalgic about farming communities because my mother has shared countless stories about growing up on a farm in West Virginia. I love the tall, shiny silos and the black & white jersey cows – definitely a glance back to simpler times. Joyce and I decided to stop at a large Amish-run quilt shop in Bird-in-Hand, and I was astonished by the quality of the handmade quilts. I purchased some quilted coasters for my sister and perused the bolts of fabric, precut quilt blocks, and finished handcrafts.

Codorus Creek

We drove west on Hwy 340 past more farms and shops and decided to stop at King’s Kreamery in Lancaster to get our ice cream “fix” for the day. Our return drive to York was uneventful except brief detours around local traffic. Upon Joyce’s request, the Enterprise manager agreed to have one of their drivers transport us and our bikes back to the trailhead. The driver dropped us off a block from the York trailhead, and we resumed our 19 mile ride south to the Jackson House B&B at about 4:30 PM.

Penn State Master Gardener Project @ Hanover Junction

I decided to make a brief pit stop at a convenience store to buy Gatorade and to use their restroom and Joyce obliged. As we left the urban streets of York, we used our phones to check-in for our Southwest return flight home to Atlanta and then focused on the gratifying ride ahead of us. Our first stop was Hanover Junction, housing a train museum that opens every Wednesday evening during the summer from 6-8 PM for historical porch talks. With sunset approaching, we could not stay for the porch talk about the Confederate invasion of the station’s telegram office; however, we did take time to tour the museum and to speak with the agent about Lincoln’s stop at the junction. He shared a fascinating account of Lincoln’s penning the Gettysburg Address on the train from Washington, DC and described an encounter between Lincoln and a local newspaper editor on the platform at Hanover Junction.

Glen Rock Mill Inn

Pedaling on, we arrived at the Glen Rock Mill Inn for dinner at approximately 7 PM. This crowded restaurant seemed to be the local hangout on Wednesday nights, but the service was good and the food was delicious. After dinner, we biked a little over three miles uphill to the Jackson House B&B in Railroad. Pam had left us chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen table; we grabbed two apiece and headed upstairs to our cottage for the night. Terrific day and perfect weather – God is good!

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