Top 10 Best Biking Rail Trails in Pennsylvania: The Ultimate Guide

Best Biking Rail Trails in Pennsylvania

Rail trails have surged in popularity as a preferred biking destination due to their winning combination of accessibility, scenic beauty, and safety. The allure lies in the opportunity to bike through picturesque landscapes, explore local communities, and even delve into historical remnants of the past. Whether for a leisurely family ride, a fitness excursion, or a long-distance adventure, rail trails have become a beloved choice for cyclists seeking a fulfilling and accessible biking experience.

In Pennsylvania, specifically, the allure for rail trail enthusiasts lies in its incredible diversity of landscapes and an abundance of well-maintained trails.  From the rugged beauty of the Pocono Mountains to the gentle charm of farmlands and the historic richness of towns, Pennsylvania offers a wide array of scenic backdrops for bikers. With numerous rail trails crisscrossing the state, cyclists can explore this variety.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the best biking rail trails in Pennsylvania, showcasing the state’s remarkable outdoor offerings and highlighting the experiences that await on two wheels. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a leisurely rider, these trails promise adventure, history, and the simple joy of exploring Pennsylvania’s breathtaking landscapes.

1. Great Allegheny Passage (GAP): Scenic Multi-State Rail-to-Trail Experience

Great Allegheny Passage - Best Biking Rail Trails in Pennsylvania
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The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) stands out as one of the best biking rail trails not only in Pennsylvania but in the entire country and for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, its sheer length, stretching approximately 150 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland, offers an unparalleled opportunity for long-distance biking adventures.

What truly sets the GAP apart, however, is the breathtaking scenery it unveils along the way. As you pedal along this historic trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of rivers, mountains, and charming towns. The trail takes you through iconic spots like the Ohiopyle State Park, where you can witness the awe-inspiring Ohiopyle Falls. Additionally, the GAP seamlessly connects to the C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland, creating an epic 335-mile continuous biking experience all the way to Washington, D.C.

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The well-maintained trail surface and numerous amenities along the route, such as campgrounds and charming trail towns, make it accessible and enjoyable for cyclists of all levels. Whether you’re seeking an exhilarating multi-day adventure or a leisurely day ride, the Great Allegheny Passage promises a memorable journey through some of the most picturesque and historically significant landscapes in the eastern United States. It’s no wonder why the GAP consistently ranks as one of the best biking rail trails for both seasoned cyclists and those looking to embark on their first long-distance biking excursion.

2. Pine Creek Rail Trail: Riverside Beauty in Pennsylvania

Pine Creek Rail Trail
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The Pine Creek Rail Trail is a gem nestled in north-central Pennsylvania, offering a biking and hiking experience like no other. Stretching for 62 miles through the heart of the state’s wilderness, this trail winds its way through the breathtaking Pine Creek Gorge, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

As you pedal along the Pine Creek Rail Trail, you’ll be treated to some of the most picturesque scenery in the region. Towering cliffs, lush forests, and the meandering Pine Creek itself create a stunning backdrop for your journey. The trail’s gentle grade, following the former railway, makes it accessible to cyclists of all levels, including families with children.

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Throughout the ride, you can explore charming trail towns like Wellsboro, where you’ll find quaint shops and eateries. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely day ride or a multi-day adventure, the Pine Creek Rail Trail delivers an immersive experience into Pennsylvania’s wilderness, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and biking enthusiasts alike. It’s a place where tranquility meets adventure, and every pedal stroke takes you deeper into the heart of one of Pennsylvania’s most captivating natural wonders.

3. Lebanon Valley Rail Trail: Tranquil Rural Trail in Lebanon

Lebanon Valley Rail Trail
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The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail is a delightful cycling and walking path in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, offering a serene and scenic journey through the region’s picturesque landscapes. Spanning 15 miles, this rail trail follows the former Cornwall-Lebanon Railroad line, providing an enjoyable and family-friendly outdoor experience.

As you traverse the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, you’ll find yourself immersed in a tranquil environment, passing through a mix of farmland, woodlands, and charming towns. The trail is well-maintained and features a smooth, flat surface, making it accessible for cyclists of all skill levels. It’s an ideal destination for a leisurely ride, whether you’re cycling solo, with friends, or with the family.

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Along the way, you can explore some of the historic remnants of the region, including old railroad structures and landmarks. Many sections of the trail are lined with lush vegetation, offering shade and a serene atmosphere, especially during the warm months.

The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail also connects to various local parks and recreation areas, enhancing its appeal as a versatile outdoor destination. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful ride through bucolic landscapes or a chance to explore the historical and natural charms of Lebanon County, this trail promises an enjoyable and accessible biking experience in the heart of Pennsylvania.

4. York County Heritage Rail Trail: Historic York County Cycling Route

Heritage Railroad Trail County Park
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The York County Heritage Rail Trail, located in York County, Pennsylvania, is a captivating biking and walking trail that seamlessly blends history, nature, and community charm. Stretching for 21 miles, this well-maintained rail trail offers a diverse range of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. This trail takes you on a scenic journey as it winds its way through a variety of landscapes, including lush woodlands, picturesque farmlands, and the serene countryside of York County.

Along the route, you’ll encounter several historical markers, providing insights into the region’s rich heritage and the role of railroads in shaping it. The trail is also dotted with trailheads and access points, making it easy to plan rides of varying lengths and starting points.

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What sets the York County Heritage Rail Trail apart is its integration with local communities. The trail passes through or near several charming towns and villages, allowing cyclists to explore their unique character and enjoy local amenities, including cafes, shops, and restaurants.

With its mix of natural beauty, historical significance, and community engagement, the York County Heritage Rail Trail offers an enriching and accessible biking experience for riders of all levels. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in Pennsylvania’s landscapes and heritage while enjoying the warmth and hospitality of the local communities along the way.

5. Schuylkill River Trail: Urban Riverfront Trail in Pennsylvania

Schuylkill River Trail
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The Schuylkill River Trail is a remarkable gem in southeastern Pennsylvania, offering outdoor enthusiasts and cyclists a unique blend of urban and natural beauty. This expansive trail system follows the scenic Schuylkill River and is renowned for its diverse experiences.

Spanning a significant distance, the Schuylkill River Trail allows you to explore various settings, from vibrant cityscapes in Philadelphia to peaceful riverside stretches and lush greenways in more rural areas. The trail is well-maintained and offers a variety of surfaces, making it accessible for cyclists of all levels.

One of the trail’s notable features is its connection to several key attractions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Valley Forge National Historical Park. It also passes through charming towns like Phoenixville and Manayunk, offering opportunities for rest, refreshments, and exploration.

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With a rich history and numerous interpretive signs along the way, the Schuylkill River Trail provides insights into the region’s industrial past and the role of the river in shaping the area’s development. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to spot wildlife along the trail, including herons and other waterfowl.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride, a scenic escape, or a way to explore the heart of Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River Trail offers it all. It’s a versatile and captivating destination that showcases the beauty, culture, and history of southeastern Pennsylvania, making it a must-visit for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

6. Three Rivers Heritage Trail: Pittsburgh’s Picturesque Riverfront Path

Three Rivers Heritage Trail
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The Three Rivers Heritage Trail, nestled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a captivating urban biking and walking network that beautifully merges nature and culture. This trail system stretches for approximately 24 miles and takes you on a journey through the heart of Pittsburgh’s vibrant landscapes.

What sets the Three Rivers Heritage Trail apart is its unique combination of urban and natural settings. As you pedal along the trail, you’ll follow the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers, which are intertwined with the city’s history and culture. Along the way, you’ll encounter numerous parks, green spaces, and stunning riverfront views.

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The Three Rivers Heritage Trail’s well-maintained paths, signage, and accessibility make it a popular choice for cyclists of all levels. It’s a testament to Pittsburgh’s commitment to creating a bike-friendly urban environment that encourages both recreational biking and eco-friendly commuting.

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail offers an urban adventure that seamlessly integrates nature, culture, and history. It’s a place where you can enjoy the pulse of the city while immersing yourself in the beauty of Pittsburgh’s rivers and green spaces, making it a must-explore destination for both locals and visitors.

7. Lehigh Gorge Trail: Rugged Mountain Adventure in Lehigh Gorge

Lehigh Gorge Trail
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The Lehigh Gorge Trail, nestled in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, is a true outdoor paradise for biking and nature enthusiasts alike. Stretching for approximately 26 miles, this rail trail takes you on a captivating journey through one of the state’s most scenic and natural wonders.

What sets the Lehigh Gorge Trail apart is its stunning natural beauty. As you ride along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Lehigh River, dense forests, and towering cliffs. The trail follows the path of the former Lehigh Valley Railroad, offering a gentle grade and smooth surface that makes it accessible to cyclists of all levels.

Lehigh Gorge State Park Biking
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One of the trail’s highlights is the Lehigh Gorge State Park, which the trail traverses. Here, you can explore the lush woodlands, go birdwatching, and even spot the occasional waterfall. The trail’s multiple access points and trailheads make it easy to plan rides of varying lengths, from short family outings to longer adventures.

Additionally, the Lehigh Gorge Trail is known for its world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities. You’ll often see adventurers navigating the river’s rapids as you cycle alongside it.

The Lehigh Gorge Trail offers a captivating blend of natural splendor and outdoor recreation. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Pennsylvania’s wilderness, whether you’re seeking a leisurely ride, a day of family fun, or a thrilling adventure in the great outdoors.

8. Allegheny River Trail: Riverside Cycling Journey in Western PA

Allegheny River Trail
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The Allegheny River Trail is a hidden gem in northwestern Pennsylvania, offering a peaceful and picturesque biking experience along the banks of the Allegheny River. Spanning approximately 30 miles, this trail is a testament to the region’s natural beauty and commitment to outdoor recreation.

As you embark on the Allegheny River Trail, you’ll be enveloped by serene woodlands, lush meadows, and tranquil river vistas. The trail follows the course of the Allegheny River, providing a gentle and mostly flat terrain that is accessible to cyclists of various skill levels. It’s an ideal destination for a leisurely ride, whether you’re exploring solo or with family and friends.

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The Allegheny River Trail also passes through charming towns like Franklin and Emlenton, where you can stop for a meal, visit local attractions, or simply soak in the small-town atmosphere.

The Allegheny River Trail is a place of tranquility and connection with nature. It’s a destination where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, embrace the serenity of the Allegheny River, and savor the simple joy of cycling through some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful landscapes.

9. Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail: Historic Canal Path Through PA

Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail
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The Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail is a remarkable 165-mile-long multi-use trail that winds its way through eastern Pennsylvania, connecting the cities of Bristol and Wilkes-Barre. This trail, rich in history and natural beauty, offers a diverse and immersive experience for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

What makes the D&L Trail stand out is its unique blend of urban and rural landscapes. It follows the historic routes of two significant canals, the Delaware Canal and the Lehigh Canal, which were once essential for transporting goods in the 19th century. Along the way, you’ll encounter remnants of this industrial past, including old canal locks, bridges, and charming canal towns.

The trail meanders through a variety of settings, including lush riverfront paths, tranquil woodlands, and charming communities. It also offers a chance to explore cultural and historical landmarks, such as museums, heritage sites, and preserved canal structures.

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The D&L Trail’s well-maintained surface accommodates cyclists, hikers, and even cross-country skiers, making it accessible year-round. The trail is divided into manageable sections, allowing you to plan day trips or multi-day adventures, exploring different regions of eastern Pennsylvania.

This trail also connects with other major trails and recreational areas, such as the Delaware Canal Towpath and Lehigh Gorge State Park, further enhancing its appeal for extended biking or hiking experiences.

The Delaware & Lehigh Trail is a captivating journey through Pennsylvania’s history, nature, and culture. It’s a place where you can pedal through time, explore the remnants of a bygone era, and immerse yourself in the scenic beauty and rich heritage of eastern Pennsylvania.

10. Perkiomen Trail: Serene Suburban Biking Route

Perkiomen Trail
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The Perkiomen Trail, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is a delightful outdoor escape that seamlessly combines natural beauty with recreational opportunities. This 19-mile-long trail follows the path of the former Perkiomen Valley Railroad and takes you on a scenic journey through southeastern Pennsylvania.

What sets the Perkiomen Trail apart is its peaceful and picturesque setting. As you pedal along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery, serene woodlands, and the gentle flow of the Perkiomen Creek. The trail’s smooth and well-maintained surface makes it accessible to cyclists of various skill levels, including families with children.

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Along the way, you can immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty, with opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation. The trail also passes through charming towns like Green Lane and Schwenksville, offering options for rest, dining, and exploration.

Whether you’re seeking a leisurely ride through tranquil landscapes or a day of family fun in the great outdoors, the Perkiomen Trail offers a serene and accessible biking experience in southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s a place where you can reconnect with nature, unwind, and enjoy the simple pleasure of cycling along the banks of Perkiomen Creek.

Diverse Biking Experiences Pennsylvania Offers

Pennsylvania offers a tapestry of biking experiences that cater to all riders. From the tranquil beauty of scenic rail trails like the Pine Creek Rail Trail to the heart-pounding excitement of mountain biking in the Pocono Mountains, the state’s terrain is as varied as its landscapes. Urban cyclists can explore vibrant cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while long-distance enthusiasts can embark on epic adventures along historic routes. Families can enjoy safe and leisurely rides, and cultural enthusiasts can delve into Pennsylvania’s rich heritage.

These top 10 best biking rail trails in Pennsylvania offer a unique blend of scenic vistas, cultural significance, and recreational opportunities. Whether you seek a leisurely ride through picturesque landscapes or crave the challenge of longer-distance adventures, Pennsylvania has it all. As you embark on your biking exploration of the Keystone State, remember to embrace the beauty, respect the history, and savor every moment pedaling along these remarkable trails.

May your biking adventures in Pennsylvania be filled with joy, discovery, and memories that will last a lifetime. Happy trails!

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