Stony Valley Railroad Grade
April 8, 2016
Blue Marsh Lake
April 12, 2016

Switchback Railroad Trail

For those who would like to enjoy biking on a trail that does not require much pedaling downhill, then Switchback Railroad Trail offers the best option for this. Extending 18 miles (29 km) from Summit Hill to Jim Thorpe town, this trails lies on the right-of-way of the former Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway line and the terrain is mainly natural with roots, dirt, rocks and some chunks of coal as well.

Parking space for bikers and hikers is also available; this is at Mauch Chunk Lake Park whose location is midway on Switchback Railroad Trail. Climbing up Summit Hill can be a challenge to some bikers and to this effect, shuttle services have been made available to help bikers get to the top of the hill. If you have not brought your bike, you can go for a rental one that can be sourced from any of the bicycle outfitters around here.

Once at the top, individuals enjoy a downhill ride, which is a wonderful experience for all adventure lovers. The downhill ride finally culminates at Jim Thorpe town. When Switchback Railroad was in place, it was mainly used to transport coal from the Summit Mine to the Lehigh Canal and this railroad evolved in various ways.

First it had a gravity-powered system (The Down Track), then the mule-powered system (The Back Track) and eventually the gravity-run operation. The steam locomotion started phasing out the use of this railroad in the 1800s and from 1870 it became a tourist attraction that thrilled many with its 50-mile-per-hour downhill ride that passed through Leigh Valley’s lush landscape.

This is what inspired creation of the roller coaster and in 1977 the Switchback was converted to a trail. The most amazing thing about Switchback Railroad Trail is that it offers a wonderful view of various features and environments. While on the trail you will be in a better position to view Mount Pisgah, Jim Thorpe Town, an old mine shaft as well as the Lehigh Gorge.

Interpretive panels have also been put in place that explain the experience of riding the old mine shaft and the Gravity Railroad. Several activities are available for visitors to the place within Mauch Chunk Lake Park including food and boat concessions, camping, boating, fishing and swimming. In its natural state the trail offers a good challenge for hikers and bikers who frequent the place.

Even after ceasing to be a tourist attraction in the year 1929, this trail continues to attract both tourists and locals who frequent the place to enjoy the wonderful sights around and take part in various activities. At the park you will also find campgrounds, restrooms and picnic areas, which are part of the facilities that make your stay here as a visitor, enjoyable.

A small loop that leads the way to a scenic view can be traced but you will need to be careful on this one since there has been mention of copperheads that have been seen around here by locals. From here you can also access the D & L Trail – Lehigh Gorge State Park and D & L Trail – Lehigh Canal North; for those who would want to explore more trails.

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