Attention Rail Trail users, the adjoining railroad tracks are now active. The Steam into History excursion train is using the railroad tracks along the Rail Trail. (From New Freedom to Hanover Junction Train Station). Expect to see a train at any time while enjoying a trip on the trail. Where the trail crosses the railroad tracks, check both directions before proceeding. For those interested in Steam into History click here for the train schedule steamintohistory.com.
Heritage Rail Trail County Park extends more than twenty-one miles, this park winds through scenic areas of southern York County.
The ADA trail is a 10-foot wide compacted stone surface designed for hiking, bicycling, running, horseback riding, as well as winter sports such as cross country skiing and snow shoeing.
This linear park connects the historic district of downtown York, Pennsylvania with Maryland’s Northern Central Rail Trail, while traveling through 11 different municipalities. Adjacent to the trail is an active rail line.
The park is operated by the York County Department of Parks and Recreation. It is open year round, 8:00 AM until dusk.
Features of the Trail
Although the grade throughout the trail is reasonably level, New Freedom is the high point of elevation (818 ft) and the low point of elevation is (400 ft) in York City. Facilities along the trail include benches, picnic tables and restrooms. Communities along the trail offer more extensive services and facilities. Trail and restrooms are ADA accessible.
Other historic features of the trail include Howard Tunnel, four Railroad Bridges, New Freedom Train Station, & Hanover Junction Train Station, as listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hanover Junction is restored to the 1863 era.
New Freedom is restored to its 1940 railroad history.
Both historical museums stations are open to on selected dates throughout the summer and fall each year and supported by the Friends of the Heritage Rail Trail Corridor.
Take a look at the Trail’s web page for complete listing
History of the Rail
The 19th century saw the growth of the Northern Central Railroad, a vital link between Washington, D.C., Harrisburg, PA, upstate New York and Lake Ontario. Its passage through York County brought prosperity to the area’s farmers, merchants and manufacturers, and spurred the growth of communities like New Freedom, Glen Rock, Seven Valleys, Hanover Junction and the aptly-named town of Railroad.
The railroad was also a prime target for the Confederate Army prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. Rebel troops cut telegraph wires and destroyed bridges in their efforts to isolate Washington D.C. from the rest of the Union. After the destructive Battle, President Lincoln traveled via these rails to Gettysburg at deliver the Gettysburg Address and stopped at Hanover Junction.