Last Updated:      April 17, 2008

Length:                Heritage Rail Trail; 21 miles                              

                              Northern Central Railroad Trail; 20 miles   

Difficulty:            Easy. This old rail trail is flat and consists of stone dust.

Directions:          CLICK HERE FOR PARKING

To start from Downtown York; Take exit 22 off of I-83 to North George St and travel south to downtown York. Turn right onto W Philadelphia St and then right onto N Pershing Ave just before you cross over Codorus Creek. There is on-street parking dedicated for the trail next to a private parking lot. There are signs.

To start from Indian Rock Dam Road parking lot; Take exit 14 off of I-83 to Route 182 west (Leaders Heights Rd which turns into Indian Rock Dam Rd). After you cross the tracks and before you cross the trail, there will be a dirt parking area for a few cars.

The 19th century saw the growth of the Northern Central Railroad, a vital link between Washington, D.C., Harrisburg, upstate New York and Lake Ontario. The railroad was also a prime target for the Confederate Army prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, as Rebel troops cut telegraph wires and destroyed bridges in their efforts to isolate Washington from the rest of the Union.  After the tragic Battle, President Lincoln traveled via the Northern Central to the Gettysburg battlefield, his train stopping in Hanover Junction on November 18 and 19, 1863.  The station was restored to its 1863 Civil War appearance in 2001 and a Civil War Museum is open to the public. Approximately 5.5 miles south of the Colonial Courthouse is the Howard Tunnel.  It is the oldest continuously operational railroad tunnel in the world.  The brick lined, 370 foot tunnel originally opened for traffic in 1838.  The tunnel was rehabilitated in 2003. The Heritage Rail Trail is 21 miles long and runs north from the Mason Dixon line just south of the Borough of New Freedom through Glen Rock, Hanover Junction, and Seven Valleys in the Colonial Courthouse in the City of York. The trail connects to Maryland's 20-mile long NORTHERN CENTRAL RAILROAD TRAIL . In addition to the Colonial Courthouse, three historic structures are located on the trail; Hanover Junction and New Freedom Train Stations and Howard Tunnel. Since the railway is operational, please stay clear of tracks at all times and cross only at established crossings. For more information visit; HERITAGE RAIL TRAIL .

Starting from Downtown York; The trail will continue north in the future to connect to John Rudy County Park. The trail crosses over W. Philadelphia St and runs alongside Codorus Creek. Past the parking lot you come to Lafayette Plaza? Here you’ll find a sign board and maps. You can also access the Visitor Center from here. The trail travels along the creek and passes by the Korean War Memorial and then the Bus/Train Depot. The trail follows the tracks the whole distance, but I’m not sure how often or even if trains still use these tracks. I didn’t see a one my whole trip. Spot the old steam locomotive on the left. After crossing over Kings Mill Rd at ¾ miles, the trail turns to stone-dust and pulls away from the creek. You’ll pass by Mile marker 20. Mile markers every mile along the trail. The trail crosses back and forth over the rail tracks all along the route. After crossing over the tracks at 2.8 miles, the trail becomes a little more secluded, with a large hill along the left side. Next, you come to Indian Rock Dam Road, where there is a small dirt parking area for a few cars. The trail now travels out into the countryside. You cross over the creek at 3 ¾ miles where you’ll find a shade covered picnic table. These are located all along the trail. I spotted a white 53 mile marker used by the railroad that probably corresponds to the distance from Baltimore, MD. You come to Brillhart Station parking lot at 4.2 miles. After passing by the scenic Twin Arch Horse Farm at 5 ½ miles you come alongside South Branch Codorus Creek and then the trail highlight “Howard Tunnel” at mile 6. Constructed in 1838, this is the oldest continually operated tunnel in the world. An informational signboard is located on the other side of the tunnel. There are a few of these informative signboards along the trail. You pass through Glatfelters Station at 7 ¾ miles and soon come to an open meadow with a beautiful stone house to your right. The Seven Valleys parking lot and pavilion arrive at 9.7 miles. Check out the funky “bike art” next to the trail. Next comes the Hanover Junction Station parking lot at 10 ¾ miles, followed by the hamlet of Seitzville at 12 miles and finally Glen Rock at 15 miles. This is where I stopped. Plenty of refreshments in the town.