Now that Spring has arrived I wanted to re-visit the Heritage Rail-Trail Park, a small portion of which I had visited last December. This time I wanted to explore the trail further north, and in order to fit the trip into my regular work day schedule, I found a Rutter’s store off of exit 14 on I-83 near York with a couple of parking spots for large trucks. From there, it is just over three miles away from the Brillhart Station Trailhead (Click here for a map). This route to the trail is very hilly, but the trail itself, like most rail-trails, is very flat and easy to ride.
I’ve visited and written about other sections of Maryland’s C+O Trail before, but at 185 miles long, there is always more of it to explore. Last week I took time out from my regular Michigan-to-Maryland route to explore a portion of the trail running through Williamsport, Maryland. Only 2.8 miles from the Hagerstown, Maryland Pilot Travel Center off of exit 24 on I-70, it is an easy bike trip or hike away from truck parking. (Click here for a map)
Now that Spring is here, I can stop at one of my favorite hiking spots along my daily Flint-Baltimore commute. This stretch of the Appalachian Trail near Myersville, Maryland is within reach of the truck parking lot at the Maryland Welcome Center on eastbound I-70 around mile marker 41. Following the route detailed on this map, I bike up the dirt road behind the Welcome Center to the trail. There, I hide the bike and hike. Bikes are not allowed on the trail, and much of it would be inaccessible to them anyways.
As much as I enjoy this part of the trail, accessing it at this point presents potential problems. First of all, you will need to leave the Welcome Center through the restricted access gate in back, passing the sign saying “Authorized Vehicles Only”. I don’t have a problem with this, but I sometimes worry that the open gate might someday close while I’m out hiking. I’m thankful that hasn’t happened yet, because while I’m willing to do what it takes in order to have a small adventure, I draw the line at hopping fences. I also draw the line at crossing private property, so I recommend sticking to the route on the map above.
Don’t worry about any of that though. Worry about your feet, and carry a bottle of water. Parts of the short road to the trail, and the trail itself, are steep, and a five mile hike seems much farther when you’re dehydrated and wearing bad shoes.
I don’t mean to scare you off of this trip. Even mildly dehydrated and sore, I always feel great after hiking here. I’m hoping to get back once the leaves return so I can take more pictures.
I have probably stopped at the Pilot Travel Center in Austintown, Ohio (exit 223 on I-80) a hundred times before I noticed the bike trail that runs right alongside the back parking lot. It’s easy to miss, behind a row of trees and down a slight hill, but the Mill Creek Metroparks Bike Trail runs about 11 miles between Austintown and Canfield Township, and is worth a visit. It is easily accessable by following Ohltown-Girard Road (the access road to the truck stop fuel line entrance) for just about 100 yards. I have found that the trail to the south of the truck stop is more scenic, but you can get a better view of the Meander Creek Reservoir and dam if you head north on the trail.
An even better view of the reservoir and of a local game reserve can be had by continuing just another mile or two down Ohltown-Girard Road. (Follow this map) This pretty country road is just two lanes with an adequate shoulder for walking or biking, and gets very little traffic. Like the Mill Creek Bike Path, it is mostly flat and easy to hike or bike.
The Flight 93 National Memorial commemorates those who died attempting to take back their flight from terrorists on 9/11, and in doing so likely prevented an attack on the Capitol.
Parking is available for large trucks and buses, but I’m glad there weren’t a lot of other visitors when I visited this week. The lot might have been difficult to maneuver in if it had been full. Truckers have a couple of different possible safe routes in, but I prefer taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit 110 in Somerset to PA-281 north, to US-30 east, to the park entrance. The drive in from the turnpike is about 20 miles and 30 minutes. There is one tricky hairpin turn on the way back as you go from US-30 back to PA-281, otherwise the trip is a snap.
After visiting the memorial, consider stopping in Somerset. Before hopping back onto the turnpike, consider parking at the truck plaza and walk to any number of decent restaurants. I recommend the Summit Diner, a short walk from the truck stop.
These pictures were taken on the Paint Creek Trail near Rochester, Michigan last fall. I discovered the trail while at work making a delivery near the Oakland Township’s Paint Creek Cider Mill, which is perfectly located nearby. Their homemade donuts are the perfect way to reward yourself for the exercise you’ll get on the trail.
Well, I feel silly.
I was making a delivery in Williamsport, Maryland just now, and when I went into the receiving office to give them my paperwork I noticed this really cool, but obscure song by Maria McKee was playing. The woman in receiving seemed chatty so I asked her if they were listening to satellite radio because I knew this song would never be on regular broadcast radio. She looked at me briefly with no expression then went on with her routine speech telling me where to drop the trailer and so forth.
I thought “whatever, I guess she’s busy and doesn’t want to chat”, and went back to my truck, singing the song to myself along the way. When I got inside the truck , sat in the driver’s seat and stopped singing, to my surprise the music continued. After a nano-second of actually wondering if the plant was piping the music outside the truth occurred to me; as I was walking into the plant I must have accidently turned on the music streaming app on my smart phone. The music that I, and nobody else, heard was coming from MY PANTS POCKET.
They must have been thinking “there goes another crazy trucker!”