Cumberland Valley Rail Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 9.5 miles.
  • Type: Biking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Council
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail holds a significant place in the history of Pennsylvania’s transportation system. Originally known as the Cumberland Valley Railroad, it was established in the mid-19th century as a vital link between the Susquehanna River and the Potomac River. The railroad played a crucial role in the region’s economic development, connecting the agricultural and industrial areas of the Cumberland Valley with major cities like Harrisburg, Chambersburg, and Hagerstown.

Construction of the Cumberland Valley Railroad began in 1835, and the first section, stretching from Harrisburg to Carlisle, was completed in 1837. The railroad expanded rapidly, reaching Shippensburg in 1839 and eventually extending all the way to Hagerstown, Maryland, by 1846. This expansion facilitated the transportation of goods, such as coal, iron, and agricultural products, which were essential to the region’s growth.

Throughout its history, the Cumberland Valley Railroad faced various challenges, including financial difficulties and competition from other railroads. However, it continued to operate successfully until the mid-20th century when the decline of rail transportation led to its closure in 1972. Recognizing the historical significance of the rail line, efforts were made to preserve and repurpose it as a recreational trail.

In 1991, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Association was formed, and with the support of local communities, the rail corridor was transformed into a multi-use trail. The trail officially opened in 1996, providing a scenic route for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts. Today, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail spans approximately 11 miles, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich transportation history while providing a peaceful and enjoyable recreational experience for visitors and locals alike.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Shippensburg Trailhead: Located in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, this trailhead is the starting point of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

2. Newville Trailhead: Situated in Newville, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides parking facilities and restrooms. It is a popular access point for the rail trail.

3. Oakville Trailhead: Located in Oakville, Pennsylvania, this trailhead offers parking facilities and restrooms. It is another access point along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

4. Mount Rock Trailhead: Situated in Mount Rock, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides parking facilities and restrooms. It is a convenient access point for the rail trail.

5. Shippensburg Township Park: Located in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, this park serves as an access point for the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. It offers parking facilities, restrooms, and additional recreational amenities.

6. Newville Community Park: Situated in Newville, Pennsylvania, this community park provides access to the rail trail. It offers parking facilities, restrooms, and other recreational amenities.

7. Carlisle Trailhead: Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, this trailhead is a major access point for the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. It offers parking facilities, restrooms, and is conveniently located near downtown Carlisle.

8. Mechanicsburg Trailhead: Situated in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the rail trail. It offers parking facilities, restrooms, and is conveniently located near downtown Mechanicsburg.

9. Shiremanstown Trailhead: Located in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, this trailhead serves as an access point for the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

10. Lemoyne Trailhead: Situated in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, this trailhead provides access to the rail trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms, and is conveniently located near downtown Lemoyne.

Transportation Available

1. Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service for convenient transportation along the trail.
2. Carlisle Taxi – Local taxi service for quick and reliable transportation.
3. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service available in the area.
4. Lyft – Another popular ridesharing service offering transportation options.
5. Greyhound – Intercity bus service with various routes connecting to nearby cities.
6. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service with a station in nearby Harrisburg.
7. Capital Area Transit (CAT) – Public bus service serving the Cumberland Valley region.
8. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service for those looking for personal transportation.
9. Hertz – Another car rental option for convenient travel in the area.
10. Zipcar – Car-sharing service with vehicles available for rent by the hour or day.


The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail offers the following amenities:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at trailheads and parks.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas at multiple trailheads and access points along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. These parking lots provide convenient access to the trail for visitors.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not permitted directly on the rail trail, there are nearby campgrounds and parks where visitors can set up camp. Some popular camping options near the trail include Colonel Denning State Park and Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas located along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. These areas provide tables, benches, and sometimes grills for visitors to enjoy a meal or snack while taking a break from their walk or bike ride.

5. Water Fountains: There are water fountains available at certain points along the trail, allowing visitors to stay hydrated during their outdoor activities.

6. Bike Repair Stations: The trail features bike repair stations equipped with tools and air pumps. These stations are useful for cyclists who may need to make minor repairs or adjustments to their bikes while on the trail.

7. Informational Signage: The trail is lined with informational signs that provide details about the history, wildlife, and points of interest along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

8. Benches and Rest Areas: There are numerous benches and rest areas along the trail where visitors can take a break, relax, and enjoy the surrounding scenery.

9. Dog-Friendly: The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is dog-friendly, allowing visitors to bring their furry friends along for a walk or run. However, dogs must be kept on a leash and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

10. Accessibility: The trail is designed to be accessible to people of all abilities, with sections featuring smooth surfaces and gradual slopes to accommodate wheelchair users and individuals with mobility challenges.

Please note that amenities may vary at different sections of the trail, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific trailhead or park’s website for more detailed information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Comfort Suites Carlisle: A modern hotel offering comfortable rooms and amenities near the trail.
– Hampton Inn Carlisle: A well-known hotel chain providing convenient accommodation options for trail visitors.
– Carlisle House Bed and Breakfast: A charming B&B with cozy rooms and a welcoming atmosphere.

2. Food Services:
– Appalachian Brewing Company: A local brewpub serving craft beers and delicious pub food.
– Market Cross Pub & Brewery: A popular spot for tasty food and a wide selection of beers.
– Molly Pitcher Waffle Shop: A classic diner offering hearty breakfast and lunch options.

3. Emergency Services:
– Carlisle Regional Medical Center: A nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.
– Carlisle Police Department: Local law enforcement agency ensuring safety and security in the area.
– Cumberland Valley Visitors Center: A resource center offering information and assistance to trail users.

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Difficulty Notes

The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 13 miles and features a relatively flat terrain, making it accessible for walkers, runners, and cyclists of all fitness levels. The well-maintained gravel surface provides a comfortable and stable path, allowing for an enjoyable experience. While there are some gentle inclines and declines along the trail, they are generally manageable for most individuals. Overall, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail offers a pleasant and accessible outdoor experience for individuals seeking a moderate level of difficulty.

Features And Attractions

Info not available.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and pedestrians should yield to horses and give them ample space.
4. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
5. No hunting or fishing is permitted along the trail.
6. Camping or overnight stays are not allowed.
7. Fires and open flames are prohibited.
8. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please use designated trash receptacles.
9. Respect private property adjacent to the trail and do not trespass.
10. Use caution and be aware of seasonal restrictions, such as closures during winter months or specific trail sections closed for maintenance.
11. Follow all posted signs and instructions from trail officials.
12. Be considerate of other trail users and maintain a safe and courteous environment.
13. Use the trail at your own risk; trail management is not responsible for any accidents or injuries.

Seasonal Information

The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, offering a scenic and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and blossoming trees, creating a picturesque and colorful landscape. The weather is usually mild and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking, biking, or simply strolling along the trail. Spring is also a great time for birdwatching, as many migratory birds make their way through the area.

Another great time to visit the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is in the fall, specifically during the months of September and October. The trail is transformed into a stunning display of autumn foliage, with vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The cool and crisp air adds to the overall charm of the trail, making it a perfect time for outdoor activities like hiking or cycling. Fall is also a popular time for photography enthusiasts, as the trail offers countless opportunities for capturing breathtaking shots of the changing leaves.

It’s important to note that the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail does not have any seasonal closures. It is open year-round, allowing visitors to enjoy its beauty and tranquility regardless of the season. However, it’s always a good idea to check the weather conditions and trail conditions before planning your visit, as heavy rain or snowfall may temporarily affect accessibility. Additionally, it’s advisable to bring appropriate gear and attire depending on the season, such as sunscreen and insect repellent in the summer, or warm layers and sturdy footwear in the winter.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trail Surface: The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail features a smooth and level surface, allowing easy navigation for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at various trailheads, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with proper facilities and features are provided along the trail for the convenience of all visitors.
4. Trailhead Accessibility: The trailheads are designed to be accessible, featuring ramps, curb cuts, and other accommodations for individuals with mobility challenges.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, allowing everyone to enjoy outdoor dining and relaxation.
6. Accessible Seating: Benches and seating areas along the trail are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, providing a comfortable resting spot.
7. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail, ensuring hydration for all visitors.
8. Signage and Wayfinding: Clear and visible signage with accessible formats and symbols are provided along the trail, aiding individuals with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities.
9. Accessible Trail Maps: Trail maps with accessible formats, such as large print or braille, are available to assist individuals with visual impairments.
10. Assistance Animals: The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail welcomes service animals, providing a safe and inclusive environment for individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Trail Conditions: Be aware of any trail closures, maintenance work, or hazardous conditions before starting your journey.
2. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly, as conditions can change rapidly.
3. Trail Etiquette: Respect other trail users by yielding to pedestrians, keeping pets on a leash, and using appropriate signals when passing.
4. Stay Hydrated: Carry enough water to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or long-distance rides.
5. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
6. Insect Repellent: Apply insect repellent to avoid bites from mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects.
7. Emergency Contacts: Carry a cell phone and have emergency contact numbers readily available.
8. First Aid Kit: Bring a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
9. Bike Maintenance: Ensure your bike is in good working condition, with properly inflated tires, functioning brakes, and lights if riding at night.
10. Trail Markers: Familiarize yourself with trail markers and signage to avoid getting lost.
11. Travel in Groups: Consider traveling with a buddy or in a group for added safety and security.
12. Be Visible: Wear bright or reflective clothing and use lights if riding during low-light conditions.
13. Wildlife Awareness: Respect the natural habitat and wildlife along the trail, keeping a safe distance and not feeding or disturbing animals.
14. Carry Identification: Have your identification, including any necessary medical information, with you in case of an emergency.
15. Plan Ahead: Inform someone of your planned route and estimated time of return, especially if going on a long-distance ride.
16. Stay Alert: Pay attention to your surroundings, including other trail users, road crossings, and potential hazards.
17. Use Caution at Road Crossings: Follow traffic rules and exercise caution when crossing roads or intersections along the trail.
18. Secure Valuables: Keep your belongings secure and out of sight to deter theft.
19. Respect Private Property: Stay on the designated trail and respect private property boundaries.
20. Follow COVID-19 Guidelines: Adhere to any local or state guidelines related to COVID-19, including social distancing and mask-wearing if required.

Conservation Notes

The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, located in south-central Pennsylvania, is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the region’s natural resources and biodiversity. As a designated rail trail, it follows the path of the former Cumberland Valley Railroad, which operated from the mid-19th century until the early 20th century. Today, the trail spans approximately 13 miles, offering a scenic and recreational corridor for hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts.

In terms of conservation status, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is recognized as an important ecological corridor, providing habitat connectivity for various plant and animal species. The trail traverses diverse landscapes, including woodlands, wetlands, and agricultural fields, which support a wide range of wildlife. These habitats are home to numerous bird species, such as warblers, sparrows, and raptors, making the trail a popular destination for birdwatching.

Efforts have been made to protect and enhance the conservation value of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. Local conservation organizations, in collaboration with government agencies, have implemented measures to restore and maintain the natural habitats along the trail. This includes invasive species management, reforestation initiatives, and the creation of pollinator-friendly gardens. Additionally, educational programs and interpretive signage are in place to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and encourage responsible trail use.

Overall, the conservation status of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is considered favorable, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts and the recognition of its ecological significance. By preserving and managing this valuable resource, the trail contributes to the protection of biodiversity, enhances recreational opportunities, and promotes a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

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