A group of rail bikers on a tour in York County. A rail bike being pedaled on a railroad in York County. Rail biking — pedaling a steel-wheeled platform on railroad tracks — is a new outdoors pastime sweeping the country, and two of the three places to do it in Pennsylvania are located next to Lancaster County.
Both York and Berks counties have opened rail biking experiences in which people of all ages can pedal leisurely through the countryside and historic landscapes.
I recently traveled to western Maryland for my first rail biking trip and was totally smitten. My wife and I sat upright in seats cannibalized from a boat that were mounted on an open-air aluminum platform fitted with four steel wheels. We propelled ourselves forward with bicycle pedals and braked when necessary with hand brakes made for motorcycles.
For 10 miles, about 30 of us, spaced apart, rode on rails laid 175 years ago. Unlike riding a bike, we didn’t have to steer or keep our balance, freeing us to admire the mountains and wooded ravines on each side.
A refreshing breeze from riding the rails countered the hot summer air and the metal wheels clickety-clacked over the rail joint, just like being on a train. The rhythmic movements lulled us into serenity.
Many of the rail biking excursions sprouting across the country share the tracks with vintage railroad trips that have been operating for years, though some follow abandoned rail corridors.
To my mind, late summer and the upcoming autumn foliage […]