You can walk and stroll on some of the world’s best trails right here in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region! The International Mountain Biking Association has designated the 125 miles of trails in the region, which interconnect 5 major nature preserves as a Ride Center, one of only 37 in the world, and the only one in the Northeast. These are places where mountain bikers can thrill to a great downhill gravity ride! Or power their way past serene lakes and gently flowing waterfalls! They can also join the many mountain bike races here every year, to compete with fellow bikers to a photo finish! The Ride Center designation represents the International Mountain Biking Association’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale trail facilities that offer something for every rider. Trails range from backcountry adventures to expert-only and family-friendly trails, the best the area has to offer.
That means, the trails, which can all be accessed from the Schuylkill River Trail, that nature lovers without bikes can also hike or stroll on many of the trails, including Neversink Mountain for breathtaking views from City Overlook, and the Loop Trail that circles Blue Marsh Lake. There’s nearly 35 miles of trails in French Creek State Park, including walking trails circling two lakes there as well. Mount Penn, the nature preserve that surrounds the Pagoda, delivers some astounding views from a perch high above the city. And last but not least, Antietam Lake Park hosts trails that circle the lake and meander through the property.
The five preserves interconnected by Ride Center Trails include:
French Creek State Park: Straddling the Schuylkill Highlands, it’s hard to imagine this beautiful 7,730 acre park filled with forest and wildlife once served as the clear cut woodlands that provided charcoal to power the Hopewell Iron Furnace, which produced iron for cannons during the American Revolution. Today the fully restored, forested environment is designated an Important Bird and Mammal Area by the National Audubon Society. Scotts Run and Hopewell lakes are both great for fishing, if you want to throw in a line and relax on the bank.
Neversink Mountain: Berks Nature has captured nearly 500 acres of nearly 900-acre Neversink Mountain, stretching from one end of the mountain to the other. The area is netted with interconnected trails, of varying degrees of difficulty.
Mount Penn Nature Preserve: A series of trails cover Mount Penn, some very difficult, others easy to walk. Each obstacle or drop on a trail has a ride/walk around or alternative route, making the trails accessible for hikes as well as biking.
Blue Marsh Lake Recreation Area: Before the Army Corp of Engineers dammed Tuplehocken Creek, the area regularly flooded, causing untold property damage and hardship. The now contained creek has morphed into beautiful Blue Marsh Lake with a loop trail that circles the entire body of water, including Skinners Loop and the Foxtrot Trail which bring you close to water’s edge. Two universally accessible trails, Eyes of the Eagle Sensory Trail and the Great Oak Nature Trail are also available to those with handicaps. These trails connect with the Berks County Park and Recreation Trail system, which includes Antietam Lake.
Antietam Lake Park: 643 acres are covered with trails, waterfalls and other natural features. There are plans to gradually increase the size of the lake, as well as greatly expand the available trails.