The West Reading Neversink Mountain Loop is one of, if not most, popular in the Reading Area. Starting and ending in the heart of downtown West Reading, this ride features mostly flat, traffic-free miles on the Schuylkill River Rail Trail and Exeter Scenic Trail, topped off by a short rocky climb then a gradual climb on a historic rail bed to a spectacular payoff at the Neversink South Scenic Overlook. A short, wide open descent brings you back to the city of Reading and then a converted railway pedestrian bridge back to West Reading.
From I-76 exit onto rt. 422 east, go 1.0 mile to the Mt. Penn exit, go right onto East Neversink Rd., go 0.6 mile to Klapperthal Rd., turn left and go 0.4 mile to gate #5 trail head.
Trailheads & Parking
- Brentwood Lot – 650 Morgantown Road Reading, PA 19611
- Klapperthal Lot – 601 Klapperthal Rd. Reading, Pa. 19606
- Pavilion – 1998 Highland Ave, Reading, PA 19606
- 15th St. Parking – 633 S. 15th St. Reading, PA 19606
Restaurants and Refreshments
Penn Avenue is where you can stop for coffee at the beginning of your ride, or return later for shopping, dining, and craft beer, wine and spirits tasting.
Mile 0 – 1.7
West Reading has a very popular main street with locally owned shops, restaurants, pubs and craft breweries along Penn Avenue, so we are going to start the ride at the Candlewood Suites conveniently located in West Reading at 55 South 3rd Avenue.
Directly across the street from the Candlewood Suites is the beginning of Cherry Street, also known as Mural Alley. Mural Alley is the brainchild of Wyomissing High School art teacher Mike Miller and co-sponsored by the West Reading Main Street Program. Mike Miller enlists the help, creativity and teamwork of area art students to create works of art along a 4 block stretch of this alley.
Now that you have seen some sights and whet your appetite for later, it’s time to start riding. This next section of the ride takes you through the streets of West Reading, past the Reading Hospital and Reading Public Museum, and to the Thun section of the Schuylkill River Rail Trail.
Mile 1.7 – 3.2
The Thun trail section has a surface of crushed gravel which drains quickly. At Mile 3.1 you will see the back of Trooper Thorn’s Ale House, which has a back deck open in the summer months. About 6 block’s away from Trooper’s is Oakbrook Brewing, which is in a restored old fire house that opens their garage door in warm weather. The easy version of this loop is an out and back on the rail trail, so if you are riding that version, Troopers or Oakbrook is a great place to stop for a beer and a bite. At Mile 3.2 you will reach the Brentwood trailhead parking lot, which is adjacent to a huge mural depicting features of Reading and Berks County on the side of a factory across the street.
Mile 3.2 – 5.5
After the Brentwood trailhead parking lot you will travel over two railroad bridges with scenic views of Neversink Mountain above you to the left, and the Schuylkill River far below you on both sides. If you look up at Neversink and can see a break in the trees in the subtle form of a horizontal line running across the mountain, you will soon be up there.
Mile 5.5 – 7.2
At mile 5.5 you will come to a road crossing on route 724. Be careful here as traffic is fast and cars usually do not stop for pedestrians despite ample signage recently installed at the crossing. About 50 yards after the crossing you will see a trailside bench and landscaped stairs leading to the small creek below. The creek runs through an aqueduct which is similar in construction to the nearby Allegheny Aqueduct Historical Park off of Old River Road. At Mile 7.2 the unpaved portion of the Schuylkill River Trail comes to an end at Gibraltar Road.
Mile 7.2 – 10.3
When you come to Gibraltar Road you will turn left and cross over railroad tracks, and Route 724 again at a traffic light. Down Gibraltar Road crossing a bridge over the Schuylkill you will come to the entrance of the Exeter Scenic trail across the road on your left. Watch for traffic as you cross. You are allowed by law to move over and take up the middle of the lane before your left turn to indicate that you are turning when it is safe to do so.
Easy Option: When you come to the Gibraltar Road intersection, now is the time to turn around if you only want to ride smooth flat surfaces. Don’t forget to stop at Trooper’s or Oakbrook on your way back!
The Exeter Scenic trail is smooth flat rail trail with a small pedestrian bridge, a brief small downhill with a few rocks, and a short steep paved uphill with a bench with a view of the river, a nice place to take a break before starting the climb up Neversink Mountain. At mile 10.3 you will encounter a colorful tunnel.
Mile 10.3 – 10.7
This s stretch of the ride is the steepest, rockiest, most challenging part of the ride. It is less than a half mile and if you find it to challenging, there is certainly no shame in walking your bike up it with the goal of getting to the scenic overlook. This is the Klapperthal trail. Riding, or walking, through the tunnel you will find shallow running water down the center at most parts of the year, and a muddy exit. Further of the climb you will see Forest Hills Cemetary with its decorative fountain. Next you will pass a small parking lot with boulders as a barrier between the lot and the trail. The boulders feature stenciled artwork by who else, Mike Miller.
Farther up the climb you will come to three newly installed pedestrian bridges by the Berks Area Mountain Bike Association (BAMBA). Trail improvements are responsible for getting the Greater Reading Trails designated as a bronze level mountain biking destination by the International Mountain Biking Association.
Cross the first bridge and then take a left turn over the second bridge. You are now on the Neversink South Trail.
Mile 10.7 – 11.2
The Neversink South Trail and The Neversink North Trail are remnants of a narrow guage railroad that took tourists to several grand hotels built on Neversink in the late 1800’s. As a resilt the grade is relatively gradual and consistent. At Mile 11.2 you will come to the Neversink South Scenic Overlook. The view is majestic of the valley and river below.
Mile 11.2 – 13.6
After spending time and snapping a photo at the overlook you’ll continue on the trail until you reach a fork in the trail at mile 11.9. The single track trail to the right connects to several technical and steep mountain bike trails on Neversink. You will continue through the wide open dirt road to the left through the construction dump. At mile 12.4 you will reach a gate across the dirt road that leads out to South 9th Street.
Down South 9th Street you will eventually return to civilization and take the first Left on Laurel Street, then the first left on South 7th Street. The second right turn onto Canal Street will bring you to the Canal Street Pub & Restaurant. Canal Street has a great selection of craft beer and an expansive menu. They are also bike friendly, you can even take your bike inside and park it next to the pool tables.
Mile 13.6 – 15.2
After your stop continue on Canal Street and turn left on Riverfront Drive at mile 14.3. At mile 14.7 look for a macadam path that leads to a converted railroad connector bridge over the Schuylkill River. This bridge will take you back to where you started on the Thun Trail at mile 15.2. From there retrace your tracks back through the streets of West Reading to your hotel or wherever you may want to go to on Penn Avenue.