Switchback Gravity Railroad

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

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4 Reviews
4 out of 5
This outstanding, classic ride covers a huge section of the historic Switchback Gravity Railroad. Built in the early 1800s, this monumental system of gently sloping pathways was designed to haul coal from the massive anthracite mine on Summit Hill down to the Lehigh Canal. As the coal mine became depleted, the railroad saw little use and in 1872 it was converted to a popular tourist attraction (second only to Niagara Falls!)—a sight-seeing natural roller-coaster. After 60 years of service the attraction was sold for scrap, and all that remained was the coal-cinder pathway. Many years later it is a fine recreation trail, linking Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill to the overlook on Mount Pisgah. Highlights: a ride along the historic Switchback Gravity Railroad, old open mine shaft, incredible views of the Lehigh Gorge and Jim Thorpe; Mauch Chunk County Park amenities include camping, fishing, swimming, boating, food and boat concessions. Tread: cinder rail-trail with a few sections of scattered rocks and a short section of old woods road.

Switchback Gravity Railroad Professional Review and Guide

"This outstanding, classic ride covers a huge section of the historic Switchback Gravity Railroad. Built in the early 1800s, this monumental system of gently sloping pathways was designed to haul coal from the massive anthracite mine on Summit Hill down to the Lehigh Canal. As the coal mine became depleted, the railroad saw little use and in 1872 it was converted to a popular tourist attraction (second only to Niagara Falls!)—a sight-seeing natural roller-coaster. After 60 years of service the attraction was sold for scrap, and all that remained was the coal-cinder pathway.

Many years later it is a fine recreation trail, linking Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill to the overlook on Mount Pisgah. Highlights: a ride along the historic Switchback Gravity Railroad, old open mine shaft, incredible views of the Lehigh Gorge and Jim Thorpe; Mauch Chunk County Park amenities include camping, fishing, swimming, boating, food and boat concessions. Tread: cinder rail-trail with a few sections of scattered rocks and a short section of old woods road."

Activity Type: Mountain Biking
Nearby City: Jim Thorpe
Distance: 16.1
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Technical Difficulty: Easy
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 1 - 4 hours
Trailhead Elevation: 1,000 feet
Top Elevation: 1,500 feet
Local Contacts: Mauch Chunk County Parks
Local Maps: USGS Nesquehoning
Driving Directions: Directions to Switchback Gravity Railroad

Recent Trail Reviews

9/20/2009
0

We had a gret time along this trail, nice view's, not hard to bike from Summit hill to Jim Thorpe, want a challenge go the opposite direction. Took 3 others along, they all had a good time. I rate the trail very easy good for all biker's.


8/14/2008
0

9/3/2005
0

My girlfriend and I took this trip on a weekend, getting an early start, and found it to be a very enjoyable ride. The beginning portion of the trail is cindered and smooth, with little other "traffic" encountered. The switchback part of the trail was much rougher and narrower, but the incline was moderate and the views were very good. The crossing of the open pit portion of the trail required that caution be exercised but added an extra bit of challenge to the ride. The return portion was great as the gravity that was fought on the way up was a firend on the way back. Great ride.


8/16/2005
0

This trail is excellent. However if you choose to use the optional return to Jim Thorpe, the trail has suffered from the heavy rains of the past year. Use great care when transversing the mountain toward Jim Thorpe past the stone abutments. You will have to carry your bike for a short distance, but the view is worth it. The main trail is in good to great shape.



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May 2018