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Switchback Trail Professional Review and Guide
"The Switchback Trail follows the old Switchback Gravity Railroad line from Summit Hill to the Lehigh River Canal. Carbon County and the Federal Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service developed the Switchback Trail to link all of the wonderful recreational activities in the Jim Thorpe area. Along the trail are many places to stop and enjoy the natural scenic beauty of the area, so take your time and enjoy all the things that this beautiful recreational trail has to offer. Terrain: singletrack, doubletrack, paved and gravel roads. Most of the riding is on a flat recreational road."
--Bob D'Antonio, Mountain Biking the Greater Philadelphia Area (Falcon Guides).
We hiked the Switchback Trail in mid-October on a chilly but absolutely perfect Saturday morning. We left from the park office were we pickup up a trail map and parked our SUV. Thought it measures approximately nine miles from one end to the other we picked up the down-track across from the main entrance to the park a third of the way between Jim Thorpe and Mount Jefferson in Summit Hill and headed Southwest. The old gravity rail grade is wide and clear and makes for a great trail for hiking & mountain biking and easily shared by both. According to my GPS we hiked 1.62 miles and went from an elevation 1,081ft to 1,270 at the turnaround. The grade was gradual and steady and really not even noticeable as we hiked along. The trail is not marked, nor need it be, other than a historical marker sign at the Five-Mile Tree Crossing where the uphill track crosses and ascends to Mount Pisgah Northwest of Jim Thorpe. There is a picnic table and a little area where you can just sit and enjoy the view and a small spring that flows off the steep hillside to the Northwest at about 1.3 miles. We enjoyed this trail so much that we’re definitely going back in the Winter and since ATV & snowmobiles are prohibited this will be the perfect winter track to do some x-country & showshoeing. This trail definitely gets and A+.
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