Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gravity Railroad Reading PA

Today's hike featured an out and back on the Gravity Trail starting and ending at The Pagoda in Reading, PA. Last April I hiked Mt. Penn to the Pagoda and then followed the Ferndale Trail The Ferndale Trail travels with the Gravity Trail for a part of it's trip in a 'northerly' direction. 

The Gravity Trail follows in the 'rail' steps of the Gravity Railroad which ran an 8.5 mile round trip of the mountain. You can read more about the Gravity Railroad and its history here. The railroad took passengers through picnic grounds, near hotels, vineyards and more. 

When I first picked this as my hike destination I had plans to hike 'south' toward the city then turnaround and go 'north' as far as Antietem Lake and back. The weather however changed that. In fact, the weather almost kept me home. The forecasts were calling for thunderstorms of varying descriptions all week; from scattered, to isolated to just plain storms.The only constant was 'some may be severe'. Given the high humidity today and the call for cooler weather tomorrow, severe was easy to believe. However, the arrival time of the storms kept getting moved later so I decided to go for it. Still the soupiness of the day - it was 99% humidity I'm sure - did cause me to cut the hike in half. I was drenched inside of 10 minutes and if I had any inclination to keep going when I approached the return spur to my car, the bugs encouraged me to stop. Despite all that I had a great time. 

There is a lot of history still along this trail. 

This building is now the East End Athletic Club built around the remains of the Mineral Springs Hotel.

Here is a photo I took of the Spring House remains next to the hotel. 

Here is a photo I took of the area just to the right of the Spring House today

I didn't hike as far as planned today. It seemed like a long way to drive (1 hour and 15 minutes give or take) for a 4-5 mile hike but it was totally worth it. Plus I like to drive so that wasn't a chore. As it was, I missed a turn on the way up to the Pagoda (the street sign was missing) and ended up at Antietem Lake, where the Gravity Trail should come out according to the maps. I'm pretty sure I found the parking area marked on the trail map but I could not see the trail markers. However, I was driving windy roads trying to avoid an accident. If I parked I probably could find it. I'm thinking that may be the place to start to do the second half of the hike I didn't do today. :) 

Keep smiling and Keep moving