On Sunday, Oct. 18, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will be opening up the Stony Valley Rail Trail to motor vehicles for the annual State Game Lands Driving Tour, reversing an earlier decision to cancel this year’s tour.
The land on the northwest edge of Lebanon County is known as Game Lands #211 according to the State; Saint Anthony’s Wilderness to the original Moravian settlers; and Stony Valley to the rest of us. At one time the towns of Cold Springs and Rausch Gap sat in this area along the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad, which first cleared the trail bed used by the Rail Trail today. Ruins of these settlements can still be found in the woods, including a cemetery, a hotel, and more.
Though the Commission had initially decided to cancel this year’s tour owing to the road’s narrowness and the crowd numbers of previous years (in the thousands), the Commission told PennLive that “[w]ith further review, we determined the tour, in fact, safely could be held while still complying with the Governor’s guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we hope those who attend will enjoy it.”
The Ellendale Gate along Stony Valley Road will open up for drives through Game Lands #211. The journey through to Gold Mine Road should last around two hours (17 miles). Check the weather before you head out—although the path is groomed, conditions may vary depending on weather and wetness.
A second tour through State Game Lands #110 in Berks County begins at the Mountain Road gate and goes through to the State Route 183 gate, four miles north of Strausstown.
Gates for both tours will open at 9:00 a.m. Sunday and stay open until 3:00 p.m. Enter these coordinates in your GPS to reach the Ellendale Gate: 40.402255, -76.8378661.
Here’s what you’ll see on the drive.
This graphic showing landmarks of the Rail Trail was created by Stony Valley Historian Brandy M. Watts.
While in the area, you may also want to take time to go see the Boxcar Rocks formation, which are in the vicinity of the end of the Rail Trail off of Gold Mine Road.
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