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History and Nature Come Together on This Rail Trail

The Switchback Railroad Trail connects Summit Hill and Jim Thorpe. It consists of two nine-mile trails that are ideal for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Both trails travel down the mountain and end right in the heart of Jim Thorpe. It’s an easy trip if you travel downhill, but if you really want to feel the burn, try going back up!

The trail has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. It was originally a railroad bed where trains hauled coal from the mines to the Lehigh Canal. Later, it became a tourist attraction. Thrill-seeking visitors rode the train as it sped downhill like an early version of a roller coaster.

The Switchback Railroad Trail begins in Summit Hill at the end of Stoney Lonesome Road. After about five miles, the trail splits into two. The trail on the right is a smoother, easier ride that leads through the forest and passes Mauch Chunk Lake Park (which is a great spot for a picnic lunch). This portion of the trail ends on Church Alley in Jim Thorpe. If you choose the trail on the left, you’re in for a challenge. This side is rockier and better suited for mountain bikes. The right-side trail ends on North Avenue in Jim Thorpe.