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Abandoned PA Turnpike Day Hike

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This day hike took place on Saturday, September 22, 2018. Participants were Terri Moore, Sarah Dill, Tom Stevenson and myself. As far as the distance goes other web sites said it was about 8.2 miles. Tom's Apple watch said it was 8.34 miles. And when you throw the GPS coordinates listed below into Google maps, it comes up with 8.6 miles.

Friday, September 21, 2018- Made the leisurely drive from Manassas, VA to Breezewood, PA in about 2.5 hours. I caught some rain on the way there but the sun came out shortly before I reached Breezewood. I drove past the Econolodge 3 times before I noticed it. I think their sign is too small. If you plan to stay in a motel the night before you do this hike I recommend the Quality Inn just north of the present day PA Turnpike on US30 over the Econolodge. It is better maintained, only costs about $10 more and is the closest motel to the western terminus of the Abandoned PA Turnpike.

Once I got settled into the motel I took a walk to the next door souvenir shop and then the TA truckstop across the street. I ate a roast beef sandwich, then walked about a half mile to the Abandoned PA turnpike western terminus. There were a few vehicles there. I took some pictures, then walked back to the motel and took a shower. I just chilled that afternoon. I talked to Tom at 6:00 PM as he was just starting out from Columbia, MD. So I went to the motel bar and had some chicken wings and a Yingling lager. Hmm, good! Tom got to the motel around 8ish. We went back to the bar, had another beer, then went back to the room and retired.

Saturday, September 22, 2018- We got up at 6:00 AM, showered, packed up, and went to breakfast. Tom said that the motel breakfast didn't look that great. So we walked across the street to Taco Bell, which was closed for some reason. Finally, we walked back across the street and had breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts, which was good.

We then loaded the vehicles, checked out of the motel and waited for Terri and Sarah. They showed up before 9:00 AM. We drove all three vehicles to the western terminus, drove my car around to the eastern terminus, then started the hike around 9:30 AM. Here are the GPS coordinates for each end of this 'trail': Western Terminus 39.999881, -78.228380 and the Eastern Terminus is 40.048683, -78.095839 .

The abandoned turnpike it self was paved. The pavement was showing various stages of decay. The westbound side of the former turnpike appeared to be more used than the eastbound side. We passed a large open paved area within the first mile that used to be a travel plaza. Then, after about 2 miles we came to the entrance of the Sidling Hill Tunnel.

You could not see the other side of the tunnel as it was about 1.5 miles long. My headlamp was not very useful in the tunnel for light. But my free Harbor Freight LED multi-light was very bright and worked well. This tunnel had a lot of grafitti on it. Some of it was graphic. When entering the tunnel you could see a number of sections where the rebar was showing through the concrete. There were chunks of concrete on the floor of the tunnel as well as chunks dangling from the ceiling. There were water leaks near the western side of this tunnel. We seemed to be passing more bicyclists than hikers.

When we emerged from the Sidling Hill tunnel we had about a 4 mile trek along the abandoned turnpike itself until we hit the next tunnel, which was Ray's Hill Tunnel. So we conversed along the way and talked about all sorts of stuff. The weather was in the high 60's and cloudy. This was perfect hiking weather!

When we finally reached the eastern side of Ray's Hill tunnel there were about 30 people milling around the entrance. Most were on bikes. There were all age ranges of people on the 'trail', which I thought was great. One of the people that passed us on a bike got a flat tire just before the Ray's Hill tunnel. And we passed another bicyclist that got a flat just after the Ray's Hill Tunnel. So our concern about possibly getting a flat due to glass on the ground and in the tunnels if we rode bikes was warranted.

When we got to the western side of the Ray's Hill tunnel, which was only about a half mile long, we knew that we only had about a mile or less of walking until we got back to the vehicles. So we conversed some more along the way and said hi to the increasing number of people that we were passing. Then we passed a yellow gate, went down a hill, got back to our vehicles and the hike was over at around 1:30 PM. Terri and Sarah left to go back to east central PA, Tom and I went to the Pizza Hut in Breezewood, PA, had lunch, and then parted ways and went home to MD and VA respectively.

This was an enjoyable hike. It's amazing that one is even able to hike this abandoned section of the PA Turnpike. I won't go into the history of this section or how it got to be abandoned. But from what I have read and heard, this 'trail' is now or will shortly be owned by Bedford County, PA. They plan to get some grant money to fix up the area and make it a park. The group will maintain it.

From what I observed today I think that it is going to take a lot of money to do shoring up and rehabilitation of these tunnels so that future generations will be able to enjoy this hike. We're talking millions of dollars here. I'm not sure where this money is going to come from.

It's been almost 60 years since this section of the turnpike has been abandoned with no maintenence done on it. So I don't think that these tunnels can go another 60 years before some catastrophic event like a cave-in occurs in one of them. What will they do then? Close the whole 'trail'? Reroute the 'trail' over the tunnels if they have to close them? I don't know. But I do know that this is a neat place to explore and ask the reader to please explore it while you still have the chance.

Mike C

More Images

Group picture at beginning of hike
  Group picture at beginning of hike.
   By Mike Calabrese
Grafitti on Jersey barrier
  Grafitti on Jersey barrier.
   By Mike Calabrese
Abandoned PA TPKE 'Trail'   Abandoned PA TPKE 'Trail'.
   By Mike Calabrese
Sidling Hill Tunnel, east side   Sidling Hill Tunnel, east side.
   By Mike Calabrese
Closeup of Sidling Hill Tunnel
  Closeup of Sidling Hill Tunnel.
   By Mike Calabrese
Grafitti on W side of Sidling Hill Tunnel   Grafitti, W side, Sidling Hill Tunnel.
   By Mike Calabrese
No Trespassing, Violators Prosecuted
  No Trespassing, Violators Prosecuted.
   By Mike Calabrese
Sidling Hill Tunnel, west side
  Sidling Hill Tunnel, west side.
   By Mike Calabrese
Decaying asphalt along the 'trail'
  Decaying asphalt along the 'trail'.
   By Mike Calabrese

  Sarah & Terri approach Rays Hill Tunnel
  Sarah & Terri approach Rays Hill
  Tunnel.  By Mike Calabrese

  Eastern side, Rays Hill Tunnel
  Eastern side, Rays Hill Tunnel.
  By Mike Calabrese

  Approaching western side, Rays Hill Tunnel
  Approaching western side, Rays Hill
  Tunnel.  By Mike Calabrese

  Grafitti, western end, Rays Hill Tunnel
  Grafitti, western end, Rays Hill
  Tunnel. By Mike Calabrese

  Western end, Rays Hill Trail
  Western end, Rays Hill Trail.
  By Mike Calabrese

  Between Rays Hill & western terminus
  Between Rays Hill & western
  terminus.  By Mike Calabrese

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