Making tracks to gentle trails, friendly folks

Pennsylvania: Bicyclists are generously catered to at Cycle Inn, which is within easy road-trip distance.

Short Hop

June 11, 2000|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,Sun Staff

Sunday morning, simple pleasures: A family bicycling trip along the edge of a cool river, a smooth trail cutting between neatly planted rows of leafy trees. Our 4-year-old gestured grandly from her seat on the trailer behind my husband's bike, hand-hewn willow bracelets fluttering on her arm.

Our 6-year-old, digging his heels into the pedals on his 7-speed, zoomed ahead. About three miles from the 150-year-old farmhouse where we'd spent the night, we turned into the trailhead and parked our bikes in a quaint town park. Artists and crafters were setting up for a festival along Main Street.

We weren't in Belgium, New Zealand or Vermont. We were a hop and a skip away in York, Pa., northern terminus of the Heritage Rail Trail. At the Maryland state line, the trail links with the Northern Central Railroad Trail, which extends to Cockeysville in Baltimore County.

Together, the two trails offer cyclists 41 miles of rolling, gentle ride. If you've ever wanted to take a long ride but feared not getting back before dusk, Cycle Inn bed and breakfast near York is a place to kick off your sneakers and relax at the end of the ride.

The B&B's slogan sums up the possibilities: "Cycle Inn, but you can drive in, too." And you don't have to be long-distance cyclists. The B&B's central location near the Days Mill Road trail entrance offers short trips, too, for families and novice cyclists.

Being inexperienced cyclists, our family was easily distracted packing helmets, books, binoculars, snuggle-blankets, sunscreen and fanny packs. We forgot the water bottles, and never got as far as planning snacks -- two musts for trail riding.

Happily it wasn't a problem when we arrived at the B&B. Our hosts, Tom and Karen Powers, provided Gatorade, gorp (a k a trail mix) and a map (with comprehensive directions) before sending us on our way.

For Tom and Karen, it's all part of catering to cyclists. They opened their B&B about 18 months ago, hoping to share their bicycling passion with other riders and their families.

They use the trail regularly, on single and family rides and excursions with Scout troops. Their school-age children, Tommy, Mary Alice and Davis, are avid riders, too. Davis, 7, learned to ride on the trail after his family moved to York from New York in the mid-1990s.

On a visit before the move, Tom rode part of the Heritage trail and was enthralled with the possibilities -- maybe the family could run a fruit stand along the trail or a youth hostel. But when he and Karen found the white brick farmhouse on Days Mill Road, about 17 miles north of the state line, they knew B&B was the way to go.

"Always, the idea was to be by the trail," says Karen.

The couple converted two rooms into spacious guest quarters on each end of the first floor of the house. Each has a private entrance from a back deck.

We stayed in the Velo Suite, named for the Velodrome, an indoor cycling track in Allentown, Pa. The spacious, L-shaped room has a private bath, bunk beds, queen bed and sleeper sofa. We had a quiet place for reading in an adjoining sitting room off the kitchen and dining room.

For traveling families that steer clear of curio-laden guesthouses, Cycle Inn is comfortable and inviting. Cycling memorabilia, historical photos, posters and even a nifty red tyke bike are all displayed creatively on walls, in nooks and cabinets, most safely out of reach of curious hands.

The home sits on an acre of land, with a well-tended garden, pool and hot tub. After a ride, the tree-shaded deck stretching across the back of the house is a lovely place to relax and ponder the posies growing out of a pair of work boots by the door.

Trail options

Along the 21-mile Heritage trail, riders can find Civil War history, antiques, fishing and a variety of attractions in York.

Our first day out, we decided to try a 12-mile round-trip ride, with a stop halfway for lunch.

The B&B is about a quarter-mile from the Days Mill Road entrance to the trail. We rode cautiously, adults at each end, children in the middle, because the road can be busy during the day.

The trip meandered south, past barns, fowl cages, historic train stations, and through the almost-180-year-old Howard Tunnel. Here, trail parallels rail. The Northern Central Railroad, an important link for parcels and passengers between Baltimore and York from 1838 to 1972, is used today primarily by the Liberty Limited dinner train.

The rail trail splits woods into long stretches of leafy canopy. Benches, shelters and portable toilets at regular intervals offer rest for riders.

Towns such as Railroad, Glen Rock and New Freedom dot the trail and supply more options for food and diversions. We passed over branches of Codurus Creek and by fields and pastures. Purple and white wildflowers colored the edges of the crushed limestone path as we passed the gates at Brillhart and Glatfelters stations.

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