Self-Guided Bike Tour to York
It’s a Long Bike Ride to Yorktown
“Ride up, stay overnight, and ride back again,” he told me. The trip sounded like a perfect way to finish up my summer season. I started planning right away.
I started my trip at Monkton, Maryland
The North Central Railroad Trail, (NCR), is a rails-to-trails pedestrian, horse, and bike-friendly path which originates in Baltimore’s northern suburbs and heads north to Pennsylvania. Riding bikes on the NCR Trail is easy for any age or activity level because of its flat terrain.
Monkton Station is easily accessible from Highway 83. A convenient parking lot at the Station is next to the trail was a safe place to leave my car.
Taking my time along the trail was easy because the scenery was so captivating. Huge, craggy rock outcroppings loomed on treed hillsides. Loud waterfalls spilled over rocks in the Gunpowder Falls River. At one point, the land spread out into lush green cow pastures complete with a red barn to punctuate the scene. At an intersection where I stopped to rest, three small goats rushed over to me as I leaned on the fence of their pasture, and one long-horned guy nibbled on my camera strap.
Crossing State Line
Once I passed over the Pennsylvania line, where the trail’s name changes to The Heritage Rail Trail, I rode into the Howard Tunnel cut through a mountain while tall pines and maples came into view out the far end.
I waved at folks sitting on their front porch, mere feet from the trail in a tiny dot of a town called Freeland. After 25 miles of riding and ten miles outside of York, the trail filled up with folks out enjoying the warm autumn day.
Once in York’s downtown, the trail continued along the Susquehanna River and ended at the tiny Heritage Rail Trail County Park. Across the street was a rustic clapboard-sided building, built in 1741 as the Golden Plough Tavern. This was my first taste of historical significance of York, and certainly not the last.
York and the Yorktowne Hotel
Three short blocks along ample and tidy sidewalks, I arrived at The Yorktowne Hotel, a grand-old-gal-of-a-place in the heart of York’s historic district, at 48 East Market Street.
York is a city of 44,000 people, small enough to feel the connection of community. Within walking distance from The Yorktowne Hotel there are enough attractions, museums and eateries to keep you busy for a day or two. Plan at least two nights at the Yorktowne so you’ll have one full day to discover this friendly city.
Architecturally beautiful bay windows decorate most upper floors along the city streets, signifying a robust residential population. A mixture of classic colonial and more contemporary buildings is found along each tree-lined avenue, inviting you to keep looking, keep discovering the next colorful window or wrought iron-benched alleyway. At 21, the city holds more murals than any other city in the east.
Stop in Maewyn’s Pub at 110 N. George Street, just three blocks from The Yorktowne, and enjoy a draft or meal served by young women and men in kilts. Not in the mood for Irish? Find many cafes, farm produce and crafts under one roof at the Central Market, doing business since 1887.
What to do while in York – all within walking distance from The Yorktowne Hotel:
1. Revolution Baseball. A short walk brings you to the home stadium of York’s minor league team which plays May through September.
2. Agricultural and Historical Museum. York is a manufacturing center and as such, the museum houses machinery, vehicles and gadgets.
3. Central Market. Farmer’s market and restaurants galore. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
4. Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. The gorgeous frescoed lobby welcomes all to experience concerts, performances, and art-house movies.
5. York is the “Factory tour capitol of the world”. Visit Harley-Davidson, Snyder’s of Hanover, and 20 more.
Everywhere I went, welcoming smiles and enthusiastic conversation followed. My time in York seemed way too short when at last I mounted my bike and headed back home down the bicycle trail.
Biking and Walking York
Map of the bike trail: http://www.bikewashington.org/trails/ncr/ncr.htm
Josie Schneider is an international house sitter and freelance writer. She blogs about house sitting, travel, good food and wine and all the things that make travel fabulous. http://www.housesittingtravel.com
Photos by Conrad Knutsen