The Hanover Trolley Trail is one of the lesser recognized projects of the York County Rail Trail Authority (YCRTA). While this trail was only started a few years ago, the elder Heritage Rail Trail County Park gets much more attention, as it was completed in 1999. I recently wrote about the history of this trolley line, and the project to turn it into a trail.
I recently took some time to experience the Spring Grove – Jackson Township portion of the Hanover Trolley Trail, which is currently approx. 3/4 miles long. An extension is currently being worked on, which will expand this portion to approx. 1.5 miles. I started at the Hershey Road parking area in Jackson Township, and another parking area can be found on the other end of the trail on Hosiery Alley in Spring Grove.
As I started walking, I noticed the trail was extremely well-maintained. A wide, flat gravel path greets visitors who come to walk, jog, or bicycle. The edge of the trail is primarily grass, but beyond that it is wooded area with occasional wildflowers appearing. During the time I spend walking the trail, I was able to see a variety of birds, and had a few groundhogs and a red fox cross my path.
Along the trail you will encounter 2 sets of intersecting railroad tracks and a metal bridge, which I thought had an industrial look to it. The lower set of tracks is no longer used, but the upper set sees railroad traffic daily. Graffiti covers parts of the bridge, and some graffiti markings – Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden – were most likely placed there years ago. There were no evident signs that the area is still frequented by vandals.
Once I passed underneath the bridge, it was only a few hundred feet until I was at the end of the trail at Hosiery Alley in Spring Grove. The scenery changes when you pass the bridge, and you now can see the Glatfelter paper mill, a bus terminal for the local school district, and houses on the outskirts of town.
Once my walk to the other end of the trail was complete, I stopped to rest as the morning sun was beginning to break through the clouds. A worker on a a small piece of excavating equipment shut off his machine and took a few minutes to talk to me. We talked about the trail and railroad line, and I learned he had an interest in photography as well. After our conversation ended, it was time for him to go back to work, and me to retrace my steps to see what I might encounter on the return trip on the trail. I couldn’t wait.
My experience with the Spring Grove – Jackson Township portion of the Hanover Trolley Trail was extremely pleasing. On the weekday morning I was there, I only encountered 3 other patrons using the trail. Because of the proximity of the trail to the Glatfelter plant, I am sure workers frequent the trail during lunch breaks.
There are benches at either end for those who may want to rest, but the YCRTA should consider adding one at the halfway point of this section for those who may want to sit and enjoy the scenery. At the Hershey Road parking area is a very nice covered picnic table, built to allow guests in wheelchairs a place to pull up to the table. While there were some wildflowers along the way, it would be great if more varieties could be added.
If you are in the Spring Grove area and have some extra time, stop by this section of the Hanover Trolley Trail. It’s a quiet place to gather your thoughts, have a picnic, spend time with family or friends, and enjoy a bit of nature.
Directions to parking areas for the Hanover Trolley Trail (Spring Grove – Jackson Township portion):
Hershey Road: From Rt. 116 east of Spring Grove, turn onto Sprenkle Road (at Hardees and Tom’s). Proceed approx. 1/2 mile and turn right onto Hershey Road. Parking is on the right.
Hosiery Alley: Turn onto East Constitution Avenue in Spring Grove. Parking area is a few blocks straight ahead, just past Hosiery Alley.
The final part of this blog series will detail my visit to the Hanover portion of the Hanover Trolley Trail.