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Covered Bridges to See by Trail

September 18, 2019 12:00 AM
By: DCNR

Covered Bridges to See by Trail

​Pennsylvania’s scenic landscape contains rich history that can still be seen and appreciated today. Home to more than 200 covered bridges, it’s easy to combine enjoying the outdoors with a visit to these historic and romantic structures.

It is estimated that there are less than 1,000 covered bridges across the country, with Pennsylvania leading the count. These wooden marvels can be found in more than half of Pennsylvania’s counties.

There’s a lot of speculation why these structures were built. Most popular are that they were built to protect the structure from weather deterioration, shield travelers from weather, and prevent livestock from shying away from crossing waterways.

Whatever the reason, these wooden bridges add to the commonwealth’s unique and stunning scenery -- especially during the fall against a colorful background.

Covered bridges are great for slowing down, photographing, and exploring while you are out enjoying the sights and sounds on Pennsylvania trails in the fall.

Explore PA Trails and Covered Bridges

Take in covered bridges on your next outdoor adventure. Check out some of the bridges you can visit while enjoying Pennsylvania trails:

Historic Covered Bridges on Trails

There’s nothing better than taking in a historic covered bridge among Pennsylvania’s beautiful natural places. Check out these historic bridges along a trail:

Covered Bridge Trail

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The Geiger Covered Bridge, a historic 112-foot-long bridge constructed in 1860, crosses over Jordan Creek in Bucks County; and can be accessed via the Covered Bridge Trail -- a 2.4-mile loop trail in the Trexler Nature Preserve. The trail is good for all skill levels, is ADA-accessible, and offers a number of activity options. Dogs and horses also are able to use this trail.

Forbidden Drive

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In the northern reaches of Fairmount Park, located in the Wissahickon Gorge area of Philadelphia, the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge provides the sense of being far removed from the city -- yet sits within the city limits. It is said to be the only covered bridge remaining in a major American city.

The 86-foot bridge crosses the Wissahickon Creek and was built in 1855. The bridge can be reached from Forbidden Drive (2018 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year), a flat, multi-use walking/bike path that follows the Wissahickon Creek for 8 miles. The bridge also can be reached by taking the Orange Trail -- a hiking path that is also used my mountain bikers. The Wissahickon Valley Park section houses miles of trails for horseback riding, off-road cycling, and deep-woods hiking.

Koon’s Trail

Koon’s Trail is a one-mile trail along Buffalo Creek in Mifflinburg that boasts opportunities for viewing spring wildflowers and birding. The trailhead is at Hassenplug Covered Bridge. What makes this bridge unique is that it’s the oldest bridge in Pennsylvania -- built in 1825. The bridge spans 80 feet over Buffalo Creek.

Newer Covered Bridges on Trails

Don’t let the date of the bridge being built stop you from exploring! Some of the newer covered bridges are just as beautiful. Hit the trail and check out these newer covered bridges:

Lower Trail

The Lorraine Covered Bridge is a newer bridge that sits on the Lower Trail, which runs for almost 17 miles from near Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County to near Alexandria in Huntingdon County. The Lower Trail is a favorite for being “remote” and “woodsy,” and is open year-round for hiking, biking, horseback riding, bird watching, and photography.

In the winter months, cross country skiing and snowshoeing is accessible on the trail. The bridge is said to be named in honor of a woman who loved the trail.

Sheepskin Rail Trail

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The Sheepskin Rail Trail is a developing trail located in rural Fayette County. The trail is currently open in three unconnected segments, totaling nearly 6 miles. Eventually, the rail-trail will total 34 miles. Near Uniontown, a 2.2-mile section of the trail is paved and extends from the Hutchinson Recreation Area north to Cinder Road. A charming, newer covered bridge greets trail users at the southern end of the trail.

Marilla Bridges Trail

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The Marilla Bridges Trail in Bradford begins at the Eric Benjamin Bridge and loops around the Marilla Reservoir. This 1-mile, crushed limestone trail, is easy and very family friendly. There are a number of nearby trails, ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty, that allow you to explore the Allegheny National Forest. This modern, covered bridge, takes hikers across the reservoir spillway to begin a scenic trek.

Covered Bridges in State Parks

Take in some covered bridges while enjoying a whole array of outdoor activities! Check out these covered bridges at Pennsylvania state parks:

Tyler State Park

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Schofield Covered Bridge, located in Tyler State Park, was built in 1873 to help farmers in the area get across Neshaminy Creek. It is the longest covered bridge in Bucks County. The bridge was destroyed by arsonists in 1991 and was reopened to the public in 1997. The area around the bridge is popular with hikers, horseback riders, and fishermen.

Little Buffalo State Park

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The Clay’s Covered Bridge in Little Buffalo State Park was built in 1890. The 82-foot long covered bridge was used to cross over Little Buffalo Creek, but was later moved one mile from its original location when the lake was created. The bridge is located in the middle of the park among the 8 miles of hiking trails.

Beltzville State Park

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The Harrity Covered Bridge was built in 1841 to carry travelers over the Pohopoca Creek. When the creek was dammed in 1970 to create Beltzville Lake, the bridge was dismantled and reconstructed between the picnic areas and the beach in Beltzville State Park. The bridge was first used by horse and buggy traffic, and later by one-lane car traffic, but is now only used by pedestrians accessing the many recreational opportunities at the park.

Organized Covered Bridge Tours

Want to take in some covered bridges on a cycling adventure? Consider these:

  • The Central Bucks Bicycle Club Covered Bridges Ride is held each year on a Sunday during the fall season. The ride offers the ability to travel through up to six historic covered bridges. You can choose from five routes, the family-friendly 20- and 34-mile routes or the hillier 35-, 50- or 63-mile rides.

  • The Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour is approximately 50-miles long and includes seven covered bridges in the area. There are several ways to take the tour, and if you don’t want to hike it or drive it, then biking it is your best bet. The tour can be broken up if you don’t want to go that distance.

  • The Lancaster Covered Bridge Classic by the Lancaster Bicycle Club is a classic Pennsylvania ride now in its 41st year. It offers beautiful routes of 100 miles, 65 miles, 33 miles, and 16 miles, covering some of the most scenic cycling terrain and covered bridges.

September is when we celebrate trails! For more information about all types of new trails to try, visit the Explore Pa. Trails website.


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