Steam Into History

Photo courtesy of John Gensor

Looking to fall into a great autumn getaway? Make a trip to explore what's now a national Hall of Fame rail trail - the York County Heritage Rail Trail.

Here, an adventure for all awaits this fall on foot, by bike - or even on a train.

Along the way, the Rail Trail takes you more than 20 miles through beautiful Pennsylvania countryside, from the Mason-Dixon Line northward into historic and happening Downtown York. View Map    

Discover for yourself why the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently honored the Rail Trail as one of fewer than 30 on its Hall of Fame list, and why the Heritage Rail Trail is also the Keystone State's reigning Trail of the Year.  

Best Time to Visit

The York County Rail Trail Authority will host an inaugural Pumpkin Walk on October 17, which is also conveniently estimated to be peak fall foliage time here in southern Pennsylvania.

This is a short sojourn to and from the Seven Valleys parking area, which will be adorned with decorated pumpkins for the season. Pumpkin carvers of all ages are invited to participate, and your $5 donation will help develop your new favorite trail destination.

Consider this 7-9 p.m. event your night cap to daytime, on-your-own explorations of the Trail.

Trail of Attractions 

Your excursions can include a wine tasting at Four Springs Winery just steps from the main route, a quick bite to eat at the Glen Rock Mill Inn just feet off the path, and a must-do journey through the landmark Howard Tunnel.

Even chug along the Trail to see the leaves and more on a working Civil War-replica locomotive, Steam Into History.

Expand the Experience 

Speaking of expansion, a getaway to York County this October means you could be among the first to experience peak foliage on the NEW northern Rail Trail extension.

This several-mile section stretches from north of York City to John C. Rudy County Park and is packed with opportunities to watch wildlife.  

The northern end point of John Rudy is actually one of many York County Parks where you can continue your explorations.

There's also Codorus State Park near Hanover, Gifford Pinchot State Park in northern York County and Samuel L. Lewis State Park at the beautiful Susquehanna Riverlands.  

Or for a longer trail adventure, pair a Pennsylvania journey with a trip up or down the companion Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail.

The path stretches from north of Baltimore all the way to the Heritage Rail Trail at the Mason-Dixon Line.

Where to Stay 

After adding in all this fun, you'll need an overnight stay - or three. The Jackson House Bed and Breakfast in far southern York County is a great option.

Right on the Rail Trail in the aptly-named community of Railroad, the Jackson House is a classic 1859 bed and breakfast with private baths and a wine cellar, fireplace, gardens and hot tub all perfect for relaxing after a day on the Trail.

Or book your stay just off the interstate at the Shrewsbury Hampton by Hilton, also perfectly and conveniently located for a Rail Trail overnight.

The hotel features an indoor heated pool and whirlpool.

And, an insider tip: Booking the Wine Trail Getaway special offer is perfect for adding an extra day and making a side excursion through the expansive and diverse Mason-Dixon Wine Trail

Nature's Realm in Downtown 

Farther north, you can make reservations around York at one of several great hotels that would be perfect for spending a night learning why we call downtown "happening."

And as a possible on-the-town alternative to the Pumpkin Walk, get your tickets now for a very special York Symphony Orchestra: In Nature's Realm event at the historic Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Music Director and Conductor Lawrence Golan joins the York Symphony Orchestra for the first time as a guest violinist for a special presentation of Vivaldi's "Autumn."

In addition, two vocal standouts take the stage to share the rapture and beauty of Mahler's "The Song of the Earth" and a special visual presentation is featured of real-time program notes.

More October Festivities 

Can't make it the weekend of October 17? No problem.

Most of the attractions listed above are available pretty much whenever you want to visit, and York County's events calendar is filled with fall festivals and other seasonal events that turn any weekend into a great time to come and Explore York:


      Few outdoor shopping experiences have a better view than the annual Bridge Bust between       Wrightsville and Columbia on Saturday, October 3. The iconic bridge closes for this event as       more than 300 vendors offer their wares in the categories of antiques, art, crafts, food and       unique items. 

      The hometown Historic Shrewsbury Fall Festival, also October 3, is an annual celebration       with homemade pies, cakes, crafts, furniture, jewelry, games, entertainment and more!

      Cruella De Vil adds to the adventure at Steam Into History for a one-hour ride Sunday,       October 4, and will take you and the children on a journey to a Pumpkin Patch.

      The Apple Fall Festival at the Haldeman Mansion on Sunday, October 11, features activities       for the kids, a great band, tours and more.

      Central Market keeps the fall festival theme going all the way to the end of the month with       Pumpkin Fest on Saturday, October 31, celebrating the fall season and fresh, local flavor. 


Want to make it easy to plan your trip? As always, an extensive list of themed lodging packages offers the right option perfectly paired to your tastes for a spectacular fall getaway to York County this October.

Your reservation is always made for York County, PA!