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Swatara State Park Ride

 23 votes

7.4 Miles 11.9 Kilometers



769' 234 m


-768' -234 m


643' 196 m


468' 143 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (8°)



Hitting all the highlights (but not all of the connectors) at Swatara

Frank Maguire


Although its not a very developed park, PA State Park rules are enforced. No drinking and no dogs off leash.
The first "planned for mountain bikes" trail system in PA State Parks, Swatara is great ride to introduce someone to the joys of singletrack. Well designed contour trails with log and root obstacles, the network is a text book stacked loop system so you can bite off as much or as little as you want.

Need to Know

The trailhead can be a little hard to find, its off State Park rd, just after you pass the sign for the Appalachian Trail.


The ride twists and turns through fairly mature hardwood forest, with several creek crossings. Be prepared for numerous log hop opportunities as they make up the major technical challenge of the trail system and seem to pop up when you least expect it. For the most part, the trail surface itself is packed dirt, making it a less intimidating introduction to singletrack riding then most PA trails.

This route is described counter clock-wise and on the exterior of the system, but clockwise works as well, and might even be a little better. The ride here covers A, A1, A2, B, C and D loops, but if you wanted to ride more, you could easily take one of the connector trails and reverse direction on any given loop for a different experience.

History & Background

The park itself was originally intended to become a Dam in the 1960's. The state took possession of the land, but never developed it. It was declared a State Park, but remained undeveloped until the early 2000's. SAMBA got involved in the very early stages of the park planning process and were able to create this gem of network over the course of the last decade. So if you find yourself north of Harrisburg with your bike, definitely stop and ride!


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4.4 from 23 votes

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Oct 24, 2017
Jared F
Oct 7, 2017
Tricia Kehs
Sep 4, 2017
Jared F
Sep 1, 2017
Troy Schell
Great ride...keep to the sides of the ruts to avoid trail damage 8.5mi
Jul 30, 2017
Eric Trinkley
Fun singletrack that flows well. Roots, log crossings and stream crossings. Very fun! Went clockwise.
Jun 27, 2017
Guy Deeble
Fun flowy ride 8mi
Jun 25, 2017
James Sweet
Apr 24, 2017
Paula Churchill
Dogwood may apple, trout lily, spring beauties, violets!

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 23 votes


  4.4 from 23 votes
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Wear orange in hunting season. You'll be parked next to hunters. There are pit toilets at the Turtle trailhead, a mile or two on the road before you turn down to the trailhead. Great trails - a lot like Nox with more rollers. Nov 8, 2015
Flowy with a little elevation change and few moderate climbs great entry level mountain bike area to get your fitness up. One technical skill you will develop is going over log features so be prepared for it you run into one every 2 or 3 minutes. If your looking for more of a challenge I'd recommend going somewhere else. Anyone can have fun here with the flow though. Oct 28, 2017

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