The South Penn Railroad is often called the railroad that never was. The idea was to build a railway from Philadelphia on the east coast to the industrial city of Pittsburgh. The proposed route of the railway was to be through some of the most difficult mountain terrain on the east coast. The railway turned out to be a financial bust. However some of the proposed route has been retain and converted into tourist trails.

I travelled through the area on a holiday with my personal trainer wife. Being married to a personal trainer can be a bit tiresome at times, we can never go on a holiday without my wife wanting to do some form of exercise. So we went to the South Penn Railroad area, as the tourist guides said there was a good combination of outdoor activities, scenery and accommodation.

There are several mountain bike tour companies operating in the area. We hired the bikes, helmets and all the other gear for a day’s riding; all the equipment was newish and in excellent condition. The tour used a combined of downhill bike trails with a train ride to the top of the mountain. There are other rides that follow the original route of the railway, the tracks have been removed. The route was planned for a railway and so the gradient is quite mild for those who are not gung-ho bike riders. There was even some snow in the area, which made the scenery even more spectacular.

We also took the opportunity to hike along a section to the proposed route that proved too difficult to complete. There were many interesting construction sites with bridges half built and tunnels half dug. We camped out overnight and sleep in a partially completed tunnel, the tunnel only went back about four to five meters, but it was cosy especially with a couple of overnight snow showers. We went in winter and so there was no-one else around and we had the camp site to ourselves, however we were told that the campsite could get a little crowed in summer.

There are also other outdoor activities, such as horse riding and rock climbing. The accommodation in the area is a little upmarket, which suited us, however the budget traveller might need to look a little harder for economically priced accommodation.