This short hike follows a section of rail bed at the end of which you’ll find the remains of an abandoned tunnel as it enters Conocoheague Mountain.
Parking Lot GPS Coordinates: 40° 15′ 43.582″ N, 77° 39′ 35.935″ W
Trail Length: 1 Mile
Estimated Time To Complete: 45 Minutes
Elevation Change: ~120′
Trailhead Location: The large parking area on the east side of Hemlock Road at Big Spring State Forest Picnic Area.
Trail Type: Out & Back
Trail Map: Fowlers Hollow State Park and the surrounding Tuscarora State Forest Trails & Forest Roads Map – I found this at the Tuscarora State Forest Office on Route 274. Partial map also available at the Big Spring State Forest Picnic Area webpage on DCNR’s website.
Recommended Equipment: Sneakers or Hiking Boots, Water,
Optional Equipment: Trekking Poles
- Tuscarora Trail
- Iron Horse Trail
- Big Round Top Trail
- Hickory Ridge Vista
- Fowlers Hollow State Park
- Big Spring State Park
- Colonel Denning State Park
In the late 1800′s the Newport and Shermans Valley Railroad planned to link several of the local railroads in the nearby area with a new railroad that would include a 2,600′ tunnel through the heart of Conococheaque Mountain. By 1894 only the rail bed leading to the tunnel and about 100′ at each end of the tunnel had been excavated when the tunnel failed and was soon thereafter abandoned. Today the Tunnel trail follows the original rail bed to the mouth of the tunnel.
Cross Hemlock Road and head into the woods at the trail sign, after making a left turn the trail and heading slightly uphill the trail parallels the road as it follows the old rail bed. As you follow the blue blazed trail you’ll shortly come to a set of stairs leading where this section of rail bed ends. Near the bottom of the stairs a tree is marked with a double blaze where the trail turns right and heads uphill through some rocks at the top of which you rejoin the rail bed.
The trail ends near the mouth of the old railroad tunnel at a wooden fence where a sign warns you not to near the cave much less enter the mouth. A quick glance around the entrance to the tunnel is enough to see the large amounts of jagged rock that over the years have fallen from around the mouth of the cave. So much has fallen that the tunnel mouth is nearly buried by the rock probably loosened over the years by the water you can be oozing from the rocks. When you’re ready follow the trail back to Hemlock Road.