Exploring the Slate Heritage Trail
After my successful outing on the gravel D&L Trail last month, I found myself thirsting for more adventure as my confidence in my Me-Mover grew. The Slate Heritage Trail is a short spur off of the main D&L Trail in Slatington, PA. Due to its challenging conditions, I had biked it but never Trikked it, and thus had not been on it in several years. I remembered it being distinctive and scenic, but as the years had dulled my memories, I knew a ride there would be akin to exploring a whole new trail. I was not disappointed.
The D&L’s Slatington trailhead was an ideal starting point as it features ample parking, restrooms, and a snack vendor. It’s easy to miss the turnoff for the Slate Heritage Trail if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but it is just south of the parking area after crossing a small bridge. A right turn between several large boulders will put you on the trail between a group of houses and the Trout Creek.
The first segment of this trail winds through a heavily wooded area, and care must be taken as the trail is frequently damp from water runoff here. I recalled from my biking days that this freezes quickly in the winter! But on this pleasantly warm early-autumn evening I was able to enjoy the ride and take in the sights of old industrial ruins along the embankment.
As the trail winds under the Main Street bridge and out of town, the trail is a steady climb of one to two degrees. The trail surface is less than ideal in many places with cracks, gravel, fallen leaves, and other tree debris. It is worth dealing with though as the the views of Trout Creek and the woods alongside the trail are pleasant.
After carefully crossing a rickety wood plank bridge, the trail wound through a small neighborhood. It always delights me when kids playing alongside the trail look at my ride and say “hi” and tell me how cool it is. Not only is the Me-Mover great exercise, but it’s also a way to stay young at heart and have the kind of fun I used to have when I was a kid on my beloved big wheel.
The trail continues to climb out of the neighborhood and to my favorite part – the covered bridge. Although there are still numerous covered bridges along Pennsylvania’s roads, this is the only one I know of along a recreational trail. It looks fairly new, and has well-maintained landscaping and benches to rest on at either end. It’s a good chance to rest from the long climb and enjoy nature’s tranquility.
After a much needed break, I continued the climb until the trail made a sharp right turn and crossed a newer wood plank bridge over Trout Creek. Beyond this bridge, the trail turns to slightly rutted gravel and the climb steepens. I made it just past the Pennsylvania Turnpike overpass, but then the climb up to Center Street in Emerald was more than I felt comfortable with. My memory of the mile or so of trail beyond that point is equally hilly and gravely, so I decided this would be as far as I would go on the Me-Mover.
I try to plan my rides so the harder, climbing parts come at the beginning of the ride, and my outing on the Slate Heritage Trail was no exception. Due to it’s nature, the descent back to Slatington was a breeze and let me relax and enjoy the scenery more. There was still some pedaling required, but the level of exertion was minimal.
The entire ride was only 4.2 miles, and with the challenging conditions I would hesitate to recommend this trail for Me-Movers not comfortable with climbing and varied surface conditions. I enjoyed my outing on it very much though, and it reminded me that when I view each ride as an adventure I tend to forget I’m actually exercising. This sure beats going to the gym!