The Switchback Gravity Rail Road was built back in 1827 and was Americas second oldest rail road. It was intended to haul coal from the Summit Hill to the Lehigh River and to the town of Mauch Chunk, which is now the Town of Jim Thorpe. This was an engineering marvel and its popularity during the nineteenth century was second only to Niagara Falls. In the 1850’s thrill seekers would pay an astounding $.50 at the time to ride the gravity rail road to the bottom, making the Switchback the first known roller coaster in America.
The old wagon road that ran alongside the rail is now used for hiking and biking and sightseeing of the old ruins of the gravity rail, of which only ruins still exist today.
The Switchback Rail Road Trail is one of the most historic among Pennsylvania’s trails system. The trail is an 18 mile round trip. You can strike out on your own and create your very own adventure on two wheels, or follow one of the recommended trails as suggested by the Switchback Rail Road Foundation, designed for the leisurely hiker/ biker to the more experienced.
The back country the old Switchback trail follows was once known as “The Switzerland of America” because of its picturesque scenery and mountainous location. The architecture of the area lends to this designation as well.
In 2009, Budget Travel Magazine awarded the Town of Jim Thorpe a top ten ranking of their coolest small towns.
Besides the mountain biking along the Switchback Rail Road Trail you will find many other sporting activities in and around the Town of Jim Thorpe, such as paintball, and white water river rafting, as well as hiking and boating.
Switchback Railroad Trail – Biking
P.O. Box 73 Jim Thorpe, PA 18229