Heritage Bike Tour

Cyclists ride along the Schuylkill River Trail during the 2019 Rhododendron Ride.

WHAT: Take a 12-mile heritage tour on the Schuylkill River Trail between Hamburg and Auburn. This section of the trail includes gorgeous views from the mountain ridge, an intersection with the Appalachian Trail, and great views of the river.

WHERE: Start the self-guided tour from the Kernsville Trailhead, then head west on the trail toward Auburn. Explore 4 tour stops along the way, with the final one at the Auburn Bridge where the trail ends.

WHEN: This self-guided tour begins on June 20,2020 in time for Father’s Day Weekend and will continue through the 4th of July Weekend.

TRAIL SURFACE: This section of the trail is crushed stone and not recommended for lower-width tires.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE: Take photos while doing the tour and use #RhodoRide when posting on social media.

Information about each tour stop such as interesting facts are listed below. For a full virtual experience, use your phone or mobile device during the tour and watch the videos below.
Prefer to have a printed copy of the tour brochure?

A limited amount of  Rhododendron Ride brochures with tour information will be available at the Kernsville Trailhead beginning on June 20, 2020. Participants can also click the text below to download a copy to print at their convenience. The document should be printed on front and back, then folded in thirds to create a tri-fold brochure. Enjoy your ride!


Tour Stop 1: Appalachian Trail & Port Clinton History



The Appalachian Trail … 

– is lovingly referred to as the AT

– spans from Maine to Georgia

– is about 2,200 miles in length

– is currently the longest hiking-only trail in the world

– sees more than 2 million hikers a year

The AT intersects with the Schuylkill River Trail in Port Clinton, a town of 300.  Port Clinton is located in the gap where the Schuylkill River cuts through the Appalachian Mountains. Port Clinton was a transportation hub throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The Schuylkill River, Schuylkill Navigation system, Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Reading Railroad all intersected in Port Clinton, making it one of the most important points of commerce for decades

The Appalachian Trail continues down the side of the mountain, through Port Clinton and under Route 61 before climbing back onto the mountain ridge.

Tour Stop 2: Rhododendron Flowers



The word “rhododendron” comes from two Ancient Greek words—”rhodon”, meaning rose, and “dendron”, which means tree. Despite their name, most rhododendrons grow as shrubs, which are evergreen or deciduous. Evergreen types usually have large, paddle-shaped leaves. Deciduous plants often have small, elliptical leaves.

Rhododendron and Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) are both members of the heath family (Ericaceae.)

There are more than 1000 species of rhododendron that are native to Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. In Southeastern PA, rhododendrons bloom in May and June, with their blooms last approximately 3 weeks.

At this location on the Schuylkill River Trail, rhododendrons thrive due to the rocky soil providing the perfect amount of water drainage and acidic-leaning pH. The dappled sunlight they receive through the tree canopy is their preferred amount of sunlight.

Tour Stop 3: Geologic Unconformity



Outcrops of bedrock are the individual pages which geologists must read in order to understand the story of Earth’s history.  You see before you an Angular Unconformity where two rock formations of different ages and different types are positioned at different orientations from one-another along what is at this location a steeply tilted surface. 

The sedimentary rocks were tilted together into their present orientation during the mountain building event which produced the Appalachian’s ridges and valleys.

Tour Stop 4: Former PA Railroad Bridge in Auburn



This former Pennsylvania Railroad bridge crosses the Schuylkill River and was used to compete with the Reading Railroad for Schuylkill County’s anthracite coal. Schuylkill River Greenways is transforming the exisiting structures to extend the Schuylkill River Trail, crossing the existing girder plate bridge and continuing partway through the second structure, the truss bridge.

This project will allow for the current trail you are on to connect with the existing Schuylkill River Trail at the Auburn Trailhead. The completed section will be a ¾-mile multi-modal trail wide enough for both cyclists and walkers to use together. The trail will eliminate the last remaining gap in the borough as well as create a 9.5-mile segment of the trail that will connect Berks and Schuylkill Counties.

Love the Trail? Help Us Build More!

Become a SRG Member! Your membership donation supports the Schuylkill River Trail and the many other projects and programs that benefit the entire Schuylkill River region. Joining is easy, visit schuylkillriver.org/donate.