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Pennsylvania Turnpike Abandoned Tunnels

 5.0 (3)

Length


17.6 Miles 28.4 Kilometers


2,132' 650 m

Ascent

-2,131' -650 m

Descent

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

119%

Max Grade (50°)

1,822' 555 m

High

1,135' 346 m

Low

Shared By Jeff Menaker

Conditions


Unknown

Getting forecast...

Explore America's only abandoned superhighway turned multi-use trail.

Jeff Menaker

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-

Family Friendly While the full distance is likely too far, a trip out and back to the first tunnel would be a fun and manageable hike.

Overview

This section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was abandoned in the late 60's. This hike explores nearly eight miles of old roadway, including two tunnels that are accessible on foot or by bike.

Need to Know

DO NOT GO WITHOUT A LIGHT. Do not explore the side passages of the tunnels. Stay on the roadway as adjacent areas are still under PA Turnpike control.

Description

This hike explores a section of America's first long-distance, limited-access highway that was taken out of service in 1968 when the turnpike diverted over and around the mountains instead of through them. The old road has two dark, damp, and abandoned tunnels along 8 miles of history that is slowly reverting to nature. There are some gentle climbs and descents along the length of the trail. The tunnels are dark (in the longer tunnel, neither end is visible from the center) and offer not only a unique, chilling sensory experience but also a cold respite from the heat and exertion outside.

From the east side, it is a short hike to the larger of the two tunnels: Sideling Hill Tunnel. This tunnel is approximately 1.3 miles long with a slight crest in the middle. At approximately 3.5 miles farther on (with some slight rolling hills along the way), hikers will come to Ray's Hill Tunnel, which is about 0.5 miles long. The old roadway continues a bit until reaching the western access near US 30.

The trail is entirely on old turnpike roadbed. The pavement is broken in spots, but easily traveled. Inside the tunnels can be extremely dark and damp. Watch for broken concrete, drips from overhead, and trash (including glass) in the tunnels.

History & Background

When the PA Turnpike first opened in the 1940's it had many tunnels. By the 60's, traffic congestion entering the tunnels was increasing. Many of the tunnels were twinned, but the two tunnels in this section were abandoned as the turnpike was rerouted around/over the hills. The two tunnels have since become part of the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy. The tunnels are open to recreational use, but the ventilation and maintenance tunnels are closed.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Mar 16, 2018
Benjamin Mule
17.6mi
Mar 11, 2018
Andrea Cockfield
Two sketchy figures with headlamps. We retreated they followed. Then one hid in the side tunnels. The other took a knee.
Dec 3, 2017
Austin King

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#577

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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Rankings

#6

in Pennsylvania

#577

Overall
99 Views Last Month
1,223 Since Aug 24, 2017
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Andrea Cockfield
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Andrea Cockfield   Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Has anyone else encountered situations that felt unsafe either on bikes or on foot? At the first tunnel, we observed two headlamps hanging mid-tunnel. It felt "off" so we went only a couple more yards and when they hunkered, we retreated on our bikes. Then they followed. At the entrance, one figure dashed into the side infrastructure and the other took a knee near an inside curb. We decided the ride was not worth it off-season with no one else in sight. Mar 13, 2018
Jeff Menaker
Audubon, PA
Jeff Menaker   Audubon, PA
Andrea. Each time I have been there, I have been with a group. I have not experienced anything unsafe, but have been disappointed by the disrespect for the features and environment from other trail users. I will likely be going again with the group. Search for Take It Outdoors Adventures. We're near you and mix a few biking trips into our kayaking programs. Our group made 2 trips to the tunnels last year. Apr 25, 2018

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