RUN: Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails

by: Kelly Leighton
August 6, 2014

It’s so easy to fall into a rut with running routes.

You become so set in “your” route, that you just set yourself on autopilot. One foot in front of the other as you retrace those steps for the hundredth or thousandth time. I know every bump and curve on my path (though it doesn’t stop me from still tripping over them), and I feel a sense of security and safeness when I am on my route. It’s like being home.

I do most of my runs along the river. It’s close to my house and to my office, and I have all sorts of routes memorized to piece together to achieve the mileage I am shooting for. However, last weekend, my friend Tim invited me to go for a run on the Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails path.

rails to trails

The 11-mile route technically begins in Shippensburg, but we started at the other end in Newville. Formerly a stretch of railroad tracks, it was donated by Conrail in 1995, and the Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails Council has spent the past two decades improving it into a multi-use trail for all ages and abilities, which is about 9.5 miles.

A late start thanks to me (hey, I had a wedding the night before), and humid and hot temperatures quickly squashed any idea to turn the run into the full 19-miler, although I’d be lying if the thought didn’t cross my mind at first.

The trail is sometimes gravel and sometimes packed with dirt and it often provided much-needed shade from the trees lining the path. It’s almost completely flat, with just a few minor inclines and declines which are barely noticeable. And for those of you who also suffer with small bladders, there is a bathroom at the start, and then around mile four.

Photo from

I was most surprised by how quiet it was. We saw fewer than a dozen other people, either biking or running, throughout our trek. It was so much different than all the busyness I am used to when I run.

Around mile five, I voted to turn around at mile seven. The humidity had gotten to me, and wringing out the sweat from my shirt and shorts wasn’t helping at all. By the last two miles, we had stopped speaking because we were both so hot and thirsty. Except for me asking, “How far are we?” approximately every tenth of a mile. I am a peach to run with.

I’d love to someday return and do the full 19 miles. There was so much to see. And it’s impossible to get lost. You just run straight. Even I can handle that.

I encourage you to check it out, if you haven’t already. A change of scenery is always rejuvenating.

One thought on “RUN: Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails

  1. Liz on said:

    The sentence “I am a peach to run with.” made me laugh out loud. Good article. Makes me wanna go for a walk in the woods!

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