A Mountain and a Rail Trail

HOPEWELL, PENNSYLVANIA

Probably eight years ago I asked some riders from Altoona what the hardest climb in the area was. I was thinking Blue Knob or Horseshoe Curve. One rider told me to find Henrietta Mountain Road. And today I did.

Parking at Hopewell

This was was tough. Although it wasn’t too long, just two miles. It’s always hard to compare climbs but I can compare it to some other two mile climbs or sections I have done.

That’s pretty good company, I would say.

I started my ride in Hopewell (Bedford Co.) on the H&BT rail trail. More on that later.

At Saxton I found the infamous Henrietta Mountain Road. I did no research and instead, just rode. It seemed to kick up to 7-8% right away. But after a quarter mile after an intersection, the real climb began.

It seemed to kick to 12% then went even higher. I have no real pictures because I wasn’t stopping although my body wanted me to. The road was winding but with only one sharp turn I hesitate to call a switchback. It was heavily wooded on both sides. It was beautiful. But it offered no panoramic views because it was so wooded.

Summit of Henrietta Road looking back towards Saxton (the tough side)

I tried to not look up the road because every time I did I could see it was going higher. After two miles, although I had no idea at the time, I could see the top. And here I made a mistake by not researching the climb. I assumed the road went over the top and down the other side. So I simply turned around.

A barn on Rte 26

The descent was steep. Rough pavement. And windy if not sharp turns. It wasn’t fun. I couldn’t let the bike roll. What I learned after the fact was I should have kept going. I could have gone another 3-4 miles where I would have joined Rte 164 coming out of Martinsburg. Then It looks like a straight descent back to Saxton. In other words, a fun descent. Oh well, next time.

Crushed limestone at Hopewell

I rode back to Hopewell and explored the trail a little more. At Hopewell going north for two miles, the trail is crushed limestone in great shape. A road bike is fine although I wouldn’t want to ride 20 miles on this.

Gravel road headed south from Hopewell

Going south the trail was a road. A gravel road that led to a camping area. That was harder on the bike. I rode a couple of miles then decided I had had enough. Wrong bike for this surface.

H&BT trail near Cypher

The signature landmark on the trail seemed to be the trestle over the Juniata River. I had decided the surface wasn’t right to pedal to it.

Bridge over Juniata River near Cypher

The trail head seemed to be on my way back to Somerset where I was headed. So I drove to Cypher to bike that section.

I don’t know if it was good or bad but the trestle was probably no more than a quarter mile away. But it was gorgeous. Maybe even more gorgeous was the cut in the hillside. The trail here was crushed limestone, again.

Bridge over Juniata River near Cypher

It’s a beautiful trail. If there wasn’t the section by the recreational area which was a gravel road, I’d have no problem recommending a road bike for the surface. But this trail needs the wide tires. I may do this on a mountain bike and will not Henrietta Mountain on a road bike. Again.

Cut in the hillside by Cypher

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