Q: Hi Peter,
My friend and I are visiting the Amish country in September for a bicycle tour and will start in Philadelphia for one night, then on to Mertztown for three days, then to Bird in Hand. We are bringing our bicycles and want to ship them to Mertztown. Do you have any suggestions on how to ship, and mostly, where some good trails are in those regions? We ride frequently but are not pros—just wish to enjoy the lovely country sights.
–Ilse, Tifton, Ga.
A:There are a variety of trails in Pennsylvania Amish country that can accommodate bicycles. Just south of Mertztown is the Schuylkill River Trail, a biking trail that runs the entire length of the river and ends in Philadelphia. To the north in Allentown, there is a 13-mile trail that follows the Lehigh Canal, and just north in Trexlertown, there is a scenic, 21-mile bike trail that winds through local wilderness areas.
Near Bird-in-Hand are a variety of trails that take you through the wilderness and through Amish country. In Strasburg, a small town to the south, there is a 14-mile trail that starts at the Strasburg Railroad Station and takes you along the country roads. In the north, near Intercourse, you can find some easier trails that follow Amish farms, allowing you to see some unique and beautiful sites.
As for shipping your bicycle, both UPS and FedEx offer bicycle shipping around the country. I suggest that you contact the place where you are staying in Mertztown and make sure that it is OK for you to mail your bikes there. If it is, go ahead and ship your bikes. This is the easiest way to make sure that your equipment gets there safely. Otherwise, there are bike-rental companies in the nearby cities of Reading and Allentown.