With a wide, paved pathway and adjacent equestrian trail running through lush woodland and riverside terrain, the Allegheny River Trail (ART) has something to offer every trail enthusiast. Following a segment of the Allegheny River that is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, the 32-mile trail extends south from the Samuel Justus Recreation Trail in Franklin, to a point south of where the Allegheny and Clarion rivers meet in Brandon south of Foxburg.
The Scrubgrass Generating Company acquired the rail corridor after the Allegheny Valley Railroad stopped using it in 1984. Scrubgrass Generating donated the property to the nonprofit Allegheny Valley Trails Association, which is building an extensive rail-trail system in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The trailhead begins 5 miles downriver from the Franklin Belmar railroad bridge. Built in 1907 the picturesque bridge offers a spectacular view of the river and wildlife. At the Belmar bridge, the trail connects with the 8-mile, paved Sandy Creek Trail, which runs east to the village of Van. Eventually, it will connect with the Clarion Highlands Trail to offer 46 miles of trail.
The Allegheny River Trail is also one of several trails that make up the growing Erie to Pittsburgh Trail in western Pennsylvania. One day, the trail network will extend from Lake Erie to the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers in Pittsburgh.
To reach the Franklin trailhead, take Route 8 North to its junction with US 322. Take US 322, which becomes 8th Street in Franklin and crosses the Allegheny River. The trailhead parking lot is on the right. The lot sign says SAMUEL JUSTUS TRAIL, which is the rail-trail going north from Franklin. The Allegheny Trail goes south from the lot.
To reach the Belmar trailhead for both the Allegheny River and Sandy Creek trails, take Route 8 South from Franklin. Continue 3 miles, turn left on Pone Lane and pass Sandy Creek High School. Continue to Belmar Road. Turn right on Belmar and follow the road to the trailhead parking lot at the river.