In western Pennsylvania, the Armstrong Trail offers 30 miles of improved trail with several short on-road sections between Rosston and East Brady in Armstrong and Clarion Counties.
North of East Brady, another 6 miles of unimproved trail is accessible in the community of Catfish. This section is open to the public, but its surface is grass and dirt, and it is not yet directly connected to the 30-mile improved trail. The Brady Tunnel, completed in 1916 and stretching nearly a half-mile, will be an interesting highlight of this section once the tunnel is restored; it is currently closed to the public.
Tracing the eastern bank of the scenic Allegheny River, the improved trail varies between crushed limestone and smooth asphalt surfaces to accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, and inline skaters in the warmer months. The trail is wheelchair-accessible within the town of Kittanning. There are plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the lazy Allegheny River and even try your luck catching fish. Cross-country skiers can enjoy the trail in winter.
The Armstrong Trail runs along the former Allegheny Valley Railroad. The railroad, chartered in 1837 and opened in 1855, served as a passenger and freight rail line and eventually extended from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo, New York. The rail line ended passenger operations in 1941 and was purchased by the Allegheny Valley Land Trust in 1992 for conversion to the existing trail.
Remnants of this railroad history can be found at many points along the trail, including (from north to south):
- A turntable and train yard in Phillipston
- A coaling tower in Redbank, where steam locomotives once filled up with coal to fuel their engines
- The Kittanning Train Station, which opened in 1856
Several locks dating back to the early 1900s, which are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, are also visible along the trail.
The trail runs close to a number of private residences at many points along its length, so please respect any posted no-trespassing signs. The Kiski-Junction Railroad has reactivated an 8-mile section of the former rail between Schenley and Rosston. As a result, this is no longer part of the Armstrong Trail at this time and there is currently no access or opportunity for biking or hiking in this area.
There are numerous trail access points with parking along the trail. Directions to parking areas can be found on the trail’s website. The parking area at Buttermilk Falls also provides access to the Cowanshannock Trail, a short 1.5-mile rail-trail. And, a few miles east of East Brady, the Armstrong Trail connects to the Redbank Valley Rail Trail, which offers an additional 50 miles of rail-trail to explore.
Parking and access to the trail are available at Rosston, Ford City, Kittanning, Bernard C. Snyder Picnic Area, Lock and Dam 8, Templeton, Rimer, Redbank, Phillipston, East Brady, and Catfish. A map and directions to designated parking areas are available on the trail’s website.