Built in 1871 to transport the region's high-quality limestone to support Pittsburgh's growing steel industry, the Butler-Freeport line was the first railroad in the county. After a two-day celebration of the opening, the railroad conducted a mock funeral for the stagecoach that ran between the two towns. A branch of the Western Pennsylvania Railroad, the line became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system in 1903 before closing.
The ButlerFreeport Community Trail on the corridor, open since 1989, is nestled in the scenic wooded valley that follows Little Buffalo Creek to Buffalo Creek and on to the Allegheny River at Freeport. About an hour northeast of the City of Pittsburgh, the trail is flat and easy to ride. Heading south from Butler, you'll be on a slight incline. The trail surface changes from crushed stone to dirt to asphalt.
Remains of old stone quarries and brick kilns can be seen in the southern section of the trail. As you head north from Cabot, the results of late 1800 development are still visible. The former Saxon City Hotel, built in 1871, remains as does an old still-active lumberyard.
From April to October you can see an abundance of wildflowers, including trillium, Turk's cap lily, tall bellflower and butterfly weed. The trail is a popular recreation venue. Visitors come to enjoy bird watching and fishing, and the annual fall Buffalo Creek Half-Marathon always attracts a crowd. Before leaving Freeport, stop by the Freeport Area Historical Society office, where you'll find a wealth of information on the cultural and industrial history of the region.
The ButlerFreeport Trail Council maintains a passport-oriented historic geocache adventure, with up to 20 caches along the trail. Check their website for details.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Butler trailhead from Pittsburgh, take State Route 28 North to a left onto SR 356 North. Go about 4 miles to Sarver Road. Bear right on Sarver Road and go 1 mile to Buffalo Township Fire Station, which will be on your left. Park in the upper lot at the fire station.
There are numerous other trailheads and places to park long the trail's route. At the trail's current southern end point, park below the Buffalo Street bridge where it intersects Butler Rd./SR 356. Parking is also available in Sarver (Sarver Road) and in two places between Sarver and Freeport (Bear Creek Road and Monroe Road). Park in Cabot (Winfield Road) and in Herman (Brinker Road, Bonniebrook Road) and where Becker and Great Belt roads intersect.