The old railroad line known as the Moshannon, or the Mills Branch, crossed the Moshannon Valley during the mid- to late 1800s. The line was the foundation of the region's late 19th- and early 20th-century economy. The valley's vast reserves of coal were the object of the railroad expansion, and with the economically feasible transportation to industrial centers, mining boomed. The rail line carried sitting President Benjamin Harrison when he toured the coal fields in the surrounding area and addressed the citizens at the Houtzdale Station. The history of coal mining in the area is noticeable from the trail as it passes remnants of the industry. Interpretive signage along the trail commemorates significant historical structures and events.
Purchased from Conrail in 1994 following its disuse, the corridor was converted to a multi-use path to preserve the land as a public asset. The trail is lined with hedgerows of multiflora and other deciduous shrubs. The entire length of the Houtzdale Line Trail is open for use with nearly 8 miles of improved surface from the Muddy Run Bridge west of State Route 2005 at Smoke Run to State Route 2007 just west of Osceola Mills. The trail has been graded, compacted and marked with mileposts. The extreme east and west ends of the trail remain in rough condition but are useable by hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. The best access point is at the trail center in Houtzdale.
Beyond Ramey and Houtzdale, the trail traverses natural areas of wetlands, upland forest and stream corridor with an abundance of wildlife and native plants.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the trail crossing in Houtzdale from Interstate 99, take 453 North to Viola and turn onto 153 North. (From I-80 take the Clearfield Exit for Route 879 South to 153 South). Park behind the BiLo Supermarket on Route 53 east of Houtzdale. On-street parking is available in Houtzdale and in Ramey on streets running parallel to the trail off State Route 453. A marked parking lot is now located off State Route 2005 in Smoke Run.