Sandy Creek Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

The Sandy Creek Trail carves its way through some of the most remote and spectacular countryside in northwestern Pennsylvania. This 12-mile paved trail has some impressive features, including tunnels and massive trestles like the Belmar Bridge, which crosses the mighty Allegheny River. This trail also connects to both the Allegheny River Trail and the Clarion Highlands Trail.

Beginning in the village of Van in the Clarion Highlands, this trail descends for the first 8 miles following Sandy Creek as it trickles down to the Allegheny River. Along this section, you cross numerous railroad trestles, some quite high with far-reaching views of the surrounding forests and hillsides. As you meander along the trail, you eventually reach the Sandy Creek Tunnel about a mile before hitting the Allegheny River. This former rail tunnel will cool you off on a warm summer day.

The trail eventually meets up with the Allegheny River, precisely where Sandy Creek empties out into it and where you can pick up the Allegheny River and Samuel Justus trails. Before crossing the Belmar Bridge, look for the sign down to them. Both follow the eastern banks of the river.

The 1,385-foot Belmar Bridge is a stunning example of the once booming railroad industry in the area. Originally built with funding from John D. Rockefeller, the bridge was intended to serve as a vital link on a corridor from New York to Chicago. In the end, the trestle and corridor were used more regularly to service the local coal industry. The trestle and trail cross the Allegheny River, where, after reaching the western bank, the trail turns left (southwest) and follows the river downstream.

The trail continues to follow the river's western shoreline for the remaining 4 miles. The gentle, wide river gives the area a soothing feeling as if it has remained in this state for thousands of years. The trail eventually reaches its terminus near Fisherman's Cove, where there is a backcountry access road.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Van railhead, follow 322 South/East out of Franklin and continue until you reach the village of Van. Take a right onto Tarklin Hill Road, and follow for 0.5 mile to the trailhead.

To reach the Fisherman's Cove Trailhead, from Franklin, head south on Route 8 out of town. Just before it turns into a divided highway, take a right onto old Route 8. Follow it until you cross the Pecan Bridge. Then take a sharp right down a hill and follow the sign to Seneca Hills Bible Camp. Take a right at the bottom of the hill and follow Fisherman's Cove Road for 3 miles until you see the trailhead on your right.


Two trails, one trailhead

   October, 2016 by tedmcgarry

I chose to park at the Belmar Trailhead off Route 8 because it has immediate access to the east-west Sandy Creek Trail (Sandy) at the Belmar Bridge and the Bridge when crossed, intersects with the north-south Allegheny River Trail (Allegheny). This way more

Always a nice ride

   October, 2016 by vicki1960

We parked at Belmar and biked down (literally) to Fishermans Cove and back up. Then headed out to Van,and back. Trail in good condition. Slight uphill to Van but nice ride downhill back to Belmar! read more

great trail

   September, 2016 by joelkring

Other than having to stop to get our recumbent trikes through the many bollards, we loved this trail. Well maintained, there was a tree across the trail but it looked like it blew down very recently. Lots of other paved trails in the area too. read more