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.


Lost Cow

   September, 2014 by muttie

My husband was just on the trail at 11:00AM 9/5/2014 and there was a black cow on the trail. If anybody knows who is missing a cow they can search 1 mile west of Van and the tunnel. read more


   August, 2014 by dayjob

Sunday Aug. 24,2014 Parked right near the Bel Mar Bridge. Large parking area, easy access to trail, right around the 8 mile post. If you go East, you cross the river bridge at once, if you go West you will go towards Fisherman's Cove for approx 4.2 miles. more

May 26, 2014 afternoon ride

   May, 2014 by jssdmd

Very scenic and well maintained trail. Started at Van and rode to Belmar. The bridges and tunnel make the ride more interesting than your typical rail trail. Compares favorably to other trails in the region. read more