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.

Reviews

LS&MS Property Marker in Photo Gallery

   October, 2014 by rich ballash

Darn! I missed this awesome artifact! Exactly where is this marker located? The Lake Shore & Michgan Southern was a predecessor component of what became the massive New York Central System! read more

Van to Mays Mill Tunnel - NYC Artifacts

   October, 2014 by rich ballash

I had high hopes to find at least a few of those classic New York Central cast concrete mileposts east of the tunnel, but sadly, there are none remaining. Those two mileposts I mentioned in my earlier review of the west end of the trail are the only two ...read more

Downhill ride from Van to Fishermans Cove!

   October, 2014 by mikeandvic

September, 2014: We began our ride at Fishermans Cove since now we know where it is. The parking area at the trailhead was full so we rode 1/4 mile along the dirt road to Fishermans Cove boat launch and parked there. Riding along the trail between ...read more