Coordinated by the Snow Shoe Rails to Trails Association (SSRTA), the Snow Shoe Trail caters primarily to ATV and off-road motorcycle enthusiasts. It is open to other users as well, but the rough ballast and gravel surface makes for a bumpy mountain bike ride or a tricky hike.
The Snow Shoe Trail finds its origins in the Beech Creek Railroad, which opened in 1884 to serve the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company, whose mines were expected to produce 500,000 tons for coal each year. In 1899 the railroad ceased independent operation and was incorporated into the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company. The rail line also offered passenger service until about 1934.
The railroad saw its last train in 1990 under the ownership of the Consolidated Rail Corporation. By 1994 the tracks had been removed and the right-of-way had been acquired by the Headwaters Charitable Trust in anticipation of a rails-to-trails project. Since then the SSRTA formed and has worked to create this fully functional rail-trail.
The Snow Shoe Trail preserves the 1,277-foot Peale Tunnel, completed in October 1883. If you plan to pass through the tunnel, bring a light to get a better look at the cut-stone entrances and mix of brick and natural surface on the interior. Its viaduct offers an excellent view of Moshannon Creek; though at 770 feet long and 110 feet above the creek, the bridge may be unnerving for those with a fear of heights.
While all types of users are welcome on the trail, motorized users must get a permit from SSRTA. Local ATV membership is highly recommended. Obey all of the posted signs and be courteous to other trail users. Note that there are 12 gates with bollards along the trail; motorized vehicles must be less than 61 inches wide to pass through these bollards.
To reach the Gillentown trailhead, take Interstate 80 to Exit 147 for Snow Shoe. Turn left and head north on Route 144. Continue approximately 3.5 miles. You will pass Seperish Recycling on the left. At the bottom of the hill beyond the recycling center, turn left at the Snow Shoe Trail trailhead sign. Continue down the gravel road to the large gravel parking lot. The trail is clearly visible along the length of the parking area.
To reach the Black Bear Run trailhead near Winburne, take Interstate 80 to the Kylertown Exit. Turn north onto Route 53. Go about 0.33 mile and turn right onto Main Street (the first road past eastbound I-80 exit). Stay on Main Street (after about 2 miles you will see the fire hall and Jackson's Bar on left). Continue about 0.5 mile and you will pass the old Avondale Hotel on your left; the road makes an extreme left-hand turn with a park on your right. The road crosses over a bridge that spans the Red Moshannon/Centre County Line. Continue up a hill and the Black Bear Nursery will be on your left and a stop sign just past the nursery. You've now traveled about 3.7 miles from Route 53. Turn right at the stop sign and go about 200 feet and turn left into the entrance to the Black Bear trailhead.
From Route 220, take Steel Hollow Road to Julian Pike and turn left toward Black Moshannon State Park. At the Route 504 intersection turn left (toward Philipsburg). Go 0.1 mile across the bridge, turn right onto Casanova Road (toward Winburne/Kylertown); the trailhead is about 5.8 miles and is on the right.
From the Philipsburg area, take Route 504 toward Black Moshannon and turn left onto Hanna Furnace Road. Go 3 miles and turn left onto Casanova Road; go 0.6 mile to the trailhead (left). Another option from Philipsburg is to take Coaldale Road to the Casanova Road and turn right; go 0.4 mile to the trailhead (right).