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With a wide, paved pathway and adjacent equestrian trail running through lush woodland and riverside terrain, the Allegheny River Trail (ART) has something to offer every trail enthusiast. Following a segment of the Allegheny River that is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, the trail extends from the Samuel Justus Recreation Trail in Franklin south to Emlenton. Farther south, a disconnected segment of the trail stretches 3 miles between Foxburg and Parker.
The Scrubgrass Generating Company acquired the rail corridor after the Allegheny Valley Railroad stopped using it in 1984. Scrubgrass Generating donated the property to the nonprofit Allegheny Valley Trails Association, which is building an extensive rail-trail system in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The trailhead begins 5 miles downriver from the Franklin Belmar railroad bridge. Built in 1907 the picturesque bridge offers a spectacular view of the river and wildlife. At the Belmar bridge, the trail connects with the 8-mile, paved Sandy Creek Trail, which runs east to the village of Van. Eventually, it will connect with the Clarion Highlands Trail to offer 46 miles of trail.
The Allegheny River Trail is also one of several trails that make up the growing Erie to Pittsburgh Trail in western Pennsylvania. One day, the trail network will extend from Lake Erie to the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers in Pittsburgh.
To reach the Franklin trailhead (on the north end of the trail), take Route 8 North to its junction with US 322. Take US 322, which becomes 8th Street in Franklin and crosses the Allegheny River. The trailhead parking lot is on the right. The lot sign says "Samuel Justus Trail," which is the rail-trail going north from Franklin. The Allegheny River Trail goes south from the lot.
To reach the Belmar trailhead for both the Allegheny River and Sandy Creek trails, take Route 8 South from Franklin. Continue 3 miles, turn left on Pone Lane and pass Sandycreek Elementary School. Continue to Belmar Road. Turn right on Belmar and follow the road to the trailhead parking lot at the river.
Farther south, there are four additional trailheads in the communities along the trail (from north to south): Brandon, Rockland Station, Emlenton, and Foxburg. Please visit the Allegheny Valley Trails Association for the specific facilities available at each trailhead.
We started on the little section of trail in Parker, thinking it would be easy to hop over from Foxburg to Emlenton on the roads - I would not recommend doing this. The short little Parker trail was idyllic, but the few miles from that trail's end to the next trail head in Emlenton was harrowing (riding on a main road - 268 I believe?- with heavy truck traffic was one of very few options). However, the rest of the ride to Oil City was quite enjoyable even though it rained through most of Day 1. As others have noted, there is a section of trail blocked by a landowner, and the detour around it is tricky (kids and inexperienced riders might have some trouble on the rockier sections, especially if it is wet as it was during our ride). The tunnels were fun, and we were glad to have our headlights along for them as they are quite dark. We stayed over night in an eclectic AirBNB in Oil City (look for "Deep River Guest House" on AirBNB) that met all of our bicycling needs (easy access from the trail, porch to lock up the bikes on, a quick walk or ride to restaurants, etc.), then journeyed back to Parker the next day. On the way back, we tried a different route from Emlenton to Foxburg, which was a different kind of challenge (a "roller coaster" township road with lots of loose, chunky gravel), which I would also not recommend doing. However, we rewarded ourselves with some samples at the Foxburg winery and made it the rest of the way. Looking forward to doing the Emelenton-->Oil City (or perhaps farther) trip again!
Leisurely ride to Franklin. Overnight at Barnard House B&B (lovely) and back to Franklin the next day. Path was stellar. Smooth and level. The tunnels were an adventure. Bike headlights were enough, but it was still a surprise at how dark it is in the middle of the Kennerdell 3/4 mile. The detour at Sunny Slopes is a big disappointment and the road is not maintained well, so be prepared to dismount if you're on a road bike. Fortunately that detour is only 3/4 mile and most of can be ridden at this point, but at some point the state needs to exercise its domain rights and force the man who is blocking the improvement of the detour road to allow it. Ridiculous and mean-spirited. Lovely path, full of interesting sights and not crowded at all. Excellent.
Stopped for a ride on my way to NYC. Got an airbnb about a mile from the trail head in Emlenton, PA. Road to the bottom of the trail and back. Took about 4 1/2 hours-ish. Lovely scenery with a lot of shade along the way. Was only 80 degrees when I came through and I was told by my bnb host I lucked out on the weather (not sure what it's normally like there).
One thing I'll say in warning is that there are two tunnels on this trail which are somewhere from .5 to .75 of a mile in length and they are curved, so about 40 feet in, it's pitch black. There are reflectors on the path, but if you don't have a light with you, don't proceed (bring a light!). Even with a light it was still a bit creepy. The lower tunnel was also quite chilly. The upper one was only a bit cooler then the outside, but was very wet. I will be returning as I believe this links up with several other trails. There are some resort-ish/cabins (right after a non-paved diversion) along the path with some people who are oblivious to biking traffic. I had to go slow around those places so as not to collide with the clueless, but they were mostly just kids having fun, so I didn't mind. The majority of the trail was largely human free. Hard to believe, with such a nice trail; on a holiday weekend even (7/2/2017).
After visiting out of state we were returning home and decided to stop in Emlenton for the night. The next morning we rode from emlenton to the Kendrell Tunnel. The trail was empty and and conditions were great. It was the first time we rode through tunnels that really required headlights. It was awesome. I plan on going back and riding the other connecting trails
Lucky for us the information center at Franklin was open. We were told about the land owner near mile 13 that has the trail blocked. Riders have created a detour around the property but it is a very rough ride. Other then that it was a beautiful trail. There was lots of debris south of mile 13, some from a recent storm some from trail maintenance. It was also not clear if the section between Emlenton and Foxburg was open to the public or not.
Rode this trail for a second time this season. This day we rode from Emlenton to Franklin and back. Right at 50 miles. There are a few more miles east and south going out of the Emlenton parking lot, but you have to ride on the road for a bit. About 13 miles (going NW) there is a rocky detour around some camps. Must have been some dispute over the right of way. Anyhow, we made it through on hybrids. Not like on a straight road bike. Big loose stones and washout. Otherwise a fantastic ride.
We parked in Franklin and biked South to just passed Brandon. A little past Brandon the pavement ends for a short section. So if you want to stay on asphalt paved, it's 12.3 miles from Franklin to Brandon. And then back, makes for a nice ride.
A lot of tree coverage so it was nice when full sun.
New asphalt pavement from the Belmar Bridge to Brandon. The rest of the pavement is in good condition but this new asphalt is really nice.
At Brandon, there is a self serve beverage place. It's called Brandonacres Pop Shop. Cold water, pop and gatorade. You can see it from the trail. This is pretty much it as far as services in that area! Be sure to have singles and quarters as there is no attendant and you drop the money in a sealed box welded to the wall. So there is no way to get change. Still a great service!
Awesome trail, the 2 train tunnels are a blast to ride through, take a light, it's pitch black in them. Beautiful scenery along the Allegheny river, love it!
Great trail. The tunnels were pretty enjoyable since the temp was in the mid-90's when we road. This is a great trail -fully paved .
This trail is always a pleasure to ride if your looking for an easy trip. The trail is well maintained and the grass along the sides is usually short.
My wife and I ride here a few times a month. It is well worth the 50+ mile trip (one way) to get here from our home.
Others have described the trail and surrounding areas, so I won't repeat them.
vicky1960- Thank you for your pictures and reviews of the trails. I have found information about the trails and areas around them from you that I couldn't find elsewhere. Thanks for taking the time to share your photos and info.
Apparently we were there at the same time msahli85 was there. So won't write the same thing. Msahli85 covered it nicely.
We frequent this trail, different sections each time.
Every 4th of July we ride from Emlenton to Kennerdell, about 12 miles round trip. We saw a mama deer with her fawn, numerous chipmunks, and various birds.
The trail is paved however some rough and bumpy areas along this particular section. Grass cut along the sides of the trail but some of the tree branches seemed to be overhanging along the trail.
No facilities along the way, keep this in mind! Also carry in/carry out. We took sandwiches.
Tunnels very dark, we had lights. As did everyone else we saw in there, whether in front of us or coming the opposite direction.
New sign installed in Emlenton representing the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail.
There is a Bed & Breakfast in Emlenton you can bike to the trail from. Also several eateries and a grocery store for convenience.
Water activites: there is a canoe/tube/kayak rental in Emelenton.
If you do not have your own bike, there is a bike rental in Emlenton.
New for July 2016, some updated photo's submitted.
So many nice trails in this area, but the AVT is the best I have ever ridden. Highway grade pavement for a good portion, decent pavement the rest. Feels almost pool table flat for the whole route. Nice picnic tables and rest spots along the way. Old oil tanks and historic items all along the route. Right before the Kennerdale Tunnel is the detour around the camps. I have a mountain bike and thought it was a fun little change up. A road bike and even a hybrid may have some issues with the heavy gravel and washouts. But it is less than a mile before you are back on that beautiful pavement again!
Great areas to stop and picnic or swim. Not too crowded even on July 4th weekend, but enough people to say hi to make it feel welcoming. All the camps are so nice along the way too!
Tons of wildlife on the trail. Deer grazing on the trail, and 1000's of rabbits and chipmunks. The Allegheny is also full of life at this part and a refreshing swim!!
Keep in mind you are in a remote area. From Franklin there is one porta-toilet for 20 miles. By the camps a person has a seasonal ice and water stand. beyond that your on your own until you get towards Emelton!
Please note with the Kennerdale tunnel it is over 3,000' long and has a slight curve at the Easten end so heading East it is PITCH black darkness for 85% of the way through. ( I wont lie 1/2 way through for a second I thought it was blocked at the other end!!) Westbound could be ridden slowly without a light but East I feel would be way too risky, the path is raised so you'd take a dive off into some sketchy muck trying to ride blind!
Thank you so much AVTA and Rails to Trails for this trail. I will be back and I highly recommend it to any skill rider!
We road from Franklin to Brandon on the new pavement. Trail was in great shape for our 20 mile round trip.
We parked at the Belmar Bridge and rode our bikes across. At the end of the bridge, you can stay on the trail which is the Sandy Creek Trail. Or, you can take the bicycle stairs down below to reach the Allegheny River trail. There is white paint on the asphalt pointing to the Allegheny River trail. It looks like it's pointing to the woods but if you look below, you will see the steps.
We headed North on the trail to Franklin. And beyond to the Samuel Justus trail.
The trail is marked with mileage markers and mileage informational signs. If you look up on the hillside you can see old oil barrels and some old wells.
In Franklin there is a huge trailhead with parking, restrooms, an information center, picnic area. Across the river is a canoe/kayak launch.
Those old wooden barrels along the trail are old oil barrels from way back in the day. They are abandoned and some have been there over a hundred years.
I rode the trail on a 3/26/16 which was a beautiful day. This was my trip on the ART and it was well worth the drive. The tunnels were great, the trail was well maintained, very easy ride, and the little communities along the trail are amazing.
Would recommend anyone within driving distance who likes to ride and get out in nature to get on and ride this trail.
My boyfriend and I have rode this trail a few times in the last year. We are from the Cleveland, Ohio area. We visited again on Easter Sunday. What a beautiful day. I speak for both of us when I say that this has to be one of our favorite rail trails.
I have a question that I could not find an answer.
Can anyone tell me about the large wooden barrels that are found along the bike trail? What were they used for, how long have they been there?
Thank you in advance and thank-you to Rail Trails for the beautiful bike trail.
Have a wonderful riding season.
Ken & Connie
Planned on riding this trail further but ended up detouring onto Sandy Creek Trail. This is a great trail, well maintained with great views of Allegheny River. Plan on returning to ride again.
LOVED this trail!! It's paved, level, and beautiful! OK, I'm older. But in my day I have biked a lot of miles. I guess I have learned to appreciate life more. This is a wonderful trail to relax on and take in life. The tunnels add a little zing. Definitely bring a GOOD light, you will need it. Wish I lived a little closer to this gem of a trail. Definitely check it out. You will LOVE it!!!
Parked at the large lot south of Franklin. Was planning on connecting with the Sandy Creek trail, but as others have posted, for now there is only a steep stairway connecting the two (see pic). Don't try going on the path past the stairway - it leads nowhere. There are plans to connect the two with a path, so stay tuned. For now, you cant get from one to the other unless you do the stairs. About a mile from the Kennerdell tunnel, the trail detours into a gravel road. Looks like some ROW issues. Tough going, but it can be done. Its worth it to get to the pitch black tunnel. Don't try it with a wimpy one bulb lamp. You will need a bright lite to get through. The reflectors on the path help, but you need a good lite. 16 miles Franklin to the tunnel. Great ride.
Friday, the day before the 4th of July, my cousin and I
rode from Emlenton to past Kennerdell. We went through the Rockland Tunnel and exited the trail on the other side. Pushed our bikes up the road (Rockland Station Road) to Freedom Falls and the old clay furnace. After our trek through the woods, we got back on our bikes and rode down the hill and got back on the trail heading to Kennerdell via the St. George portion of the trail. Went through the Kennerdell Tunnel then stayed on the trail as far as we could go without the detour through the woods and dirt road since it appears there are camps where the trail should be. We got off the trail at the Kennerdell tunnel and rode on the road to Marlowe's Campground near the tunnel. This is the only place within a lot of miles to get a bite to eat. We had pizza at the campgrounds. Got back on the trail and biked back to Emlenton.
Started out at the trail head in Emlenton and rode to Franklin. Had lunch, and made the return loop back to Emlenton. This is a beautiful trail. There is one detour that takes you around some private property that is a little challenging, course gravel and some dirt, but don't let it discourage you from doing the whole thing.
We parked in Foxburg and rode our bikes to Parker, PA. Though only a few miles in length, you can go back and forth. Trail follows the Allegheny River. Crosses over the Clarion River which flows into the Allegheny. This nearly 3 mile section is a part of the Allegheny River Trail that ends / begins in Emlenton. There is a gap.
Foxburg is a lovely little town which offers a winery, a restaurant, pizza shop, ice cream shop and hotel to name a few. Bike for a few miles, grab a snack or meal and watch the boaters on the Allegheny River.
If you bike down to Parker, it's a little off the trail to visit Parker but do-able.
Nice ride from Emlenton to Rockland Tunnel. 5.5 miles out and back. Trail in good condition following Winter. Some ice still remained in the Rockland Tunnel. River was high and fast moving. Benches along the trail for relaxing.
I loved it. was a great ride from Franklin to Emlenton and back. beautiful views of the river and the Belmar bridge. enjoyed riding through both tunnels. very peaceful. one small section that wasn't paved but that was part of the adventure. I will be back.
We wanted to pick up the trail at Brandon and just ride to Kennerdell tunnel today. I heard that a small portion of the trail wasn't paved through there....that is an understatement. You have to nearly mountain bike over hills, over rocks, etc. to go around a group of cottages along the river...WTH !!!! And we had heard that this tunnel was darker than the Rockland Tunnel...that is correct...very long and dark. I have enjoyed the Sandy Creek Trail a lot and the portion of this trail from Franklin to Brandon, but today's portion is definitely NOT my favorite.
Looking forward to riding closer to Emlenton on this trail and then back to Sandy Creek Trail.
As always, another great ride on this trail! Due to it's length and also the connecting trails, we seem to frequent this one the most.
Rode early September. Parked at Belmar and crossed the Belmar Bridge overlooking the Allegheny River. The Belmar Bridge is part of the Sandy Creek Trail. Once across the bridge, we took our bikes down the bicycle staircase to reach the Allegheny River Trail. We headed South.
It was a beatiful day and many had taken to the river. Canoes, kayaks and even a Paddleboarder. As well as Pennsylvania Anglers.
The little shed in Brandon was open selling ice and cold beverages.
We rode through Brandon and reached the dreaded gravel or non paved section. We had to take our bikes through the woods which I pushed mine since it's a hybrid. Once through the woods (about 1/10 of a mile) we got on the gravel road. We road through the area of cottages and on some dirt / gravel paths. All in all the non paved part was about a mile.
We reconnected to the paved part and continued to the Kennerdell tunnel. Turned around and headed back. Again passing through the non paved part.
Coming back we did stop at the Indian God rock and also noticed you can see the Sandy Creek trail across the River.
We rode back up to the Belmar Bridge and took our bikes up the bicycle staircase.
Taking the bikes up the stairs seemed to be easier than bringing them down.
A nice great trail as always, enjoy the ride! Photo's posted. Mike and Vicki....Northwestern, PA
Did an out and back from Emlenton. Views were spectacular. The trail itself is an easy ride, outside of the section that is unpaved...which was a little sketchy. The two tunnels are definitely a highlight, next time will get better lights :)
Overall it absolutely lived up to the hype for me.
4th of July we just rode between the tunnels. Parked near Rockland and biked to and through the Kennerdell tunnels. 6 miles in between tunnels. Nice day, nice ride. Level paved trail. Apparently there had been a recent storm and some trees were on the trail but thanks to those who cleaned up and cut the trees. Don't forget your light in the tunnels!
We rode this trail from Emlenton to Oil City and back in late July and thoroughly enjoyed it. Two tunnels (definitely bring headlamps or flashlights); an almost constant visual of the picturesque Allegheny River; and one off-trail, approx. one-mile segment on a gravelly side road are trail highlights. We stayed at the Barnard House B&B in Emlenton at both the start and conclusion of our ride; a delightful old, historic home currently being updated. We had dinner the first night at the Little It Deli (good Italian food) in Emlenton. Our first day we rode to Oil City, then returned to Franklin where we stayed at the Witherup B&B and walked to dinner at Leonardo's (more Italian). Total miles first day: 40. On our second day we returned to Emlenton for 29 more miles. There was one significant rock and mudslide on the trail - six miles south of Franklin - with which to contend. Fortunately we could switch into crocs to squish through about six inches of mud. I suspect this situation will be corrected swiftly by trail tenders.
During serveral trips north we have rode this entire tail and its one of our favorites. Flat and shade. There are 2 tunnels along this trai, which are also fun, but very dark, bring your lights. A portion of the trail has some cottages and homes, but other parts are secluded and quiet.
Rode from Oil City to Emlenton. One of the nicest trails I have ever rode on. There is a half mile of detour that crosses some private land was very rough. So rough I think that's where I lost my light. I did not realize my light had bounced off until I was at the head of the tunnel. I was riding a hybrid tandem(recumbent front rider stoker and upright captain rear rider) so my wife held up the cellphone light and we creeped in on onward into the darkness. We survived and repeated as we went through the second tunnel. We were going to buy. A flashlight in Emlenton but to our surprise there is a bike store right in Main Street that had a good supply of lights from about 12 to 50 dollars, depending on the type of light. We stayed at the Barnard House b&b and ate dinner at Ottos a local tavern. Overall a great time a relaxing evening in a sleepy little town. Headed back the next morning with a new light and a great appreciation for one of the nicest trails around.
We road from Emlenton until the break in the trail on 4/12/2014. The Rockland tunnel is in bad shape from the winter. Large chunks of rock from the top of the tunnel have fallen onto the tunnel floor. There were large areas of ice also and large ice formations. This was all at the southern end of the tunnel. We carefully pushed our bikes around all of this and hoped that no more of the rocks from the top would fall on us! Then we continued and had a lovely ride. Be careful going through this tunnel.
Please be aware that the Emlenton to Foxburg segment is not open. This section, while physically ridable, is private property and not part of the trail system.
AVTA is currently in negotiations with the landowners for right of way through this area. Do not ride until it is advertised as open by the trail group. Thank you for respecting private property.
Greenways Coordinator for CGT & AVTA
The trail is open from Emlenton to Foxburg. I biked it the end of last year. It is not paved, but is open, flat, very hard packed, and in very good condition the entire length. If I can post a link, this will show you what the trail looks like.
Is the trail open from Emlenton to Foxburg?
Drove up from PGH to do this trail today because friends have raved about it. And they weren't kiddin'. Rode from Emlenton (27.5 mile marker) parking lot to the 14 mile marker. Riding thru the tunnels alone is pretty eerie and relaxing at the same time. Take time to visit the Freedom Falls located up a steep, but doable road just outside the far end of the first tunnel. It's Oct and the leaves were only at about 25% of full color. The very level asphalt path makes for a peaceful, easy ride. I'll do it again in a couple of weeks if the weather permits, the trees should be in full autumn color by then.
Never rode a paved trail before this morning. The Mrs. and I drove in to Emlenton to ride north. We made it all the way to the 11 mile marker. The paved surface means my knobby tires were a bit loud. For Rockland and Kennerdale tunnels, BRING A LIGHT. Both are long and have a bend in them so light doesn't get all the way through and they are very dark. I use a 250 Lumen LED light mounted on my handlebars with a simple bracket I bought on eBay. It was more than adequate, but the teeny clip lights won't be enough in there. The south end of Rockland was a bit drippy for the first 70 feet or so, otherwise both tunnels were dry. The pavement is in the woods, so there are some minor frost heaves and root bumps. Pay attention to the surface, even though the scenery on the river is so beautiful. We heard, but didn't get to see, an eagle. As you go north from Emlenton, just past the 13.5 mile marker you have to veer off the railbed for a mile and on a gravel road. That is the worst section and from south to north it's pretty well marked. I can see how someone going north to south the first time could get confused. If you're coming south, watch for the end of the pavement near a 3-bay white garage on the left. Follow the dirt road to the left just after that and at the first junction go right. Keep an eye out to see old alignments from time to time. There are some great cut stone viaducts hiding in the woods! The river is gorgeous, most of the trail is in decent shade, everyone we passed was nice. Great day, great ride!
My wife and I rode the trail from Emlenton to rocklund tunnel..bring a flashlight!..
Trail is flat and easy to ride.
Our main goal was to go to freedom falls and rocklund furnace for some great photos.
Anyone wanting an awesome experience should make this trip..The bike ride is about 7 miles to the freedom falls.After going through the tunnel,you take the gravel rode up the hill to the right,about 1/2 mile up the road you will find the falls on the right side of road.Take path down to falls which can be very steep if you do not go to the right,then down to stream and then upstream to falls..The falls are about 20' high and 50' wide..The rocklund furnace is amazing and is an Historic lankmark built in 1832..Please take the time to view this amazing furnace and water falls.
Having the Allegheny in view on the entire ride makes it even better!
This is a beautiful trail. Well maintained, nice pavement and a level ride. We saw a bald eagle and several deer..and only eight people during our RT ride from Franklin to Elmenton. So nice, as we are from VT and the trails we ride are often crowded.
I am grateful to one of the reviewers of this trail who mentioned that the trail seemed to come to an end at one point. Yes, it does seem to, and had I not had the alert, we would have turned around. Thank you!
About 13 miles in to the trail from franklin, the paved trail ends abruptly and there is no sign. The left fork is a gravel/dirt road through a residential area and the right fork is a neatly mowed grass trail and closer to the river.
TAKE THE LEFT FORK! We didn't, and that's another story.
The diversion is one mile long and we have road bikes and biking shoes so we were very anxious to find pavement again! There IS a sign alerting and directing cyclists at the other end of the dirt road, so you will see it on the return trip.
The tunnels are cool ( physically and fun wise) and another thanks for the suggestion to bring lights.. Definitely needed!
We truly enjoyed this beautiful trail and wish we lived closer so we could ride it more often!!!
This trail was nice and flat, a very easy ride. I was surprised when we came to the end as my GPS showed it about 5 miles short (could have been because we lost signal in the denser areas). We rode from Oil City to Franklin on the Samuel Justus Trail, then onto the Allegheny Trail. The tunnels were quite an experience! Even with a good LCD light we were still riding in the dark so the pavement reflectors were the only thing showing our way. We met up with quite a bit of bike traffic towards Emlenton but otherwise it was quiet and peaceful ride. Lots of wildlife and riding along the river was very scenic. The 1/2 mile section of unpaved trail was a bit tricky as our ride followed a rainy week and the dirt incline was slick, some areas had been layed with course rock so we walked our bikes on the grass beside these sections. It was a good opportunity to stretch our legs and 'cross train'! We plan to do this trail again but next time we will go out and back.
I rode this trail in July, 2012, while scoping out flat, scenic trails on which to ride my first century. LOVE this trail! The scenery is absolutely beautiful, the trail is clean, flat, paved, and well-maintained, there are no road crossings, and there are some twists and turns, which keeps it interesting. As other reviewers have noted, there are two tunnels that require having a light in order to get through them (I actually had a small flashlight with me, which was sufficient). There is one section (a half mile-ish long?) which follows a gravel road that is not suitable to ride with skinny tires, but it is well worth the walk to complete the entire trail. I don't recall there being many port-o-potties or places to refill water, so make sure you bring enough.
Truly cannot say enough about the beauty of this trail. Each time I thought I had hit the pinnacle of scenery, I went around a bend and saw an even more spectacular view. It is one of my favorite trails and on my list to return to. I live about 5 hours away and stayed at Oil Creek State Park Campground--if you're a camper, it's a nice place to stay, and the trail through Oil Creek State Park is also well-worth the ride.
We stayed in Franklin and I biked the four local great trails. Sandy Creek, Samuel Justus, Oil Creek State Park Trail and Allegheny River Trail which connects to the Justus Trail. The Drake Well Museum near Titusville is super to explain the birth of the energy industry and why we have these great rail trails. There are not many easy access points to the Allegheny River Trail below Franklin but we found a new one 5 miles below Franklin and just a 1/2 mile above Belmar off Astral Road where a tar road turns into good gravel and ends in parking circle just above the trail. Youker
I had been hearing about some pretty awesome places I have been missing by staying on the trail. At the Rockland tunnel trailhead, there"s a huge waterfall ( Freedom Falls google it) and a very old mostly intact Iron Furnace. Its about !/2 mile up the acess road for the trailhead and pull off areas for parking , Its a bit of a walk down to the falls , but its worth it and it is on Pa state game lands. You will see a trail going off the side of the road that will take you right too them. Becareful it is steep. You;ll be glad checked them out we were
The wife and I along with our 12 year old (who was riding a BMX) started off in Oil city (Samuel Justus trail) and rode through the Kennerdell Tunnel. Besides the 1/2 mile connector the trail was absolutely stunning. There is not a lot of places to stop with restroom facilities or water so it would be advised to come prepared as others have mentioned. On the way back we saw a little shack up on the hill that had water and pop for sale with an honesty box for your payment. Whoever set that up, THANK YOU!!! The only part of the trail that stinks is by the waste water treatment plant in Franklin, just hold your breath and pedal fast. We will definately be making another trip here in the fall to observe the changing of the colors. Well worth the the trip!
We rode this on our hybrid bikes on July 6 when the temperatures were in the mid-90s. We started in Elmenton and rode about 13 miles to the point where the trail ends and the gravel portion began. Weren't interested in riding that uphill for a mile to get back to the trail. The trail is pretty flat and well shaded, so it was a pretty comfortable ride in spite of the temperatures. Asphalt is in GREAT shape; there are a lot of benches along the way to rest and look out at what's going on on the river--lots of river activity when we were riding, though not many people walking or biking on the trail. The very cool air of the tunnels provided welcome relief from the heat--got a blast of cold air 25 feet before we even reached the first tunnel! Lights of some kind are an absolute must. Rock on either side of the trail is really soft and sloped downward, so very easy to take a spill if you should accidentally go off the edge of the trail (the voice of experience). Someone had ridden horses through the tunnel, so we had to be careful to dodge the presents they left inside the tunnel--due to the lack of lighting it's hard to see them coming before you're right on 'em. Fortunately, a hiker coming out of the tunnel warned us about it before we went in. Only 'facilities' is a port a john at the beginning of the trail in Elmenton. Will definitely do this ride again sometime.
My wife and I have ridden this trail a number of times over the past few years and we've really enjoyed it. The trail is almost completely level, but provides nice scenery is it winds along the river hills. Be prepared for the two tunnels - you will need lights, and I had a moment of disorientation as I entered complete and total darkness, even though the trail has reflectors. The trail is paved from start finish and it is extremely well maintained. The trail is very remote in places, so a patch kit and a biking partner is highly recommended. This is a pretty ride anytime of the year, but it's incredibly beautiful in the Fall.
This trail intersects with the Sandy Creek trail in Belmar. The trails are not directly linked, but you get from one to the other using the "bicycle staircase". Just south of Belmar is Indian Rock, something worth stopping and checking out.
This trail makes for a nice day trip from Pittsburgh - the (southernmost) trail head in Emlenton is 1:15 from downtown. The trail officially continues south to Foxboro, but that segments is unfinished and not recommended for comfort bikers. Someday they plan to expand the trail further south to Parker.
If you're traveling from outside the area I would recommend staying in Franklin - a very nice little town that seems to have perserved better than most small Western PA towns over the past few decades. From Franklin you have access to the Allegheny Trail, Sandy Creek Trail, and the Oil City State Park trail - each of which have their own distinctive features.
My husband and I only rode a few miles on this trail. We parked at the trailhead on rt.322 just before crossing the bridge into Franklin. We actually started out on the Samuel Justus trail which links at that parking area. The trail in both directions was paved and flat, so riding was easy. It was an overcast day, so I think that may have influenced the 2 star rating..... There are picnic tables at the parking area, so packing a lunch is a good idea. The fall colors are beautiful, so I'm glad that we experienced it!
My Daughter and I joined the Allegheny River Trail at the Little Sandy. We followed the trail to Emlenton. The trail is great except for a short portion where the locals did not allow trail builders access to the old railray. You must detour on a rather poor gravel/dirt road. Not fun on our road bikes . . .
We came to the long tunnel and had no lights. We started into the tunnel and could not see out the other side. After a while we could not see our hands in front of our faces and could only go forward walking and feeling the edge of the pavement with our feet. It was creepy! I was just about to suggest that we turn around when we heard voices behind us. Two cyclist armed with great lights were bearing down on us. We joined them and made it through the tunnel just fine. I have been on the trail two more times and made sure to have a light!
There was one more short tunnel before we came to Emlenton, but no light was necessary. The trail is in great condition, an I plan on riding at least one time every year.
On Sept 12,2011 my wife and I rode the ART from Emlenton. We wanted to ride up through the 2nd tunnel but my wife got a migraine and we had to turn around short of the 2nd tunnel. This is a really nice trail! During the 22 mile RT, we saw more deer than people. We didn't really have enough light for the tunnel. You really want a strong light to ride comfortably through. The trail is flat and paved for all the distance we traveled.
We started in Franklin and after 12.5 miles the paved trail ended? It looked like the trail continued but we were on road bikes and did not want to ride thru the sand as we did not know how far the sand/dirt trail was. If there is a paved path on the other side a sign saying the road washed out and the paved trail continues in 500' or something similar would be great.
Last year in April 2009 we did the Allegheny trail near Emlenton. We were RVing in a 29 ft rig. The rails to trails instruction from Google and the map from AAA told us to take Dotterer Rd. to get to the parking area near the long tunnel. What a mistake! This was a one lane dirt road up and around a mountainside with a switch back. It was rather scary! Once we got to the trail head at the edge of a tunnel it was great!! This is a very remote parking spot. There was a wonderful gentleman marking distances on the trail and we talked to him about getting out of the area without going back the road we came. He gave us some great directions and we only had to take one dirt road to get back to "civilization". I realize it wasn't really wilderness, as there were many people and homes on the dirt road. But our suggestion would be to park in Emlenton! We are going to do another section in the same area this year... hopefully we'll have a better experience getting there! :)
To Brandon: Follow PA Route 322 to Cranberry. At the intersection with Route 257 at the Cranberry Mall, turn onto the Rockland Road and drive to the Coal City Road (look for the sign). Follow this road to the river and park at the end of the road. The trail is paved in both directions. To Rockland Station: Follow the instruction to the Brandon trailhead above, but do not turn at the Coal City Road. Continue on the Rockland Road for about 3 miles to Pittsville. Turn right on the Rockland Station Road and follow it to the trail. Parking is at the location of the old Rockland Railroad Station near the north end of the Rockland Tunnel. Another remote access point is at Dotter, which is upriver from Emlenton three miles off of Dotter Road. To Emlenton: At the northern end of Main Street, the trailhead is straight ahead through the parking area. Emlenton can be reached from exit 42 on Interstate 80. Come toward town, down the hill and cross the bridge into Emlenton. Turn left at the end of the bridge and continue to the trailhead. To Foxburg: The trail begins past the restaurant at the southern end of the parking lot.
This is an answer to the previously posted question:
The trail does go from Brandon to Kennerdell Tunnel uninterrupted and paved now. The trail departs from the rail right-of-way inland just a bit to go around and then meets back up with the trail. It's a short, well-marked detour and far better than having to carry your bike over the rocks!
My wife and I spent last week riding the Allegheny River Trial, Justus Trail, Sandy Creek and Oil Creek trails. We really enjoyed all of the trails. We stayed in Franklin and enjoyed the restaurants there as well as the nearby towns. The highlight of our visit was observing the bald eagles near Belmar and the beauty and history of the Oil Creek trail.
We enjoyed our visit just as much as our trips to the Pine Creek and GAP.
Is the section of the bike trail (south of the Brandon bridge and north of the Kenerdall tunnel) completed yet? It's th section where you have to take your bike away from the river and up behind some cottages.
Please be advised that the link listed in my other message is now a dead one. I am in the process of changing servers for my web site. For now, the link http://themanfromvan.tripod.com is a working one.
My pictures of the Allegheny River Trail, the Sandy Creek Trail and the Samuel Justus Trails are on Picasa, however. So, if the link above becomes a dead one before I get all this ironed out, you can see my trail pictures, along with those of some other area attractions, at http://picasaweb.google.com/1themanfromvan
Thanks to everyone who has visited my site in the past !!
"This trail is an hour and half north of Pittsburgh and easy to get to. When riding north on the trail from Emlenton it takes you through a very scenic stretch of wilderness rewarding the rider to a variety of outdoor treats. The trail hugs the Allegheny river cutting through a steep mountainous valley. On my visits to the trail I saw deer, turkeys, groundhogs, hawks and blue herons. The flat asphalt surface makes the pedaling effortless compared to other trails. What I liked best about the trail is the feeling of being away from civilization. The river is lined with summer cottages but not much else. There are no noises or sounds other than what nature provides. The two 1/2 mile plus long tunnels will be the highlights of your ride. Don't forget to bring a flashlight with you or the tunnels will be become a dark scary ""I can't see a thing"" cave. The tunnels are curved so you can't always see the other end. To best navigate the tunnels shine your flashlight at the reflectors on the paved trail and you will be guided to the other end. If by chance you forgot your flashlight you can still get through the tunnels. I just suggest walking and not riding. I am talking from experience."
"If you'd like to see more photos of the Allegheny River, Sandy Creek and Justus Trails go to:
This is my home turf and I ride these trails almost daily when the weather permits. Thanks everyone !!"
"In the summer and fall leave your bike in Emlenton (try one of the B&Bs)and take your car and canoe to Franklin (again, good B&Bs). The canoe trip downriver has many excellent camping sites as it is best done in two days. The bicycle ride back up river is easily done in a day. I did the one day version staying at my brother's place (thanks Larry) in Brandon this fall. Excellent scenery, plenty of wildlife (watch out for raccons while camping), eagles, and time for beer in the canoe between riffles on the river. "
"As fulltime RVers, we use the internet to search for great bike trails in the areas we will be traveling to. We were coming to western PA to visit relatives, and were glad to see that the portion of the trail leading to Emlenton had been paved. Since we were staying at the Gaslight RV park, we were just minutes away from the end of the trail in downtown Emlenton. Although there were no signs, a relative had asked someone how to find it. When we got there we found a paving crew at work laying down and rolling the asphalt. They were friendly and advised us that we could get on the asphalt just beyond the roller. We were the first ones to christen that section of the asphalt.
Unfortunately we had an appointment that didn't allow us much time, so we only rode about 7 miles, enough to get us through the Rockland tunnel.
We planned to ride daily for the week we would be in the area, but the weather did not cooperate. It rained a few days and turned bitterly cold and windy--especially for folks used to Florida weather! So unfortunately we had just a short but sweet experience.
We were just thrilled with the beauty of the surroundings and the quality of the trail.
A reporter for the local newspaper happened to arrive just as we were starting the trail and advised us that signage is coming as are plans for benches on that portion of the trail.
Although we only come to western PA once a year for about a week, we will try to ride this trail every day if weather permits.
Thank you for a fantastic bike trail!"
"My wife and I took the trail from Emlenton, through two tunnels, to the other side of Kennerdell and back. The Emlenton side is newly open, you don't have to sneak over a gate anymore. Make sure you have lights for the tummels. Easy, flat riding with constant views.
The best part was the wildlife. On that one ride we saw 3 deer, two snakes (harmeless), a groundhog, a flock of grouse, an immature eagle just overhead, typical geese and ducks, and an animal we could not immediately identify. It was fox sized with short legs, dark paws and was fast. My brother suggested it could be a fisher, which I didn't think lived in PA. Turns out several were released in Allegheny NF about 10 years ago, so they have made it this far. We took the trail at an off time, on a work day in late July, but there were a few other people on the trail. "
"My wife and I just returned home to Michigan after riding approximatly 60 (flat) miles on this trail. We arrived in Franklin and went to the Country Peddler for a (free) map and some great input from ""Ken"" at the shop and everyone from the trail that stop there daily. They all said ""Do the Sandy Creek first"" which is Belmar to Van. You cross 5 bridges and one nice tunnel. We rode back and went the extra 5 miles west and back for a 30 mile ride. We then rode south from Franklin to just south of Brandon for a 30 mile ride. It was all very nice. Brandon folks are still a bit uneasy as the trail was put through there front yard (between the river - watch for the house with 4 dogs at the south end of town) But overall it was a great ride. South of Brandon is the real Tunnel experience, you'll need a flash light as the first tunnel has a curve in it! We will travel back to do more of this trail. We still enjoy local (Michigan) trails but have decided that Ohio (southern and eastern) are some of the best near us(2-3 hours)to get to. Please feel free to contact me at my e-mail address for a MI / OH recommendation.
"For the past five years, over labor day weekend, a group of us have ridden the C&O canal from Cumberland to Georgetown. This past Labour Day weekend (2004), we rode from Myersdale to McKeesport and back (~3 1/2 days). We loved this ride. The path was nice and mellow and the grade gradual. The only drawback from this ride compared to the C&O ride, is the lack of biker camper sites. We really had to do our homework and figure out where to camp and plan the number of miles we would ride each day accordingly. Ohiophyle was fun. Our favorite camping spot was just shy of Pittsburg at an old cemetary site along the river. We are gearing up for this years ride - possibly from Pittsburg to DC, even though the trail is not yet complete, we'll have to figure out a detour. "
"On Saturday the 30th of April I started off by parking at the Belmar Bridge parking lot of the Sandy Creek trail. I rode across the bridge, crossing the Allegheny River. At the end of the bridge, I had to go down a very steep set of steps. It was raining a little, so the wood was very slippery, and I had some difficulty making it all the way down to the bottom with my bicycle and the trailer I was carrying. At the bottom of the steps, there is a paved trail that connects to the Allegheny River trail, which is also paved. I chose to go North
along this trail up to Franklin. The trail was very scenic, and I passed a few campsites along the way. There are lots of islands, and lots of greenery. At Franklin I continued to ride along the Samuel Justus trail, and camped out for the night along the trail. Sunday May 1st, I broke camp and biked back down the trail from where I came the day before, but continued past the Belmar Bridge heading South along the trail. A few miles down from Belmar, we found the ""Indian God Rock."" This
is a giant boulder on the river's edge that supposedly has Indian carvings on it. There is an observation balcony, but I couldn't see the writings, so I walked down to the rock to get a better look. The Indian carvings are all but gone, but I did see signatures dating back to the 1800's all the way to
the present. This rock is on the National Register of Historic Places, but there were no signs at all to describe what you are seeing. I heard they were vandalized. Continuing South on the trail, we reached Brandon and then kept going till the pavement ended. There is some sort of land dispute between Rails-to-Trails and the land owners, so the trail doesn't continue on the railroad grade, but goes to the left of the trail and turns into a dirt road for about 1/2 mile or so. Follow the blue squares painted on the trees to be sure you are going the right way. The dirt road is muddy, wet rocky and bumpy. It also goes up and down in a few areas, and you may have to get off your bike and walk a little bit due to the steepness and tricky terrain. After that, the paved trail is back again, and I rode all the way
to and through the Kennerdell Tunnel, which is a really cool tunnel. I recommend a good headlamp, because it is really dark inside (you cannot see the other end because it bends at the end) but luckily, the pavement going through the tunnel has reflective markings that guide you along. At the far end of the tunnel there is a beautiful waterfall. Here is where I turned around, and went back to Belmar Bridge. After going up the steep steps (it was easier because they were dry), I went back across the bridge to the parking area and that was the end of my trip. I would like to do the rest of the trail someday. "
"I rode the trail from Franklin to just north of the Kennerdell tunnel on Friday, October 8, 2004. The pavement ends abruptly just north of Kennerdell. There is an old sheet of plywood with the words 'bikes' spraypainted in fluorescent orange pointing up a dirt path. There are private property signs accross the railroad right of way. I followed the path to a dirt road paralleling the river past some homes. Near the end of the road, there were a number of private property signs accross the road. I could see the old railroad right of way behind the houses on the river, but it appeared that the local residents have reclaimed this as their own.
I got the sense from a couple working in their yard that they were not too happy about me contemplating ignoring the private property signs and pushing on towards the tunnel. I chickened out and decided I had enough for one day, and did an about face. When I reached the paved section of the trail heading north, I ran into a local couple who have ridden the trail a few times and wanted to know if I had made it to the tunnel. I explained what I saw, and they told me that there were some local issues with the property owners and they had heard that some games were being played.
Hopefully, they will get the issues resolved. I don't think these folks realize that they are fortunate to have such a great trail so close to their homes. That being said, this trail is a gem. It is a very pretty ride. A side trip up the Sandy Creek trail is well worth the extra effort if you dont mind carrying your bike up the stairs. (Really! The trails are connected by a staircase up the side of a railroad bridge over the Allegheny River.)
I understand that the section south of Kennerdell is now paved and is ultimatly planned to go all the way south to Emlenton. I'm looking foreward to coming back next trip to PA and checking out the two tunnels between Kennerdell and Emlenton. "
"This is one of the best trails in Pennsylvania. They just finished paving from the Kenerdell Tunnel to the Rockland Tunnel, so don't miss this trail. Please bring a flashlite for inside the tunnels."
I live nearby in Oil City and ride this trail a couple times a week (weather permitting). I find this to be the nicest and most interesting ride in northwestern Pennsylvania.
"Our family has been travelling north to Franklin quite often over the past year since we discovered the A.R.T. It's so nice to ride on a PAVED trail with little grade along the river (Samuel Justus Trail) - if it weren't for the water flowing by, it would be hard to tell sometimes if you're going uphill or down.
The Sandy Creek Trail is a real gem - worth the effort to find its trailhead by Belmar. Once you cross the big bridge over the Allegheny River (and over the Samuel Justus Trail), you're in a world of your own travelling up the paved trail through the Sandy Creek valley and crossing all the bridges. You do need to take some care going through the 1/4 mile tunnel - there are no lights, and some sections of bricks have fallen down. But you'll likely see more deer than dwellings - only two houses alongside the creek after the tunnel! Just wish there was an outhouse somewhere along the way . . . but it's not uncommon to travel a mile or more without seeing anyone else, so a quick side trip to relieve nature is not a problem."
"I rode this trail last year, driving all the way from Altoona, PA, to check it out. It's a really nice paved trail; the only other paved trail this long I've been on was the W&OD Trail in Virginia. Started out in Van and rode West on Sandy Creek Trail. Nice bridges and small tunnel to ride through. Crossed over bridge at Belmar, great view of the river, never realized the Allegheny was that shallow. Rode South, checked out Indian God Rock and early American graffitti, then went down to the Kennerdale tunnel. Attempted to go through the tunnel, but that thing is so black inside I chickened out and turned around. My flashlight was about worthless and it was like being in a coal mine at midnight!
Headed up North and rode until end of the Samuel Justus Trail. Never having been in Oil City before I thought it was odd/funny seeing little miniature 6 foot high electric powered oil derricks alongside the trail pumping for oil. The smell from the crude oil brought back memories of the last time I added gear oil to the differential of my one car.
Overall a great trail, I really appreciate the effort and expense it took to pave the trail, and especially the fact that I didn't have to clean crushed limestone dust off me and the bike like after riding on a typical Rail Trail. I plan on visiting this trail again, and can't wait for them to complete the extensions they're working on. "
My wife and I are rec. riders using basic mt. bikes. We enjoyed this ride very much. Be sure and go up on the bridge and try the new trail that heads east from there. There's an old r.r. tunnel about 2 miles further on. Walk it if you don't have a light.
This was our first exposure to the PA rail-trails. We were not disappointed either. A nice peaceful ride along the river. A great family ride.
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