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The Armstrong Trail connects riverfront towns along the east bank of the Allegheny River as it winds through the lush Allegheny Plateau. The flat trail, currently 35.5 miles, follows the river downstream from Upper Hillville to Rosston, passing relics from the area’s railroading and industrial past.
The Allegheny Valley Railroad began laying tracks in 1853, and by 1870 the railroad ran between Pittsburgh and Oil City. Absorbed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1900, the corridor went through several ownership changes until the Allegheny Valley Land Trust acquired it in 1992 for a trail. Court challenges delayed construction of some trail sections, resulting in today’s mix of surfaces, which include asphalt and crushed stone.
The Armstrong Trail is part of the 270-mile Erie to Pittsburgh Trail that will run from Presque Isle on Lake Erie to Pittsburgh’s connection with the Great Allegheny Passage (see page 74); it’s also part of the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s developing 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. In addition, it connects with the Redbank Valley Trail (see page 200), which runs east from the Armstrong Trail for more than 40 miles and includes a 9-mile spur leading to Sligo.
East Brady is the best place to start for an uninterrupted trip down the trail. A closed tunnel the railroad built as a shortcut across a river bend isolates an orphaned 4.5-mile crushed-stone segment upriver. You’ll travel on short stretches of gravel road as you leave town.
Just past Phillipston in 2 miles, look for an old railroad turntable left over from the days when the railroad serviced locomotives here. In another 1.2 miles, you’ll see the southern entrance to the 0.5-mile 1915 Brady Tunnel; future plans call for renovating and reopening it to connect the northern segment to the rest of the trail. In a little less than 1.5 miles later, you’ll pass the coaling tower used to replenish locomotives from 1930 until 1957, when diesel power replaced steam.
The junction for the Redbank Valley Trail and Sligo Spur is just past here, joining the Armstrong Trail at the confluence with Redbank Creek. The Armstrong Trail rolls nearly 2 miles to Allegheny River Lock and Dam 9, built in 1938 as the farthest upstream navigation impoundment (a dam located farther north is for flood control).
Over the next 7.5 miles, the route passes through small communities to Templeton, where you can find a diner and a campground. You’ll pass another dam and lock structure a little over 2 miles past Templeton, and 4 miles later you’ll come to a junction with the 1.2-mile Cowanshannock Trail, which climbs uphill along a spur line that served a coal mine and brick plant and today passes Buttermilk Falls in Cowanshannock Creek.
In less than 2 miles, you’ll enter Kittanning, named for a Shawnee and Lenape village that was destroyed during the French and Indian War. Today it’s the largest borough on the trail and home to a wide variety of restaurants, as well as the old train station at Grant and Reynolds Avenues. Continuing south takes you to Ford City, founded in 1887 as the company town for Pittsburgh Plate Glass, at one time the largest glassmaker in the nation. The company left town in the 1990s, but the worker’s entrance is preserved at trailside Memorial Park.
The path ends just a couple more miles past Ford City at Rosston Boat Ramp. Beyond the dilapidated bridge over Crooked Creek, the Kiski Junction Railroad continues 9 miles via the old Allegheny Valley Railroad corridor.
To reach the Sarah Furnace Road trailhead, which provides the only parking available for the northern section of trail, from I-79, take Exit 99, and turn right to head east on US 422/Benjamin Franklin Hwy. Go 15.9 miles and exit onto PA 68/Chicora Road. Turn left, and go 10.8 miles. Make a slight right to continue on PA 68, and go another 8.4 miles. Just after crossing the Allegheny River, turn right onto PA 68/Kelly’s Way. Go 0.4 mile, and turn left onto PA 68/Third St./T581. Go 4.1 miles, and turn left onto SR 3006/Sarah Furnace Road. Go 1.9 miles, and look for on-road parking on the left at the trailhead. The trail dead-ends north and south from this point.
To reach parking in East Brady from I-79, follow the directions above to PA 68/Third St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto Robinson St. Go 0.2 mile, and take a slight left onto Shady Shores Dr. Go 0.1 mile, turn right onto a short access road, and then immediately turn left into the parking lot (adjacent to the East Brady Maintenance Department). Facing the trail from the parking lot, turn right and go 0.3 mile to reach the endpoint.
Additional parking is available at East Brady Playground & Skatepark, which is located at the corner of Robinson St. and Shady Shores Dr. From Third St., go 0.2 mile, and then turn right onto Robinson St., and go 0.2 mile. Take an immediate right turn into the access drive for the park, and look for parking on the left. To reach the endpoint, turn left onto Sixth St. and go 0.1 mile.
To reach the trailhead in Rosston from I-79, take Exit 99, and turn right to head east on US 422 E/Benjamin Franklin Hwy./New Castle Road. Go 36 miles, and take Exit A onto PA 66 toward Ford City. Go 1.2 miles, and bear right onto PA 128/Fifth Ave., and then go 1.8 miles, and turn left onto Ross Ave. Go 0.8 mile, and stay straight onto Ross Cir. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left to stay on Ross Cir.; then go 300 feet, and look for parking to your left at the Rosston Boat Ramp.
Nicely maintained stone dust trail with several points of interest along the way including a couple locks, an old railroad coaling tower, and several historic towns. Some pieces of this trail are paved near towns, but watch out for the rough patches where tree roots are breaking up the blacktop.
Rosston to East Brady is Complete. Phase 1 of the Renovation of the East Brady Tunnel has began. Completion of this tunnel will further the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail into becoming a reality!
trail was well maintained. rode right along river. we started at cowanshannock trail and headed up river. parking easy to find. mild grade nothing exceptional. after bike ride, we walked cowanshannock trail to see buttermilk falls.
My wife and i ride all the rails to trails in western pa, and this is our favorite.. We park at snyder park above Kittanning usually and go up river, its a perfectly maintained trail, easy grade, a joy to ride.... U can start at snyder park some days and ride a 20 mile loop up and back down the river to park and see less then 5 riders in the 2 hour trip...
I rode from Kittanning north to East Brady after having a difficult time trying to even locate the trail in the southern end of Kittanning. An easy to find downtown trail head would be helpful. Once located however, the trail is very well maintained, scenic and a great ride. Be sure to bring enough water as there were no obvious places to refill or buy refreshments. Once the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is completed this will be a great place for distance riding. Mile markers are already installed reflecting the completed trail.
From just outside Kittanning to Rosston it's a short ride passing through Ford City. It felt more like a nice leisurely ride for the locals. Nothing remarkable there and in need of signs to help riders negotiate the breaks in the trail. We got on the road for a couple of miles not realizing we needed to make a sharp right turn to link up with the trail again, and we weren't sure where to pick up the trail when we got off the road. Saw some cyclists and followed them. The short forested section could look nicer. We also rode thru Kittanning the first day and ended the ride at the Allegheny Mariner restaurant, where we started the next day. Much nicer and interesting from there to the end in East Brady with the Allegheny River on the left, two dams and locks, bridges, coaling tower, Brady tunnel and turntable, which needs a sign with some history. The bridges would be nicer if they had open rails to see the river as you pedal thru. Need a sign pointing the way after the turntable and after passing a new subdivision being built where there's a small white sign I totally missed. The trail ends abruptly after a boardwalk in East Brady. We decided to bike through the neighborhood and down to the town. It'll be nice when it's connected to the Erie Canal trail. There's a small park with a couple of parking spaces and no benches where I suppose the trail ends for now.
Started in Brady on the Armstrong Trial and drove about 5 miles to Red Bank Creek and the start of the trail at the Allegheny River. Well signed and with interesting history signs. Very good condition.
4th of July 2015 we biked from East Brady to near Templeton.
We grabbed lunch at Subway in East Brady and headed on the trail, which follows the Allegheny River. You park somewhere in East Brady, we were not sure and driving around and a
kind resident pointed in the right direction and told us where
to park. Once parked you ride nearly a mile on gravel road where people live, to get onto the limestone trail. We past some houses and camps along the trail and went through a campground. Since it was the 4th of July, there seemed to be a lot of picnics! Just out of East Brady is the Phillipston Turntable. Then the old Brady Tunnel, South Portal. Can't go in, it's closed. Went up to it, it has a lot of water in it.
Stay on the trail is Redbank where there is an old coaling tower. Also the intersection of the Redbank Trail. Continue on to lock and dam #9 on the Allegheny River, then along the trail is Hook Station which is some houses and a rock that reads Hook Station. Farther down the trail is Gray's Eddy, an old village with a beautiful waterfall. Nice to stop there and walk around. There is a power plant across the river you can see it. We went to the blue bridge and turned around and headed back to East Brady. If you park in East Brady and bike towards Kittanning, it's downhill making the return trip uphill! We saw a deer along the trail and there were some boaters on the river.
As a family co-owner of the property known as Gray's Eddy which has been in our family for nearly 100 years, BE ADVISED THAT THIS PROPERTY has been posted as a BIOSECURITY AREA which restricts all trespass or face fines up to $2000 and jail time of up to one year. The Armstrong Trail Organization has rights to only the stone culvert and a 50 foot right of way....that being 25 feet either side of the center of the original tracks. The property is not open to the public and foot traffic throughout the property, its streams and its riverfront are prohibited. The Armstrong Trail Organization has posted signage creating a false sense that Gray's Eddy is a "destination point" to serve the selfish vision of its Director, Ron Steffey. It is NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. It is private property and trespass will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. KEEP OUT.
Before the snow buried our trails for the winter months, I just had to make a short inspection of the south end of the undeveloped trail north of Brady Tunnel. I had never been there, and I wondered how usable this section of the trail really was. I had Googled "Sarah Furnace PA Images" to see a couple of SPLENDID steam era shots, including the large railroad yard once there on the wide river bend. Also, I was quite curious about what kind of condition the other end of Brady Tunnel was in. One drops down the long 1.8-mile hill off of PA-68 via Route 2006, directly into the little settlement of Sarah Furnace, a few houses, some summer camps. The trail is in the same condition that the trail south of the tunnel was in until its recent improvement and surfacing. I headed south down the old grade. It's ridable, a mostly dry surface of steam era cinders and small railroad ballast, with tall weeds weeds growing right up next to the roadbed. It looks like the ATV's are the ones keeping the the trailbed open. I was pleasantly surprised to find Allegheny Valley cut stone milepost 71, its double-sided identification flat numbers long worn off, just north of the tunnel. While the south portal of Brady Tunnel is in good shape, despite the defective overhead drainage flume, the north portal is a complete mess. A large hole has opened up in the tunnel roof, behind the portal, where water is pouring in (See my gallery photo). Pieces of corrugated pipe which apparently drained the water away from the tunnel are lying above the collapse hole and inside the tunnel on its floor. The tunnel floor inside looks dry, though, and there is a drainage cut into the river beyond the very muddy and waterlogged tunnel approach. There is only a very obscure remnant of the shelf along the river south of the tunnel where the pre-1915 (keystone date on this portal, too) mainline once carried the line into and through East Brady. Now back northward. You can see the spoils of the old coal mine north of Milepost 71, and the widened right-of-way where the mine sidings must have been. An upright short pole may have held a "block-limit" sign after the signal system was doused. At Sarah Furnace, right where Route 2006 drops into the 90-degree turn to the road paralleling the right-of-way, there is a neat large concrete culvert carrying Catfish Run under the railroad bed. It must be in dubious condition, as it is blocked off by large concrete blocks, like those used to block both entrances of Brady Tunnel. Careful observation near that culvert reveals signal stands and wires protruding up out of the ground where one of Brady Tower's "CP Madison" [Controlled Point] remote southbound signals once stood. There were once two tracks between Sarah Furnace and Brady Tower, later reduced to one (the old southbound) track for better clearances through the tunnel. There is supposed to be a trail parking lot somewhere around Sarah Furnace ("Catfish"), but my preliminary investigation showed no such lot, nor any access to what looks like a gated off right of way north of the Sarah Furnace settlement. - Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 12-27-2014.
After the construction of Brady Tunnel in 1915, the Pennsy stub-ended the southern end of the former main line Allegheny Valley's East Brady river loop at the depot in East Brady. This "East Brady Branch" stub continued in service, through Phillipston Yard. The 1.17 miles between Phillipston and East Brady was abandoned on May 9, 1962, and Conrail closed Philipston Yard, and the line south from the yard to Brady Tunnel, in the fall of 1982. Heading north from Brady Tunnel, the trail runs through the wide expanse of what were the multiple tracks of Phillipston Yard. The Phillipston turntable remains in place, but is rumored to have been sold at this time. At the north end of the Yard, many residences in the "town" of Phillipston have been largely abandoned. One of these properties displays a MASS of railroadiana clustered around it, apparently the home of a deceased railfan whose property is now an abandoned estate. The property looks like a little railroad museum! There are like six AVRR stone mileposts (no numbers on them), metal milepost 64 (where the southbound Redbank home signal footers are also located), Conrail's Phillipston station sign, a telegraph pole with crossarms and insulators, a railroad phone box, a Pennsy Street sign, and more. Pretty interesting! Pennsy obviously pulled what were the multi-track concrete "bridges" at the south end of the yard, and the apparently much longer abandoned line segment looks more like an old dirt road heading toward East Brady. Trail Milepost 67 is the last marker you'll see. Nearing East Brady, the trail has been rerouted off the old railroad grade, around riverfront properties, higher up on the hillside, on the coarse gravel, hilly new riverfront property access road. You can see the old grade and some culverts, down near the river. At the East Brady sewage plant, the trail drops back down onto the railroad grade approaching the town, and becomes a rough dirt, then manicured asphalt walking trail. The trail ends at 6th and Purdum Street, 3.7 miles from Brady Tunnel. There is a section of mainline rail in the former grade crossing here, and a freight track entering a building at the trail terminus. There is NO parking at the end of the trail here, but there is a large, paved parking lot at the sewage plant at the east end of town, on Shady Shore Drive. Just don't assume that this is the end of the trail, as I almost ignored the unmarked access down the rocky, steep lane leading back down to the last mile of the trail into East Brady, as I almost did, at the sewage plant parking lot. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 1-11-2015.
Heading north from Mosgrove, we encounter beautifully repainted ex-AVRR cut stone Milepost 50. Arriving in Templeton, with its HUGE trail and river access parking lot, you'll see another rare double-figure ex-PRR cast iron milepost, #54/78, indicating that you are 54 miles north of Pittsburgh Union Station, and 78 miles south of Oil City. Rimer, at Trail Mile 59.4, has a little, 2-car trail parking space. Look for possible station remnant walkways on the east side of the trail as you head north through this substantial little riverside settlement. Measure 1.5 miles north from Trail Mile Marker 61, and there you will see the southernmost remnant of Pennsy's "Brady" CTC control plant. Those concrete bases on the east side of the trail were the footers for the position light home signal directing traffic into and through the Redbank Interlocking complex, its coaling station now visible 2 miles to the north on this very scenic river bend. Crossing the double-track bridge just north of Red Bank Station, with its single remaining telegraph pole and triple crossarms, into the junction with the PRR's Low Grade line to the east (today's Redbank Trail), we approach the classic concrete Red Bank coaling station, an amazing steam era remnant. The junction is at Mile 63.5, and the coaling tower is located at Mile 63.6. I was delighted to see the Red Bank Trail with a brand new limestone base layer curving away to the east. Latest data shows that new trail segment heading to the east for only about one mile. Now, measure 1.0 miles north from the coaling tower, and witness that concrete base on your right. This was Pennsy's "BRADY" Tower, a WW2 traffic control upgrade project (1944) two-story brick tower which housed a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) machine, from which whose operator controlled switches and signals from Mile 62.5 to the south end of Oil City. I was so relieved to see that the trail upgrade and new power line projects here had not scuttled this significant historical treasure! The tower stairway, basement, and first floor survive, 30+ years after the tower was closed by early Conrail! This was a NEAT place, and we are still not quite sure exactly how "BRADY"s 24/7 operators reached this very remote setting. I'll conclude this chapter at the south portal of Brady Tunnel, which sliced through the river bend 0.2 miles north of BRADY Tower. This curved tunnel cut off MILES of riverside loop running down to and through East Brady, when it was built in 1915 (cornerstone atop portal). Its cross-portal wooden water flume is completely rotted out now, and the tunnel has is flooded with a few feet of water in it at this end (more on the other end in a later report). They will continue the trail northward through Brady Tunnel at a future date, but I found some MAJOR damage at its north portal which I am sure will make that reopening many years away. So sad, but this tunnel has obviously always been a railroad maintenance headache. -Rich Ballash, 1-10-2015.
I "closed the gap", so to speak, on my late 2007 early rail artifacts study of the lower end of the Armstrong Trail yesterday, onboard a special railfan photo excursion on the Kiski Junction Railroad, originating down at Schenley PA (11 miles south of Ford City). As I recall, I headed south from Rosston in late 2007, on the crudely finished trail, and I made it 4.0 miles before the jaggers, huge water puddles, and mud stopped me "dead in my tracks" (Pardon the pun). I had high hopes of seeing this trail connected to the Pittsburgh trails some day. Yesterday, my fellow trail enthusiast and long-time friend Ed Waugh and myself boarded Everett Meehling's Dynamo Productions' trip with about 50 railfans on their special photo run, and our KJRR crew answered many questions which both myself and many other people have asked about the "vanished" lower end of this trail. The owner of the railroad down there has rebuilt 9.9 miles of the old railroad, north from Schenley, up to a point just south of Rosston. The trail, and most recreational access to the river edge south of Rosston, has been increasing sealed off, due to railroad vandalism and abuse of the restored railroad property. From Mile 0 at the old AVRR river bridge at Schenley, a smooth and expensive new single track, with steel ties and welded rail, extends to the KJRR's new coal mine at Mile 8, and from that point, new double track reaches Mile 9.9 just south of Rosston, to shift those long coal train around. Many people have ignored the KJRR's No Tresspassing signs, and people have even knocked some of them over. Be warned!... You will be subject to arrest if you encroach on this property! The railroad has tried to respect people along the river, but they have not had that respect returned, so you are warned to please keep out. Back in 2007, I pried my way south on the undeveloped, 25-years' abandoned and overgrown right-of-way, to old AVRR Mile 36, six miles north of Schenley, to a point exactly as far south as to where our train made it north to from Schenley yesterday. So sadly, at least for now, there will be no Armstrong Trail south from Rosston! There is room for a trail alongside the new single KJRR track, but I don't know about room alongside that two miles of double track north of the coal loader. Let's just hope that some kind of an agreement can be made to allow maybe a "Rails-With-Trail" venture with the KJRR and its new property some day. Oh, and finally, regarding railroad artifacts on this stretch, there is but one! An original, unmarked AVRR cut stone milepost (I believe it is Milepost 33) remains in place, just south of KJRR Milepost 4. And for all of you trail enthusiasts out there, I definitely do recommend a cool ride on the KJRR's regular tourist train operation (May through October) to recreate a part of that beautiful, relaxing riverside trip that Pittsburgh-Buffalo PRR passengers enjoyed until 1941. It will really bring to life, and compliment, your appreciation of the historic treasure which the entire Armstrong Trail has become. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 11-1-2014.
We continue or railroad artifact exploration north from Kittanning. Leaving the outskirts of Kittanning, the trail turns from asphalt to crushed limestone, a nice fresh surface, and we are alone with the river. As for mileage markers, we see a change from classic Pennsy mileposts to something newer and something much older. Beginning at Mile 46.25, the trail loses its PRR markers, and the trail is now marked with wooden, white markers with black numerals, marked at 1/4-mile intervals. In this trail segment, you will see two original cut stone Allegheny Valley Railroad milestones, #48 and #50. Although I've noted several of these in previous reviews, and remember that these things are well over 100 years old, these are the first two where I detected at least one raised "A" on their 4-facet top faces. #48 has no mileage markings, and is located down at the riverside directly down from wooden trail mile marker 48. I had to pull the weeds out from around totally obscured #50, which has been nicely repainted in white with the numerals nicely painted, on two ground smooth and flat marker faces. There is a nice double track bridge (as this line once was), with classic PRR railings, on both sides of the bridge, at Mile 47.5 Unfortunately, the raised "PRR" lower stanchion markings have long since eroded away. A new historical installation has been recently installed, at Mile 48.1. Monticello (iron) Furnace was installed here in 1859. A brand new plaque states that the railroad was extended to this point in 1865. The furnace supplied high quality pig iron from 1866 to 1875. Although the furnace stack was removed when the railroad was further extended, the installation's stone retaining wall remains, along with the furnace's riverside slag pile. This was Cowanshannock Station, and there was a depot and 200 homes here at one time. You'll pass under the ex-B&O viaduct high above at Mosgrove at Mile 49.7. In the last two miles, I encountered not one but TWO six-foot long black snakes, each sunning themselves, stretched out over the width of the trail. As the tall weeds run right up to the edge of the limestone trail here, keep you eyes open for such creatures. I'm always kind of wary when riding on closed in trails like this. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 9-20-14.
Update courtesy my good NS friend, Eric Johnson:
Nice report on the Armstrong Trail. Another on the list to do for me. Some good artifacts you found, so noted.
As far as the new railroad south of Rosston is concerned, this is the Kiski Jct. Railroad, not involved with Norfolk Southern. The railroad was built with public and private funds and is currently owned by Rosebud Mining Co. They have the mine in Logansport that ships coal by rail. Recent rail activity has been slow of late, not much coal moving by rail from here at this moment in time, just spot orders for coal to several power plants. The revived railroad is of very nice construction, all welded rail, good ballast and steel railroad ties. There is a 130+ car length runaround track in Logansport to handle a train of that size. I had the pleasure of riding the line just after it was finished, a lovely ride along the Allegheny. From what I could see, no artifacts along the line. Also the new track was built in the center of what was once the double track to discourage bike riders, campers, fisherman and trespassers, from getting tangled up with a train and potential vandalism. A portion of the area from ghost town Johnetta south does have a road along the active track to allow people to their homes and camps that have been there for years. As you may know the Kiski Jct. operates the old Schenley Industrial Track that runs from Schenley to Bagdad to service the Allegheny Ludlum/ATI mill there. Armstrong Terminals is another customer in Schenley proper that gets an animal feed ingredient and anthracite coal by rail. And KJR runs excursions on the line too, mainly to Bagdad I believe.
The lower end of this trail has it all, every kind of trail surface and environment, and LOTS of preserved railroad remnants! (See Photo Gallery) I covered trail (and former PRR from Pittsburgh) mileage from Rosston (MP39.0) to the northern end of Kittanning (MP46) on this trip. Scarily, NS has restored the former PRR Allegheny Branch track from way down at its Conemaugh Line main to just about a mile south of Ford City, to service a new coal mining operation. No more trail south of Rosston! From the abandoned railroad grade at Rosston (lots of parking there at the boat launch area), you'll encounter ballast and cinders, a single track limestone trail, smooth asphalt, and some back street running. I enjoy these varied trail types... You won't get BORED, for sure! Since people seem to get lost plying Ford City, I've endeavored to document where you turn to NOT get lost. From the boat launch at Rosston, ride south over the railroad bridge to see the new track south of town. Then, head north on the old railroad grade (ballast, grass, and cinders) out to where the old railroad grade crosses and parallels the paved road north. The official trail picks up just a 1/2 mile north of the boat launch lot, at MP39.6. Mile 40.0 was where "FD" Tower sat, a complete interlocking plant on the PRR. Crossing the new PA-128 Allegheny River bridge approach, the haunting bare fields of the former PPG plant site come into view on your left. Stop and see the plant entrance tunnel and train station site at stone mile marker 41. A nice bathroom complex is available here, too. The paved trail ends and dumps you out onto 3rd St. Turn left - Observe the paralleling railroad grade. When you get to 17th St, get back on the railroad grade trail. Then, after another 1.2 trail miles, turn left ONTO and down Butler Street (toward the river) to Water Street. Turn right ONTO Water Street (the street along the riverfront). You'll see stone milepost 43 in the private yard at right, just before you descend under what was a railroad overpass. You will turn a sharp LEFT here and climb back up and onto the railroad grade. From here north, there will be no more confusion. Just stay on the railroad grade. The big blue bridge you pass under is US-422. This is a nice, shady, woodsy trail segment. As you enter Kittanning, observe cast PRR the cast iron whistlepost right and cast PRR Milepost 44 left. The former brick PRR passenger depot and enginehouse are located at Mile 44.6. Love the big, beautiful gold brick fishbone style platform, just like our ex-PRR Amtrak platform down here at Latrobe, only unused since 1964, 50 years ago! Wow! Note how the half century of trees have pushed up the edge platform bricks. The depot houses a massive collection of private storage. It appears that nothing original survives inside, not even original interior walls. I don't know what is housed in that sealed up enginehouse beside the depot. Heading north, you'll soon encounter a rare pair of the old and new mile markers. Early Conrail's (post 1976) metal highway style mileage Marker 45 aits right beside the Pennsy's old cast iron marker. There was a little spur yard here (Google up "PRR tower ford city - prr interlocking diagrams - FD-Brady 1957" to see a track schematic of my whole report area [and beyond])! Nice! I turned around at Mile 46... Enough for this fascinating, historical trail segment. There is so much to see here... So much history! It's a five-star trail segment, for sure! Enjoy the ride! Oh, and be sure to check out my earlier trail reviews on this line much further up north, way up above Oil City! Cool area up there, and very beautiful! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 8-30-2014
My husband and I ride this trail frequently. We park at the East Brady municipal bldg. The first 1/2 mile is shared gravel road with new homes. The rest of the trail to Templeton is crushed stone with a small part (100yds or so) shared is Phillipston with a paved road. The bridges are now fixed with crushed stone as well. Nice ride along the Allegheny. It is about 15 miles from the municipal bldg. to Templeton.
After being disappointed by the first 8 miles of the Redbank Valley trail, the Mrs. and I struck out north on the Armstrong trail. The first thing we saw was that mammoth coal tipple, all made out of concrete. I fully expect that structure to outlive me. Continuing north we came across the portal to the closed Brady Tunnel and the old flume above it. I'd really love to see this tunnel opened, but there's an awful lot of water coming through it to be taken care of first. Continuing upstream we entered where the railyard was at Philipston, and there's a waterfall next to the trail that drains under the trail through an old cut-stone culvert. The culvert is in phenomenal shape. Next up, just off the side of the trail is the old turntable where they used to turn the engines around. Hard to believe it's still mostly intact out there in the middle of nowhere. Then a brief distance further the trail peters out into Brady's Bend. We turned around there and headed back. The surface has clearly just had work done to it and is in phenomenal shape. I'm looking forward to riding the rest of this trail later this season!
Had a hard time finding the trial in Kittanning and the parking area north of Kittanning. The 422 bridge is under repair ... only one way traffic west. I was coming from the east and the detour makes the printable trail directions very confusing. The trail is in good shape save one area about 20 yards long with very deep very fine gravel. Definite accident point for fast travelers. At the first unfinished section north of Kittanning, I was verbally challenged but three men digging a new perhaps un-permitted access to the river. Simply moved on. The balance of the trail was in great shape. Thank you trail maintainers. However, someone has opened the gates and there appears to be 4 wheeler tracks on the trail. Not sure if there was a crew working further north than I traveled.
I had the good fortune to ride the Armstrong Trail from Templeton to East Brady on a beautiful blue sky Friday afternoon.
The trail is now 99% complete from Ford City to East Brady. The local trail council has done a tremendous job! The freshly graded trail is in wonderful condition, new benches have been installed, drains have been put in place. Its great to see so much work over such a short period of time. I just wanted to share the good word based on previous comments of "rough ride" and "not ready for prime time".
The scenery is beautiful with the Allegheny River and the surrounding river hills. There are also several cools historical sites, including Locks #8 and #9, as well as the coaling tower and railroad turnaround near Phillipston.
There a still few small sections where larger stone is still in play, but these are all very short and rideable, and did not detract from beauty of the ride. 1) Work in progress around Rimer - will most likely be completed before winter 2) The bridge surface over Redbank Creek 3) The final stretch into East Brady right before the paved section.
The trail will be beautiful in the coming month with all the Autumn colors.
We started at the Cowanshannock picnic area and headed South. The trail was great with views of the river and some old left overs along the side from the possible trail stops. Once you come into Kittaning the trail parallels beside the road but is completely separate. You'll need to stop at each intersection but cars are polite to let you pass. It was nice to be able to travel through the town without being on roads. Once you leave Kittaning and cross under the 422 bridge the trail sort of disappears. We made a few wrong turns and finally started riding on the road through Manorville. We eventually found the trail again at Ford City. This section is well paved and has great views of the river. There are little exercise stations at intervals which seemed nice. We followed the trail over 5th's avenue until it seemed to end in a dirt trail. We turned back and found where we lost the trail coming in. It travels through back yards on grass/gravel/dirt. It was poorly marked and very hard to find, we lost and found it numerous times until we made it back to the 422 bridge underpass. Overall the trail wasn't bad, just a little tricky to find. We'd to it again but travel North to see what it has to offer.
Where is the trail?? I found a railroad and road around an old industrial park. I went further north and found Logansport Road and followed that through an active coal mine to the river. I came across a railroad here too. Does this trail exist anymore or not? I drove up towards Ford City and I couldn't find any signs directing me to the trail. I'm assuming it's a railroad now and didn't work out? Complete waste of my time driving up there.
We're in our late fifties, ride for the fun of it, and live on the Westmoreland Heritage trail, near Saltsburg Pa.
The Armstrong Trail is not ready for prime time. At least the 4 1/2 miles from East Brady to Redbank creek. It's hard to find the unmarked miniscule parking lot in East Brady, there aren't any signs pointing to the actual trailhead, and its a confusing and tortured path downriver to the bridge over Redbank Creek. Most of the section delivers a bumpy, jangling, ride, with most of our time spent concentrating on missing rocks and potholes, instead of being able to look around and enjoy the ride.
Our advice: Enjoy the many other trails in Western Pa. and wait for the Armstrong Trail to improve.
I use to get on the trail at logansport where an old smokestack was a marker. Now there is a railroad there. How is it possiable for what I thought was a land trust to allow a railroad to be built in the middle of a biketrail. So much for ever joining oil city with the point in Pittsburgh, much less going to DC.
My wife and I selected a rainy 70 degree day to explore the Armstrong Trail. We parked in Rosston and then rode north to MM 49. From the parking lot to the trail is 1/2 mile on a nice uncongested local road. We were pretty happy once we were able to get off the road and onto the paved trail. Passing through Ford City, the trail is just perfect! At the north end of Ford City and through Manorville, you are forced onto local roads. we chose Water St? along the river and did not pass a single car. At the power plant we regained the trail that is now crushed stone. Crushed stone is not that good when wet and no fenders. I did enjoy this part of the ride to Kittanning. Through Kittanning, the trail is either paved or on local roads. Again, no traffic issues on the roads. To the north of Kittanning, the trail becomes crushed stone and I immediately had a flat tire. We walked back to Paul's Auto Parts/ Bike shop ( 2 miles) and as my tube was replaced, my wife's tire went flat. Those are the first flats we ever had. Off again heading north. Enjoyed the ride till MM 49 where the trail surface got worse and it appeared the trail led through fishing camps. The trip back was uneventful till we got home and discovered flat # 3. Aside from the flats, I really liked the trip. I had been looking forward to it for a long time and was not really disappointed. Round trip, including the backtracking for flats, was 23 miles.
My wife and I rode this trail for the first time on June 4, 2011. We parked at the Bernard C. Snyder Picnic Area and began at Cowanshannock Trail, a supplement of the Armstrong Trail. This was our first ride in which we were able to pedal to the bottom of a waterfall. We had a close-up encounter with both a groundhog and snapping turtle on the Armstrong Trail. Despite our attempts, we would not locate the Ore Hill Iron Furnace, we suspect it is overgrown with weeds. In Templeton, we had to refer to our map, but we were spotted by another couple experienced with the trail who were kind enough to show us the way. Gray's Eddy was the most interesting point for us. We would like to explore this area further in the future. There are several unmarked but well-traveled trails here; however, we were scared off by a wild animal. Overall, our experience was positive. There were not many people on the trail, but the ones we encountered were very friendly. This was the first time we saw a lock and dam up close and we had fun riding under the railroad bridges. Some of the bridges were in various states of disrepair, but were able to be safely traveled across. The bridge before Grays Eddy was very fun to ride over due to its bumpy surface. There is a tree down on the trail, but it can be biked around. A path is already being worn around it. We thought that it was sad this trail doesn't get the publicity that other trails nearby do. Our only regret was that we missed the Pine Creek Underground Winery. We recommend bringing a map with you, we referred to ours often.
Yesterday, 07.26.2010, I went online to get the trail map and directions to the Armstrong Trail. I followed the directions to Aladdin road but saw no signage regarding the trail. There were large stacks of steel rails, as if a new railroad was to be built and there was a railbed that was being widened, graded and cleared of trees and other large foliage. I asked a local resident where the rails-to-trails trail was and he pointed in the direction of the construction work going on. He said someone was actually building a railroad, like a short scenic railroad.
I set out on the railbed in an effort to see how far I could go or if I could anywhere at all. I was able to navigate 7.5 miles up the trail and could go no farther because of the heavy construction that was underway. Beyond that, the trail was impassable, even with a mountain bike. Along that 7.5 mile ride I encountered several heavy construction vehicles laying slag, chipping trees, and grading. The riding was very difficult, very bumpy, and, at times, impossible requiring me to walk the bike for varying distances. You could see sharp bits of metal and glass in the material they were laying down on the railbed. I did, in fact, get a flat on my return, fortunately only a quarter mile from my car.
I wanted to be sure rails-to-trails is aware of whatever is happening to this segment of the Armstrong Trail. I don't know how long a segment of the trail is under construction and if this part of the trail will be available in the future as a bike trail. It would probably be a good idea to update the information on the TrailLink.com website to inform riders that they should pick up the trail beyond where the construction is taking place. I drove 65 miles to get to this trail and the trail wasn't a lot of fun :(
We rode from Ford City to Templeton and about 95% of it is great! There are some areas where you ride in a quiet residential area on the streets with little traffic. Can't wait to try some other area trails.
We rode from Ford City to Templeton and found the majority of the trail to be in great condition. Although in some parts you do ride on streets, it is in small towns and not a lot of traffic. Scenic areas and friendly people along the way. We are anxious to try other areas on this trail!
Much of the trail cannot be ridden unless one has a mountain bike....it seems the rails and ties were removed, but the "gravel" is the size of that used on the railroads. It is also not well marked. The section in Ford City is nice, though.
What I like about the armstrong trail is the lengh of the improved sections. Although there are a few missing short sections you can ride 34 miles round trip. The newly completed Cowanshanock Trail is a real asset to the armstrong trail. It starts about 5 miles north of kittanning at a real nice park and follows the very senic cowanshanock creek to buttermilk falls about 1.5 miles. If you are a geocacher there are several caches along the entire trail.
I rode from Ford City to Templeton about 15 miles (one way). Just a beautiful ride. Great trail.
The view is great. The trail has potential. Difficult to find and a rough ride.
The trail has recently been expanded with some new crushed sandstoen sections. Where the trail is complete is real nice.
Trail is in good condition from Ford City (route 128) up to about one mile north of Rosston. We rode it in September of 2005 -- areas still being surfaced with crushed sandstone base -- so trail was closed at our turnaround about one mile north of Musgrove(spelling?). Kittanning riverfront park is also kind of neat (nice restrooms) and beautiful park. Mulberry Creamery is a must stop -- across from riverfront park in Kittanning. Park is bout 0.5 miles from bike trail in Kittanning.
"The trail head was difficult to locate at Schenley. Once I was on it the scenery was great, but the surface was covered with old ballast, making it impossible to ride."
"This is a beautiful trail that is unfortunately marred by broken glass, garbage and active dump sites. There are people driving cars, motorcycles and ATVs on this trail. Much work needs to be done to make this a useable trail.
**NOTE FROM RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY**
Trail users disappointed with the condition of the Armstrong Trail can consider volunteering to assist with the maintenance of this trail. See http://trfn.clpgh.org/avlt/ for the Armstrong Rails to Trails Association's Web site (they are the local group that works directly with this rail-trail)."
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