Bells Gap Rail Trail

Pennsylvania

Bells Gap Rail Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Blair, Cambria
Length: 6.3 miles
Trail end points: Bellwood and Lloydsville
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Dirt, Grass
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6241686
Trail activities: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Bells Gap Rail Trail Description

The Bells Gap Rail-Trail is really two trails in one-a flat 2.1-mile southern section with smooth crushed limestone surface, and a rougher, more difficult northern section best-suited for mountain bike enthusiasts or hikers seeking a challenge. Horseback riding is permitted on the grass edge of the trail.
The southern 2.1 miles of the trail consist of fresh crushed limestone surface. There are several covered benches on which to rest and enjoy the scenery. After the first 2.1 miles, the trail abruptly changes to an unimproved game lands trail that consists of dirt, ballast, and grass. The trail ends at Route 865 in Lloydsville; there is no trailhead or parking here.

Parking and Trail Access

To Bellwood trailhead: From I-99, take exit 41 onto 865 toward Bellwood. Continue north on 865 for approximately 2.5 mils though Bellwood to Igou Road. Turn right on Igou Road; parking at the trailhead is immediately to the left. There is a small sign on 865 for the Bells Gap Trail at the intersection with Igou.

The southern 2.1 miles of this trail is wheelchair accessible.

Bells Gap Rail Trail Reviews

When I read rules that specifically state all dogs are to be leashed, that is what I expect. The only reason I go to any of these Rails to Trails is for the safety of my dog considering the cities of Altoona and Hollidaysburg both have no enforcement, and I mean zero even in school zones, for rules concerning leashed dogs.

I do not want to meet other dogs, my dog does not want to meet other dogs, and if the truth be known, it is my dog who will become stressed and aggressive.

If you know anything about dogs, you would understand a leashed dog will feel the need to protect themselves against a dog running LOOSE. As on any given Rails To Trails in this area, Lower Trail included.

I do not believe your conservatory is part of 6 to 10 in Duncansville, but you know, idiots are everywhere.

Finally got another one of those Pennsylvania Railroad tower name origins here... "BELL", for, not only BELLWOOD, but for the BELLS GAP RAILROAD junction here, which was right at the PRR station! Great photos in that "BellwoodAntis" website! You get two miles of STEEP, I mean the STEEPEST trail I have ridden in my 730 miles of rail-trail outings! That stated 3.5% is compounded by large washout gullies which have been filled with inches-thick layers of crushed limestone, which make the grade tougher going up, and downright dangerous coming down! (Hug those brakes the whole way back!) The improved trail ends at 2.0 miles from the lower trail head, and I ventured only a few tenths of a mile farther on the 1938-abandoned high grass right-of-way, with protruding rocks, old ballast, and cinders, especially after I almost ran over a black with yellow bands snake on the trail, near the site of the once largest viaduct of seven (which I believe I've identified as a TIMBER RATTLER!) It might be wise to do the upper end of this trail, MP2 to Lloydsville, after the frost and cold weather sends these creatures back into hibernation! Watch that high grass and single-lane bike path right now! There are no railroad artifacts visible on this trail, but the Boy Scouts did, very intelligently, place several significant, and very informative markers at spots, And as most of the markers I've seen get vandalized, these paper markers are locked, behind glass, in cases facing AWAY from the damaging sunlight! Good job, guys! Great information on the railroad and its history, so much lacking on so many of the rail-trails I have scoured! Again, forestation is a scenic killer right now. Without leaves, this would be a pretty dramatic setting! PA-965 climbs the Allegheny Range right paralleling you, but falls off hundreds of feet below as you ascend to Milepost 2. Sadly, pre-trail encroachment never allowed the trail to get down into Bellwood proper, but do check out the junction site at the Station Street pedestrian overpass. BELL Tower was located west of town, and its interlocking spanned the once four-track (now three) PRR main lines, and spun off the Bells Gap Railroad (later the 65-mile long Pennsylvania Northwestern Railroad), as it was, in 1887, extended to Punxsatawney, PA. You can ride the OTHER end of this railroad WEST of Punxsy, on the 15.5 mile MAHONING SHADOW TRAIL. I highly recommend that ride.

Rode the trail for the first time today on horseback - very enjoyable, nice grassy footing along the sides, with interesting historical markers. Gamelands part has gorgeous vistas of Allegheny Front, and even has some curves.
Directions to parking could be improved. There is no sign for Igou Rd., only Grandview Rd., which says "no outlet" and that's the road you want. I passed it by the first time and went all the way to Lloydsville before I could turn the trailer around. Not complaining, just saying maybe the directions could better.

Accordion

This is a very nice trail, with a 3.5% grade going uphill traveling north. I rode my mountain bike on it this afternoon and really enjoyed the scenery and the beautiful woods. The first two miles are a very smooth cinder trail, the next 3 miles were a grassy with ballast gravel, but a good surface. I did not cover the last mile or so. The ride back (south) was wonderful, all downhill. There are several signs along the trail giving the history of the railroad and industry in the area.

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