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Built in 1871 to transport the region's high-quality limestone to support Pittsburgh's growing steel industry, the Butler-Freeport line was the first railroad in Butler County. After a two-day celebration of the opening, the railroad conducted a mock funeral for the stagecoach that ran between the two towns. A branch of the Western Pennsylvania Railroad, the line became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system in 1903 before closing.
The Butler–Freeport Community Trail on the corridor, open since 1989, is nestled in the scenic wooded valley that follows Little Buffalo Creek to Buffalo Creek and on to the Allegheny River at Freeport. About an hour northeast of the City of Pittsburgh, the trail is flat and easy to ride. Heading south from Butler, you'll be on a slight incline. The trail surface changes from crushed stone to dirt to asphalt.
Remains of old stone quarries and brick kilns can be seen in the southern section of the trail. As you head north from Cabot, the results of late 1800 development are still visible. The former Saxon City Hotel, built in 1871, remains as does an old but still-active lumberyard.
From April to October you can see an abundance of wildflowers, including trillium, Turk's cap lily, tall bellflower and butterfly weed. The trail is a popular recreation venue. Visitors come to enjoy bird watching and fishing, and the annual fall Buffalo Creek Half-Marathon always attracts a crowd. Before leaving Freeport, stop by the Freeport Area Historical Society office, where you'll find a wealth of information on the cultural and industrial history of the region.
The Butler–Freeport Trail Council maintains a passport-oriented historic geocache adventure, with up to 20 caches along the trail. Check their website for details.
There are numerous trailheads and places to park long the trail's route. At the trail's southern endpoint in Freeport, park at the southern end of Main Street near Butler Road (State Route 356). At the other end of the trail in Butler, park in the lot near Father Marinaro Park on Kaufman Drive, site of a new trail bridge over Coal Run.
Parking is also available in Sarver (Sarver Road); in two places between Sarver and Freeport (Bear Creek Road and Monroe Road); Cabot (Winfield Road); Herman (Brinker Road or Bonniebrook Road); and between Herman and Marwood (intersection of Becker Road and Great Belt Road).
The trail is 20.5 miles in length. We started in Freeport and rode north to Butler. The first 13.5 miles is uphill. When you return, you will find an easy ride. From mile marker 16.5 to 20 is downhill to Butler. The trail will end at a parking lot .5 mile past marker 20. The trail is mostly along a stream and through woods. Many people seem to use this trail on weekends. My favorite part between mile marker 17 and 17.5. There are signs that you are entering a shooting range. CAUTION. I guess if you hear a bullet coming you are to duck. You will also bike past a small shop for bicyclists at marker 15.9. At the highest point on the trail at 13.3 is a historical sign about the area and the old railway. It is wide enough for two riders except between 16.5 and 19.5. The grass through the years has grown in on the sides to narrow the path to about 3 feet wide.
The spacing of the bullion are narrow. I have a 32 inch width recumbent and I can barely fit through, least of all without damaging my fenders. The club is obsessed with keeping quads out but they do not understand that quads are much much wider than 33 or 34 inches. Mothers and ADA riders beware. You may not be able to use the trail. Other trails are not like this. Use them! They were warned about this when they paved the upper section which a few key members use but nothing was done. The spacing is the same.
I live close to this one so I do it often and really like it. It is narrow at times but normally isn't crazy busy. Last few times been a lot of leaves so little to no mud or puddles. It is slightly uphill from the Freeport end for a pretty long while maybe the first 12 miles or so. It is really unnoticeable until you head back and you gain a few mphs as you are riding.
We parked at the new lot across from Fr. Marinaro Park just outside of downtown Butler. This is at mile marker 19.5
We biked to Sarver, and back.
First few miles out of Butler are an uphill climb, which is good, as it makes the return trip a breeze.
Trail is various widths some only 3' wide to 10' wide. Trail surfaces are loose limestone, packed limestone and dirt. Some sections of the trail were nothing more than a few passable ruts. Photo's posted of various trail surfaces.
Porta johns along the trail only in the Summer.
A nice trail though you will see woods and fields.
Been riding this for years, very well maintained, multiple trailheads, a cool coffee and ice cream stop on it.. Park at end on the freeport trailhead and head to wolfies pizza 2 mins away gor a post ride meal.. It gets a lil narrow in spots so be careful of oncoming riders.. One of my fave western pa rails to trails
Very nice trail in good shape too. We only went a few miles from the Trail Head by Father Marinaro Park and it was enjoyable. We saw a few joggers and cyclists too. We had no issue pushing our baby in a stroller on the path either. The trail does narrow in a few places but is still plenty wide.
Started at the Sarver Rd. lot and went to Butler, turned back and went to Freeport, Then back to Sarver Rd. lot.
Scenery is a lot more wooded and tranquil Sarver - Freeport. Although all the tell-tale ruins of a once large RR industry and still working farms make for an interesting ride to Butler. I wouldn't park in Butler, but the Sarver trailhead lot is big and well used. plus there is a nice pota toilet there.
Small paved section towards Freeport. Very nice from Sarver Rd - Freeport. A few washouts and rough spots towards Butler. Watch hitting some of the bridges if you don't have a front suspension. They are a little high off ground level!
Ugh. This trail is "okay" but nothing great. It's nice, simple. It's a trail going through a beautiful canopy of trees for almost the entire ride. If you're expecting any scenic bridges or vistas or water, this isn't it.
The trail surface is patchy. Shortly outside of Freeport, it's actually paved for a little way. Most of it is crushed limestone. Large sections are just dirt, which is fine, I guess; but there were several patches where there was fine, loose pebbles covering the trail, pretty deep (2-4 inches thick). A wipeout waiting to happen. Be sure you have a hybrid bike -- not road.
Locals should enjoy it. If I lived in the area I would certainly use the trail for jogging (if I were a jogger!). For bicycling, it's just "ugh." Thing is, there are so many other nicer trails in the area. The Allegheny River Trail is much nicer, especially up at the Oil CIty end.
This trail was nicer at the Freeport end. The Butler end wasn't great.
I was staying at Moraine State Park with my family for the week. I regret that I spent one of my precious bicycling days on this trail. Sandy Creek Trail is MUCH nicer: better surface, better maintained, MUCH more scenic.
In fact, just go out to Moraine State Park -- maybe 20 miles or so: they have a beautifully maintained, fully paved, MUCH more scenic trail going around Lake Arthur. Heck, get some ice cream at the end of the trail by the bike shop. Not very long -- 11 mi or so -- but if you make it a round trip, there's your 20 miles or therabouts. In the summer there's a beach house and swimming area.
Ugh again. I digress. Bottom line, this trail is "okay" but I certainly wouldn't consider it a "draw" or attraction of any type for anyone not from the area.
We rode another section of this trail in the Spring. We wanted to complete the entire trail.
So this September we parked near the Fire Department in Sarver. There is a parking area there and a port o john.
We headed towards Freeport. Surface was rough. Gravel. On the plus side, it was downhill.
The trail goes along the Buffalo Creek. Crossed some small bridges.
The trail isn't that bad except for the gravelness. Some sections of the trail aren't all that wide. Like maybe foot path width.
There is a wide section of the trial near the water treatment plant which is under Route 28.
The wide section is going to be paved soon.
There is a short paved section down in Freeport.
Continue to the end (or beginning) in Freeport. There is a parking area in Freeport.
If you have a mountain bike or would like to hoof it, in Freeport where the trail ends, you can venture down to the river.
In Freeport is also a marker mile 0. It's in the weeds.
In a nutshell, trail is gravel.
We had a very nice ride from Butler to Freeport. The surface was well kept up, the benches along the way were nice to see. However, the directions to the trail head in Butler were wrong, and we saw only one road marked so that we really did not know where we were most of the time. The mileage markers were fine, but we wanted to know more about our location. If someone would put up a sign on the "old access" in Butler on Kaufman Rd. explaining how to go on down Kaufman, turn left on Zigler and go ?miles to a parking area that would be great.
We started at Freeport got as far as Buffalo twp fire company,before the clouds moved in and let lose. The trail was nice to ride. Shady so if its hot out its still a good ride. We will get back out to ride more of this trail.
This would be a five-start rating except that the Butler end of the trail is difficult to follow from Father Molinaro Park. The "sharrows" on Zeigler road are so faded that I missed them and had my wife not seen them we would never have figured out how to get on the trail. Once we were on the trail (Ziegler road can be busy, use caution till you get on the trail!) it was a great surface. Slight incline for a while then you get over the hump and start downhill. We rode in about 10 miles before turning back to Butler. The section past Jones farm is a bit "aromatic", if you will. If you're used to farm smells it's no big deal and the breeze kept it to a minimum when we rode past. Some great old buildings at Cabot and the Dittmer house and store along the trail as well. Also saw an old railroad car truck (wheels) along the trail about a mile in from Butler. Good ride, good trail. Butler just needs to get the bridge done so there won't be the need to ride Ziegler Road to get to the trail, and until then, the "sharrows" need repainted so they can be seen.
The trail is great. We started in butler. A slight incline that is definitely felt up to Cabot. It flattens out in the middle with a few slight hills and down hills. The scenery ranges from woods to farm land to rushing creeks. The ride into Freeport is a breeze as it's all downhill. There's not much in the way of refreshments or food if you're in need but there is one little shop that has a vending machine in Marwood and the golf course (between Herman and Great Belt) has a small restaurant. The portion that runs along the creek is beautiful! The ride back is a little rough as it's a good incline but nothing too painful. Trail maps were available at multiple locations as well as port-a-potty's. The 40 mile round trip took us 4 hours with a short stop to rest in Freeport,a bathroom break along the trail, and a few stops to check out the scenery along the creek. I like to bike but hate hills and I was able to handle this ride. This was my first ride over 12 miles. Definitely worth doing, at least once!
My fiancée and I have recently moved to Freeport. We have just begun walking on the trail in March 2013. We have only done the Laneville to Sarver(Monroe Rd.) section which we walk almost daily. However, this section has given us so much pleasure! We have found just in the last couple of days four different baby animals that we have never had the pleasure of viewing in the wild before. Just today we saw Crayfish in the creek, a baby snake that we think was a Copperhead in a puddle along the path, birds that we cannot identify in what looks like a Humming birds nest in a branch hanging just about ten feet over the trail(But it is not a Humming bird), Tiny little Tree frogs hopping across the path, We also saw a pair of Pileated woodpecker's last month, and we could never forget the many squirrel's and chipmunks that are a treat to watch running along and across the trail.
We would like to post a picture of the baby bird and nest that we saw hanging over the trail. The picture is somewhat blurry, but we are hoping that someone can identify what type of bird it is. Like we said it is a baby in a nest that looks just like(size & structure) a humming birds nest but the bird is not a humming bird.
Once again we would like to say what an Awesome trail this is!
The trail has been restored since the sewer project to my knowledge is finished 2012.A wonderfull trail close to home for a weekday ride after work or a weekend trip.A very beautiful trail in the fall..... The parking lot in Cabot is back to normal no construction !!!.Heading north on the trail from Cabot you will pass thru a golf course,that has a place to eat."Romes Cafe" Heading south on the trail there are a few beverage vending machines 1-2 "normally empty"Pack your water and snacks "....be prepared!!!.........at the Bufflo Twp.Firehall parking lot,then to the town of Freeport,in town there are a few places to eat I will post later. If nature is calling there are a few Port a Potty's along the trail near the Bufflo Twp. Firehall....That's it Bike Shop Nearby Michael's Cycles 2015 Burtner RD. Natrona Heights 724-226-3200 M-F 12p.m.- 7 p.m Sat.10-4 p.m.
I did not see this for myself, rather, I emailed the trail organization. They say the sewer work that had some of the trail torn up last summer is complete and the trail surface has been restored to standard condition with crushed stone. I have yet to ride the northernmost part of this trail, but the part I have covered is very nice. I'm going to give it 5 stars now that the sewer work is out of the way.
My wife and I parked at the Old Mill parking area. Plenty of room and felt safe enough. The trail is mostly crushed stone with some old pavement. It seems very isolated and I liked that. As you should expect, it is uphill from Freeport. We managed to get to Sarver and discovered the construction work. The trail has been repaired but after a week of tropical storm Lee, it was very soft and since it was still raining, we turned around. The trip back was easy and fun. We did have to swerve around 1 nice black snake sunning itself.
Hopefully the next time we try this trail it will be sunny and dry.
I rode the trail from Freeport to just north of Winfield Road 8/5/2011. The parking area at the southernmost end in Freeport, under the Buffalo Street (PA128) bridge is closed due to construction. The second Freeport parking area, at Old Mill Road is open and in good condition. The trail is fine up to Winfield Road (Cabot). North of Winfield Road, there is sewer work adjacent to the trail. Heavy equipment is using the trail for access. The crushed stone surface is gone and what remains is rough dirt. There is no "Closed" sign, so one can proceed, with caution. I saw a few bike tracks. I think you need fat tires for this. I have 35mm tires and found I didn't want to continue beyond about 300 yards. After rain, this is going to be plenty muddy. The trail website mentions the work as being between Sarver and Cabot. What I saw was north of Cabot, while the Sarver - Cabot section was fine. I do not know when this work will be finished.
The final four miles from Bonniebrook Rd. to Butler will be under construction starting
September 14, 2009. Drains will be put in and a final crushed limestone surface will pave
your way to Butler City. Check www.butlerfreeporttrail.org for updates.
Me and my brother took this ride on Fathers day to remember our Father that isn't with us any more.We loved the trail and maybe we will take our own kids to ride with us it was fun and something new.
" Recently, we biked this trail. This was our first mountain biking trail ride. it was very enjoyable. We biked from the Cabot trailhead to the Butler end at the Summit township building. It was very senic, and peaceful. We got to meet other freindly riders. The Jones Rd. trail head was the nicest, but there were many other nice places to stop and rest. All in all it was a great trip!"
"I have been riding this trail for several yrs now. Starting at Sarver Fire Hall and ending at Herman, an 18 mile ride all together. Lots to view, such as farms, riding through a golf course, wooded areas and a nice creek to follow along side, lots of Spring wildflowers and an important birding area, where I have spotted lots of indigo buntings, turkey, warbles and such, and listen to my favorite summer bird the wood thrush. It is a pleasure spring, summer, fall & nice x-country skiing in winter. One of my favorite spots. If you wish you can start at Freeport for a much longer ride 32 mls, all together, up hill 16 mls. Take a picnic basket ..lots of benches and tables to stop and rest!"
"My review is about the southern most end of the trail. The trail has since been finished on the Freeport end. There are two new parking areas. One under Laneville bridge and one off of Old Mill Rd in Laneville.
The section of trail in Laneville is asphalt, while the rest of the trail which goes north to Monroe Road in Buffalo Twp., along big Buffalo Creek, is crushed limestone.
It's a beautiful trail. The woodlands are full of wildlife. The Buffalo Creek Valley, where the trail is located, is designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society.
The Freeport portion of the trail was resurfaced May 11th to repair damage resulting from Hurricane Ivan. No more ruts or potholes!
Round trip from Laneville to Monroe Road, Buffalo Twp. is approximately 8.5 miles.
It's a wonderful ride...come and enjoy!"
"This trail has more faces than Jeckyl and Hyde. In Freeport it starts out as rough-rolled railroad ballast (street bikes beware!), then becomes a rough asphalt access road for a water treatment plant for about a mile and a half, starting when it crosses under Rte 28's massive bridge. Then its single-track packed dirt for a couple of miles, then improved limestone for more miles. Then untrimmed single track through the weeds.
The trail presently ends at a township line at a ""Berlin Wall"" barrier erected by a golf course to prevent trail riders from crossing on the trail's right-of-way, which runs right smack through the middle of the golf course. They've also appropriated about 1/2 mile of trail for the use of their carts.
Total length: About 14 miles one-way from Freeport.
Beware - washouts abound this season. Wait until it's been dry for a couple of days before riding the length of the trail. Back in June one 30-foot washout area was so bad that it was impossible not to get ankle-deep in mud if you walked through it (and you didn't want to ride through it because of the gullies).
But all in all it's a pretty good trail when it's not too wet. It will be better when it extends into Butler, but golf courses are worse to deal with than irate trail neighbors (who usually will listen to reason).
"We started our ride at Sarver and rode south, going a couple miles south of the water treatment plant. This southern most portion of the trail is not completed so we headed back north after a couple miles on the larger gravel.
We rode to the northern end of the trail. This trail has a steeper grade than normally seen on rail-trails. The section south of Sarver is as pretty as any trail I have ridden. My wife Cathy and I really enjoyed our day on this trail."
"My wife and I live in Florida and were vacationing in the Pittsburgh area this past week and based on other reviews of this trail and a local book ""Freewheeling Easy"" we decided to ride this trail.
We parked at the Sarver trailhead and headed south. It is a beautiful, slightly downhill ride along the creek. The spring flowers were a pleasure to see. I was only expecting to be able to ride for about three miles or so, but we were able to ride all the way to Freeport!
I'm sure glad that we had our mountain bikes with us because after about three miles of developed trail we came to a gravel road that led to a water recycling plant, continuing through the parking lot we rode on some larger gravel stones along the trail all the way into Freeport.
Returning to Sarver and after eating a lunch that we had brought with us we headed north. The ride started out with a lot of blooming wildflowers along the side of the trail and also along the creek down below. The farther north that we rode the more the trail opened up to pastures and farmland we even rode through a Golf Course. Delightful!
I was somewhat surprised by the golf course and lack of warning signs for it, though. We crossed right in front of a teeing area.
I had read somewhere that the barriers that had been placed along this trail were supposed to been removed and that was the case for about seven miles or so until we got to Summit Township. There we found the trail blocked by a large amount of brush and an old metal barrier. We easily climbed around this barrier and we were able to ride another mile or so before the trail just sort of disappeared.
All in all we had an enjoyable 33 mile ride. The only problem, other than the barrier in Summit Township, was the lack of any restroom facilities along the trail and no place for water or snacks. We only passed two stores along the way and they were both closed. Porta johns would be a nice addition and maybe they are available during the summer months. "
"This trail is very scenic, especially the southern portion that parallels Buffalo Creek. My brother, recently returned from many years of living and biking in California, was particularly impressed with the quality and scenery along this trail."
The southern sections of this trail are beautiful & I love walking them. There's a slight grade plus there's streams & woods all along the way....very scenic. I do agree though that restroom facilities of some kind are greatly needed especially if you want to walk or bike several miles.
"A great setting in the woods, along working farms and through small villages. Friendly folks riding, walking, jogging and horesback riding."
"This is one of the more unusual Rail Trails I've ridden on because of the varying terrain and trail surface. The trail has a mild grade uphill for most of it's length from Freeport towards Butler. The trail surface varies greatly along it's length from standard wide crushed limestone, to narrow singletrack.
I started at the Sarver trail head and rode South towards Freeport. The trail has a mild downhill grade in this direction, and the surface is the typical wide crushed limestone surface until the Monroe area. The trail follows a small stream along this area and is very scenic. After Monroe the trail turns into a paved access road for the water treatment plant under the Route 28 bridge. At the water treatment plant the trail is unfinished but very rideable with a hard packed dirt and gravel surface, similar to a forest service road. The trail just dead-ends in a neighborhood in Freeport at this end of it.
From Sarver towards Butler the trail has a mild uphill grade and is the standard wide limestone surface until Cabot. After Cabot the trail cuts through the middle of a farmer's field and is a very narrow singletrack strip of trail and dirt until near Marwood. The trail surface here is very poor compared to the standard Rail Trail being very narrow, and with some washouts and ruts along the center.
At Cabot there is a bar/resturant and the Pit Stop convenience store. North of Marwood the trail changes from wide trail to narrow one and varying degrees of surface. I rode up the unfinished section of trail, past the golf course up until where it dead ends in the woods just past a pond on the left and a farm field. This end of the unfinished section is just narrow limestone, dirt and cinders.
The area of the trail south of Cabot is the most picturesque and wooded, while the section North of Cabot is mostly semi-open farm land and woods. The closest trails in Pennsylvania I could compare it to would be the Clarion-Little Toby Creek on it's Southern end, and maybe the Houtzdale Line Trail on it's Northern end.
Despite the previous person's review the trail really isn't that much like the Youghiogheny River Trail because the stream it follows is much smaller, and the trail is much closer to it. Also, because of the widely varying trail surface there were several places above Cabot where I thought I'd already reached the end of the trail, but after looking at the map I realised I still hadn't reached the Northern end yet. "
"There's no port-a-johns or restrooms anywhere on this trail. What an inconvenience. I enjoy riding many miles. We went 7 miles one way and three miles the other. There were four parking areas but no outhouses at any of them. There are many benches along the trail. This was my second time on this trail. I was last there in the winter. The trail is very soggy in the winter. The trail is woodsy, along a river. It's very senic. It's similar to Ohiopyle without the people and restrooms. There's a grade on this trail. If you go back going downhill, it's a good ride. "
the area from butler to herman is passible but about one milr south to freeport is impassible due to a barricade adjacent to a golf course hope this problem is corrected soon so butler people can enjoy the beauty of this area the presidnt judge issued a ruling on july 3lst 2000 that all obstruction are to be removed along the 21 mile stretch this litigation has been going on for years time will pass summit twp by as the other three townships have promoted the trail and benefited from this effort please contact your summit twp supervisors that do not have a vested interest to accept this treasure for future generations thank you
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