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The stars in the Big Dipper and Little Dipper help navigators locate the North Star. Following the five stars in the Five Star Trail—the municipalities of Hempfield Township, Youngwood, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, and Greensburg—takes travelers on a more northeastern tack. All five towns in the constellation partnered to create the nearly 7.8-mile trail southeast of Pittsburgh.
The route travels a transportation corridor shared with a major highway and an active railroad through the Laurel Highlands. It’s used for recreation and exercise, but the trail is also useful for alternate transportation, as it connects five towns, a community college campus, and a city park. Most of the path is crushed stone, though a 0.9-mile segment in the southern portion runs along a street.
The trail follows the former path of the Southwest Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation bought the corridor from Conrail in 1995. Today the rail-with-trail shares the route with the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad, a short-line railroad that runs trains from Greensburg south to Smithfield.
Plenty of parking is available at the Lynch Field trailhead in Greensburg. The town got its start soon after the Revolutionary War, when an inn was built here on the road between Fort Pitt and Philadelphia. Later, universities (Seton Hill University and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg) and museums, such as the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, helped make it a cultural center.
Stay on the Five Star Trail in Lynch Field, as bicycles are prohibited on side paths. You’ll cross a bridge over Jacks Run, which accompanies the trail south to Youngwood. Then the path enters a tunnel to cross a set of railroad tracks and emerges in a residential and commercial neighborhood. There are establishments for food and drink as you pass through Greensburg, as well as the other four stars on the trail.
Hugging the tracks of the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad, you’ll pass through commercial zones in Southwest Greensburg and South Greensburg until you finally escape the sprawl at about mile 2.8. For the next 1.6 miles, you’ll share a valley with the railroad and US 119.
The trail is interrupted at Trolley Line Avenue, mile 4.4, and you’ll have to take the shoulder for 0.9 mile. Reaching Depot Street, you’ll see an old railroad station and blue caboose across the tracks. This 1902 Pennsylvania Railroad depot is the Youngwood Historical Museum, which has exhibits on railroad history as well as a gift shop and restaurant.
From the end of Trolley Line Avenue, you can go straight ahead for 0.6 mile to East Hills Street. To the left, 200 feet east on Depot Street, the trail heads 1.6 miles through the Westmoreland County Community College Campus to Armbrust Road in the community of Armbrust.
The annual Five Star Trail Poker Run is a walk/run/bike event in July that raises money for the trail.
To reach the Lynch Field trailhead in Greensburg from I-76, take Exit 75 for US 119/SR 66 toward Greensburg, and then keep left to merge onto SR 66 Bus. N. Go 0.7 mile, and continue straight onto SR 66 Bus. N/US 119 N/S. Third St., and go 6 miles. Turn right onto E. Pittsburgh St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn left onto Arch Ave., go 0.3 mile, and then turn right onto Beacon St. Almost immediately turn right again onto Roosevelt Way. In 0.1 mile turn right onto Scott Blvd. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot just before you reach Lynch Field Path (across from the aerobic center).
There are no parking lots on the southern endpoints of the trail. The best place to start at the southern end is the Youngwood trailhead on Depot St., near the Youngwood Historical Museum. To reach the trailhead from I-76, take the directions above to SR 66 Bus. N/US 119 N/S. Third St., and go 1.3 miles. Turn right onto Depot St., and go 0.1 mile. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot, just after passing the Youngwood Historical Museum and the train tracks. The trailhead is at the southeast corner of the lot. To reach the endpoint at E. Hillis St., access the trail at the southeast corner of the lot, and head southwest 0.6 mile down the trail. To reach the southernmost endpoint in Armbrust, turn right onto Depot St., go 250 feet, and turn right onto the Five Star Trail. The southernmost endpoint is 1.6 miles farther south.
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