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Stretching 12.6 miles through south-central Pennsylvania, this rail-trail follows the route of the former Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad, a standard--gauge railroad founded in 1852 to carry coal—the black diamonds of Pennsylvania—to eastern markets. By the end of World War I, coal mining on Broad Top Mountain reached its peak, and the need for the railway began a slow decline; the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad declared bankruptcy in late 1953 and shuttered its operations early the following year. History buffs take note: The Everett Railroad Station Museum, 3 on-road miles from the southern trailhead, offers more on the railroad and history of the surrounding area (Saturdays, April–October).
Tracing a relatively flat path from the community of Tatesville, located in Everett in the south, to Riddlesburg in the north, the upper half of the trail closely parallels the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River as it too flows north. There are no water fountains along the trail, and only one permanent restroom is available at approximately the midway point, so plan ahead.
From the trailhead at Tatesville, the pathway quickly plunges into a forested canopy that provides shade in the summer. A little more than 4 miles of pedaling along the crushed-stone path brings you to a 1930s-era railroad trestle spanning the Raystown Branch. The bridge, about 250 feet long, is perhaps the visual centerpiece of the Huntingdon and Broad Top Rail Trail, delivering lovely views of the river that you’ll be following for the final 6 miles of the ride to the northern endpoint.
Shortly after crossing the bridge, state game land will be on your right. Hunters can use the trail, though they are not allowed to discharge firearms from it. Nevertheless, you may hear gunshots year-round, particularly in late fall and winter. Wildlife in the area include deer, turkeys, and even bald eagles.
As you leave the state game land behind and approach the small town of Hopewell, the surface changes to a coarser stone pathway that you’ll share with cars accessing the Coopers Recreation Area. Primitive restrooms are available here. Camping is allowed, as is RV parking, though there are no facility hookups available (call the Hopewell Township administrative office at 814-928-5253 to arrange camping). A large concrete pad is all that remains of the Cooper Sawmill, once a major industry in the area and a producer of the creosote used to preserve railway lumber. This spot offers easy fishing access to the river.
The trail is entirely on road through the small town of Hopewell (population less than 250), but the route is well marked. In town you’ll pass by the Hopewell Train Station, the original train depot. While the station is not open for tours, the nearby Keystone Foundry Museum is (June–September, Saturdays and Sundays, 1–4 p.m.). The foundry, which served as a production and repair shop for the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad, features a collection of tools and equipment seemingly frozen in time the day the facility shut its doors for good in 1935. In an area once brimming with blast furnaces, foundries, and other iron industry sites, the Keystone Foundry alone has survived. Note: The museum is operated by volunteers from the nearby senior citizen center; call ahead to ensure the museum is open and staffed: 814-928-5111.
The trail picks up again on the north end of Hopewell with smooth crushed stone underfoot once more. With fairly consistent views of the river, you may well see kayakers and canoeists in warmer weather. The path comes to a trailhead with parking a little more than 2 miles later in Riddlesburg. The trail is open 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. The actual endpoint of the trail is another two miles north at the Red Cut picnic area, although there is no parking there.
To reach the southern trailhead in Everett, take I-70 W to its end in Breezewood, past mile marker 148. Turn left onto US 30 W, go 7.5 miles, and take the exit toward SR 26 N/Huntingdon/-Raystown Lake, and go 0.7 mile. Continue onto the Bud Shuster Bypass, and go 1.9 miles. Bear right to stay on the Bud Shuster Bypass, turn right onto SR 1009, and go 0.2 mile. Continue on Plank Road, go 0.1 mile, and take a sharp left into the trailhead parking lot. The trail begins just across the street from the parking lot on Plank Road.
To reach the northern trailhead in Riddlesburg from I-99 N, take Exit 7 for SR 869 toward St. Clairsville/Osterburg, and turn right onto SR 869 E. Go 3.5 miles, turn right to stay on SR 869 E, and go 5.1 miles. Turn right onto SR 36 S, and go 3.8 miles. Then turn left onto SR 26 N, and go 6.8 miles. Turn right onto Six Mile Run Road, and then take an immediate right onto Newton Road. Look for parking immediately on your left.
To reach the northern trailhead in Riddlesburg from I-99 S, take Exit 23 for SR 164 toward SR 36/Roaring Spring/Portage, and go 0.7 mile. Continue onto SR 164 E, and go 3.3 miles. Then turn left to stay on SR 164 E, and go 10.9 miles. Turn right onto SR 26 S, and go 3.7 miles. Turn right to stay on SR 26 S, and go 4.7 miles. Turn left onto Six Mile Run Road, and then take an immediate right onto Newton Road. Look for parking immediately on your left.
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