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The waterway implied in the name of the Jim Mayer Riverswalk is the beautiful Stonycreek River. The trail, also named for a local conservationist, hugs its eastern bank, providing a natural retreat in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Johnstown.
The level, crushed limestone pathway—designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2018—offers an easy 2-mile walk or bike ride with trailheads and parking at either end. Along the way, keep a lookout for deer and many types of birds, as well as the 50-foot Buttermilk Falls located mid-trail.
To the northern trailhead: Follow 403 South through Johnstown until it turns into Bridge Street. Just before crossing the river, turn left into the parking next to the gas station. There is a well-marked trailhead.
To the southern trailhead: Follow 403 South through Johnstown and across the river. At this point 403 is called Ferndale Ave. Turn left on Eisenhower Blvd. and cross the river again. Take an immediate left onto Michigan Ave. Pass under the railroad trestle. The road ends here at a parking area and trailhead.
I forgot to put in the last submission that While on the Sandyvale Trail part I tried to take some photos of the supposed sealed up Indian Cave. The leaves are coming out and obscure the view of it :(
I hiked this trail again on Wednesday April 26, 2017. I started from the Hickory St. side of the Sandyvale Trail and went the whole way over to Riverside / Michigan Ave. I seen a tiny Shiny metallic blue beetle (turquoise). Buttermilk Falls was flowing. The last time I was here it wasn't. Seen lots of wild onions. Seen mostly Coltsfoot flower stalks that have gone to seen along with young leaves at the same time. Seen lots of Violets. Seen pink flowers that might be Geraniums. Wintercress was blooming. Seen what might be a patch of Watercress. Seen ducks. Seen Canadian Geese with their young ones. Seen Blue Jay, Chipmunk, and Groundhog. Seen Yellow Shafted Flickers. It was a nice day and a nice hike :)
An update to the Jim Mayer Riverside Trail. Behind the old U.S. Steel Corporation across Bridge Street next to the Ferndale Bridge, the trail now extends to Central Avenue. I believe this trail segment is still under construction, but it is safe to walk or bicycle on—it’s a good trail surface. Check the signs before entering, maybe it isn’t open yet. At the Central Avenue entrance, Coal Tubing has its offices and bus-boarding area. Across Central Avenue, another trail segment is under construction.
This trail segment is next to the river, and from a aerial view the trail and river make a horseshoe curve behind and across the river from Johnstown High. It ends near the Hornerstown Bridge on Horner street. As of this writing, the trail just described is very rough. I wouldn’t recommend walking or biking until it’s finished.
The new trail segment from Bridge Street to Central Avenue adds a nice corridor, and the new segment from Central Avenue behind Johnstown High gives a nice surrounding view of Johnstown High when traveling over it. This new segment also gives a view of the river and some views of the neighborhoods.
To me it appears as if the trail might eventually lead over to Sandyville Cemetery, but I can’t say for sure. It would be nice if it did!!
Johnstown is very lucky to have trail like this one being developed in it!
The Jim Mayer Riverside Trail is a short one. It connects Riverside to Bridge Street in Johnstown, and is about 1.5 miles in length. The trail was once a local railroad line owned by the U.S. Steel Corporation. Both trailheads, one in Riverside and the other by the Ferndale Bridge next to a gas-station, have parking.
Greater Johnstown Area Residents are lucky to have this well maintained and so easily accessible trail in their back yard. Many local residents can walk to one of the two trailheads, and other nearby residents have just a short drive.
The trail does have some interesting sites, like the old streetcar bridge only a short distance in from the Ferndale Bridge trailhead. And farther along, a railroad spur-line once crossed the Stoneycreek River—an old support pillar in the river and the cement base next to the trail can be seen. Other railroad artifacts such as old signal boxes, light or electrical poles, and steel rails that are embedded in the trail are visible. And fishermen are often in the Stoneycreek, along with ‘Tubers’ and an occasional Kayak or two.
It’s a nice, short trail that serves Johnstown and the local municipalities that surround the city.
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