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Deep within the Allegheny National Forest lies a rail-trail with a past. The Kinzua Valley Trail follows the route of the former Kinzua and Hemlock Railroad (later Valley Railroad) near the town of Westline. The railroad fueled the economic vitality of the area from the early to mid-1900s, transporting harvested wood to local lumber mills. As more trees were felled, lumber production slowed, and removal of the Valley Railroad tracks began in the late 1930s.
In the 1970s, people began using the route informally as a cross-country ski trail. After forming in 1999, the Kinzua Valley Trail Club transformed the popular route into what’s now known as the Kinzua Valley Trail. Today, nearly 6 miles of the path provide users a calm, well-maintained trail experience that follows the Kinzua Creek west to Kane. A hilly, on-road, 0.6-mile extension on Forest Road now connects users to the Red Bridge Bank Fishing Area in Kane.
Parking is available at the eastern trailhead in Westline, a community in Mt. Jewett, the best place to begin your trail experience. From here, you’ll traverse through the Allegheny National Forest on a crushed-stone pathway following the Kinzua Creek. Whether you’re biking, hiking, or resting on one of the benches lining the trail, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of wetland areas along the creek and a full canopy of mature trees bordering the path. Wildlife, including deer and local birds, also frequent the trail.
In approximately 5.5 miles, after passing Little Meade Run to your right, you’ll reach a trailhead with a small parking area at Forest Road 122. From here, adventurous trail users can continue 1 mile to SR 321/Kane-Marshburg Road, where the trail ends. The last 0.7 mile, between Root Run and the final trailhead, is an on-road gravel-surfaced section that is lined with share the road signage and features more grade changes than the rest of the trail. The payoff, however, is exquisite. From SR 321/Kane-Marshburg Road, cross the road to the Red Bridge Bank Fishing Area overlooking the Allegheny River. There is limited parking at this drop-off area, with room for only a few cars.
The Kinzua Valley Trail Club is working to extend the Kinzua Valley Trail to Kinzua Bridge State Park and the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk to create a 21-mile trail. Note that motorized vehicles are prohibited along the Kinzua Valley Trail, with the exception of handicapped scooters and power chairs.
To reach the eastern trailhead in Westline from the intersection of US 6 and US 219 in Kane, head north on US 219/Pittsburgh-Buffalo Hwy., and go 5.1 miles. Turn left onto SR 3006/-Westline Road, keeping an eye out for directional trail signage. Go 3.2 miles, turn right onto Kinzua Road, and then take the first left onto Pine Trail. Parking is available 150 feet ahead at the end of Pine Trail.
To reach parking at the Red Bridge Bank Fishing Area from the intersection of US 6 and US 219 in Kane, follow the directions above to Kinzua Road, and go 0.3 mile. Continue onto Forest Road 122/CCC Road, and go 1.9 miles. Turn left to stay on Forest Road 122, and go 4.2 miles. Turn right onto SR 321 N/Kane-Marshburg Road, and then immediately turn left onto Red Bridge Bank Fishing Road. Go 0.1 mile to the end of the road, which dead-ends into a parking lot. To find the western trailhead, head back out along Red Bridge Bank Fishing Road for 0.1 mile, and turn right onto SR 321 N/Kane-Marshburg Road. Look for the trailhead endpoint on your left in less than 400 feet.
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