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It’s hard to believe that the world’s first oil boom occurred along the path of what’s now the Oil Creek State Park Trail. The park’s forests, beaver ponds, and trout streams were once the site of oil derricks, boomtowns, pipelines, refineries, and a railroad that served the nation’s first oil patch.
In 1859 Edwin Drake was the first to strike oil after months of difficult drilling at a site along Oil Creek known since pre-Colonial times for its oil seepages. Oil was mainly used as a substitute for whale oil in lamps and patent medicines; such uses as fuels, plastics, and fertilizers all came later. Soon oil boomtowns popped up along Oil Creek, and railroads began serving them in 1862.
The trail runs on the corridor of the first railroad to reach Titusville, the Oil Creek Rail Road, which ran to a main rail line in Corry. It later ran the length of Oil Creek to Petroleum Centre and merged to become the Oil Creek and Allegheny River Railway in 1868, and still later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The trail passes through Oil Creek State Park for 9.7 miles; the 1.5-mile Queen City Trail connects it to Titusville. In addition to the frequent bicyclists and hikers, the path—open daily, sunrise–sunset—is also popular among those who enjoy fishing for bass and trout.
The trail is part of the future 270-mile Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, which will connect with the Great Allegheny Passage. At its southern endpoint, it connects to the 9.4-mile McClintock Trail, which heads south to Oil City and provides further connections to the 3-mile Oil City Trail and 6-mile Samuel Justus Recreation Trail. The trail is also part of the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s developing 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
The main trailhead is at the Jersey Bridge Parking Area at Oil Creek State Park, which is also the southern endpoint for the Queen City Trail. For a 0.3-mile side trip to the informative Drake Well Museum, which includes a replica of that first oil well, turn right from the parking lot and cross Oil Creek, and then turn right onto Museum Lane.
Otherwise, turn left from the parking lot and head south along the west shore of Oil Creek. The trail follows the twists and turns of Oil Creek through a mostly hardwood forest, which provides good shade in the summer and good views across the gorge that Oil Creek and the trail runs through. There also are numerous historical sites along the trail, as well as some still-working oil and gas wells.
You’ll pass the locations of such boomtowns as Boughton, Millers Farm, Shaffer Farm, Pioneer, and Funkville as you head south. Crossing the river at 7.9 miles past the trailhead, you’ll come in contact with rails of the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad, a tourist train that has been running on the east side of Oil Creek from Titusville since 1986.
The Oil Creek State Park Trail continues on the east side of Oil Creek and then follows a park road for its last 0.5 mile, ending at the site of the most notorious of the boomtowns, Petroleum Centre. Today the area has shelters, restrooms, parking, and a boat launch; the ranger station here also rents bicycles, or you can take a self-guided walking tour of the “wickedest town east of the Mississippi,” according to the state park’s brochure. A depot for the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad is here.
At the terminus, you can make a seamless connection with the McClintock Trail by following Petroleum Center Road to your right and then Number Five Power Road, which curves left and then south toward Oil City.
To reach parking at the northern trailhead at the Jersey Bridge Parking Area, which is shared with the Queen City Trail, from I-79, take Exit 141, turn right onto SR 285 E, and go 7.4 miles. Turn left onto SR 173 N, and go 8.0 miles. Turn right onto SR 27 E, and go 15.7 miles. Take a slight right onto W. Spring St., and go 0.2 mile; then turn right onto S. Perry St., and go 0.3 mile, crossing Oil Creek. Turn left onto W. Bloss St./Allen St./Drake Well Road, and go just more than 1 mile. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot, just before Drake Well Road crosses Oil Creek.
To reach the southern trailhead at Petroleum Center Road from I-80, take Exit 29. Head north on SR 8, go 16.3 miles, and turn right onto Liberty St. Then go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto 13th St./Meadville Pike. Go 0.5 mile, and bear right onto SR 417/Rocky Grove Ave. Go 12.1 miles, and turn left onto SR 8 N/SR 417/William Flinn Hwy. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto Old Petroleum Center Road. Go 2.6 miles, and take a slight left onto Petroleum Center Road. Go 0.1 mile, and turn left into the parking lot.
We parked at Petroleum Center near the park office and biked up to Titusville where we accessed the connecting Queen City Trail into Titusville for lunch. Biked back to Petro Centre. Nice 20+ mile round trip. The trail is in very good condition.
started trail in Titusville. very well maintained trail. if you're looking to have an easier ride on the return trip, I recommend starting at other end. gradual incline but enough that you can tell if you're getting tired. Will definitely do again.
Nice trail, shaded by huge trees .
Rode it in the spring before the leaves were out, plan on going back. Nice level ride along Oil Creek. Rode it on the weekend and there was more people fishing than on the trail.
This is a beautiful park (Oct 17) and a great, well-maintained trail through it. The trail does have moss on it in places, so though it is paved it isn’t necessarily great for rollerblading.
We loved everything about this trail. Well maintained,(a tree had fallen across the trail and as we were riding back to our car , the rangers were already on their way to clear it) great scenery, even a rest room mid trail.
Rode the trail on July 3, 2016. Started at Oil Creek State Park and rode to Titusville. The trail is well paved with many historical signs to read. The trail is along Oil Creek and through the woods. It ends at Drake Well Museum. We were caught by surprise that admission was $10 per person. We did not have enough money. The bike trail does continue beyond Drake Well under a different name. If you are into history, this is a great trail to ride. The ride back to Oil Creek State Park is a little easier as other reviewers have stated.
We rode the last Saturday in October (2014). This was our second time on the trail. Last time was over the Summer. The scenery was different this time. Saw new and pretty sights.
We parked at the Oil Creek State Park Office in Petroleum Center. We biked to Drake Well and back. Also took the side trail the Queen City Trail. Last time we did the trail the reverse direction.
What we learned this time......start in Petroleum Center and go North to Drake Well which is also uphill. Better going uphill when you are fresh. The ride back to the car was all downhill. We're learning!
Leaves changing, nice Fall day.
We parked at the Drake Well parking lot and rode the trail South to Oil Creek State Park, I guess through Oil Creek State Park. From the parking lot you climb uphill about 1/10 of a mile, then it's downhill grade. The trail follows Oil Creek. Very shaded, so if you want to work on your bikers tan, this isn't going to be the trail for you. The trail is nice seems to be narrow though. On the one side is a hill, on the other is a cliff. Down in Petroleum Center there is the Oil Creek State Park office with drinking fountain and flush toilets. There is one section of the trail that goes under a railroad bridge. And if you go to fast, you may lose control and wind up in the creek. There is nothing to stop you other than some "tape". I think at one time there was a fence there and they are probably going to build a new one. Mike and Vicki
My beautiful girlfriend and I rode the entire trail, round trip, starting from the parking lot of the Caboose Motel in Titusville. This actually took us along the three mile "Queen City Trail", unbeknownst to us until later.
It was a partly cloudy day which made for a somewhat chilly ride in mid September, but it was well worth it. There are many trailside picnic tables to stop and rest, or lunch at. We were lucky enough to see the Oil Creek sightseeing train pass by at a crossing near the southern end of the trail when we stopped for lunch.
We spent two nights at the Caboose Motel and dined at the Blue Canoe in downtown Titusville. Both of which I recommend.
This is a wonderful trail. It's not perfectly flat, but rather seems to have a slight upgrade from the park entrance to Titusville. Chances are you won't notice it much, as the scenery and wildlife will keep your attention. Lots of photo opportunities. Beware though, the day I rode the trail, I encountered bears (black bears?) twice: once a mother and her 2 cups were just a few feet off the trail (they ran up the hill when I got close), and at another point some teenagers stopped me to warn me about a bear that was running on the trail up ahead of them.
Will definitely do this trail again if I'm in the area.
Rain shelters, fabulous! I almost wished it rained. Perhaps more signage is needed at the Titusville trailhead, i missed Drake's oilwell. Other than that, a great trail.
The wife and I rode the trail on Sept 11 2011. We started from the State Park and rode to the end of trail and beginning of "share the road". It was a gentle uphill ride to the road. Very isolated and quiet. We passed 4 walkers and 4 bicyclists total in the round trip. Also saw tons of chipmunks, 1 large owl and 2 deer. The surface is paved and in excellent condition. Round trip, we rode 22 miles and rate this trail very high.
"Nice paved trail with lots of history around the valley it's in. Good place to spend an afternoon, you can ride your bike, hike, have a picnic, ride the train and visit the oil museum.
Drove from Altoona to check it out, rode the trail and went to the oil museum. Trail has lots of historical markers along it, seems like I stopped every 1/2 mile to read them, lots of stuff I didn't know about oil history. Checked out the tourist train that runs parallel to the trail on the other side of the river. Having the museum right near the trail made the ride more interesting. Museum has machinery from early oil operations outdoors along with a recreation of the drake well. Main museum building has artifacts and photographs as well as small working models of how oil wells operated. Seeing the wagon they used to transport nitroglycerine in along dirt roads was a real blast."
Trail was great. The only problem was that we didn't know that hunting was permitted in the area.
The Oil Creek Trail can be appreciated by anyone. I cycle on the trail several times a year... FALL is the greatest... the children enjoy it... The serenity and beauty of the trail is great.
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