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Though little-known compared to other popular rail-trails in Pennsylvania, the Penns Creek Path is worth the effort of visiting for a scenic bike ride or hike in the forest. Pretty in all seasons, it is especially picturesque in June when its mountain laurel bushes abound with beautiful white blossoms.
The trail forms part of the Mid-State Trail, a 319-mile cross-country hiking trail that traverses five state forests and eight natural areas in the ridge and valley region of central Pennsylvania; with its firm surface, the Penns Creek Path is more suitable for cycling than most other sections.
Penns Creek Path is tucked away in Poe Paddy State Park at Poe Mills, a former lumber town dating from the timber industry boom in the late 19th century. The trail follows the path of a small timber railroad that once threaded through this mountainous region to transport lumber to State College.
Starting out from the roadside trailhead near Poe Mills, you soon come to a bike-ped trestle bridge that crosses Penns Creek. Look down to the water as you cross, and you are likely to see fly-fishers hoping to snag a trout with the Green Drake fly (a fishing fly especially popular at Penns Creek in late May and early June).
Just beyond the bridge is the next thrill, a former railroad tunnel carved into the rock face. It curves just enough to block any light from the other end, making it pitch-black for a short distance inside. A headlight or flashlight makes it less creepy. The tunnel was refurbished in 2016, with new lining as well as a resurfacing of the trail within the tunnel. At the east entrance, look up and you will see a bat-gate, a specially constructed access point for the winged mammals. Their hibernaculum in the upper portion of the trail is cut off from the lower bit, which houses the trail.
Beyond the tunnel the trail delivers a serene woodland experience. At mile 1.5 Penns Creek becomes visible again through the foliage. From here to the end of the trail, larch and pine trees share space with the deciduous trees lacing the sky. The crushed stone surface gradually fills with equal amounts of grass, giving the impression of being less-traveled. Near the end of the trail at Cherry Run, the Mid-State Trail breaks off to the left heading uphill.
To reach the Poe Mills trailhead, take US 322 to Potters Mills and turn east (right if you are traveling north on US 322) on Sand Mountain Road. Continue about 10 miles, following the signs to Poe Valley State Park. Stay on this road through Poe Valley State Park to Poe Paddy State Park (an additional 3 miles from Poe Valley State Park). Most of this route from US 322 is unpaved. Turn left into the park, cross a one-way bridge, stay straight and continue about 0.5 mile. On the right is a small sign for Penns Creek Path. Park beside the road.
Had a great day on the trail once we finally got there! You need to take Sand Mountain Road off of 322 not Decker Valley Road! There are no signs for the park on Decker Valley Road. Decker Valley is a narrow road barely wide enough for two cars - you need to pull to the side if someone is coming the other direction. There is also active logging and when a logging truck is coming down the road, you have to back up to try to find some place to get off the road. Wasted an hour traveling Decker Valley. Glad the trail was beautiful and peaceful to sooth our nerves after the Decker Valley road!
Rode the Penns Creek Path thru the completed remodel of the old train tunnel. Included some pics. On the other side of the tunnel is the Poe Paddy Campground, and another 3 to 4 miles further up the road is the Poe Valley Campground and lake. Lovely ride along the Penns Creek until you get to the tunnel, then the road turns to a dirt road to take you to the parks. Saw quite a bit of blooming mountain laurel today, and enjoyed the cool temperatures thru the forest. There are picnic tables and comfort facilities in the park you can use for free.
I'm glad I have experienced working on the rehabilitation of the bridge /trail/and tunnel.almost complete,bat habitat done,steel liner of tunnel finished,new head walls built,bridge done, (concrete)trail completed with new surface .800 yards of concrete encase the steel liner to ensure safety. Still a few items to complete (restrictor gates to be installed to limit access to bikes/and hikers) staining of imitation stone to be finished. Passable and safe be careful of a few minor construction areas. A must see now or when complete.
Hi, just an update as of 4/25/15 weekend this trail is still closed. The bridge is under construction, however it's passable. The entrance to the tunnel is blocked off. I'm not sure how long this will take, but it sure was disappointing to get out to beautiful Poe Paddy State Park and have it still unaccessible.
This is a trail that is off the beaten path to get to and has great potential for a short easy trail but there are things to be aware of. The tunnel at the beginning of the trail is officially closed but people are going around the sign and entering the tunnel anyway. The tunnel is only a few hundred feet and then the path begins. When we were there (July 4 week) the trail has not really been maintained. It is just two dirt paths (really just two tire tracks) and the grass hadn't been cut and was knee high. Once you reached the end, there was no indication of being able to continue on another trail (or portion of trail) so we just turned around and returned. Unless you are going to spend time at the State Park, it is not worth the trip to get there for a 5 mile round trip bike ride.
Tunnel is closed due to falling rock.
The tunnel at the start of the trail has been closed due to falling rock. We were told you can get to the other side by climbing over the top which we did not do.
This is a short but very nice section of trail. Definitely suitable for a touring or cross bike for the whole length. Very quiet with beautiful scenery.
As you're probely aware, the Penns Creek Trail goes through an old RR Tunnel.
Last year me, my Grandfather, and my uncle camped at nearby Poe Valley State Park. We found this trail and thought it would be cool to walk on this trail for a while. We did, 2 times.
nice, flat, and smooth. Great for biking and walking. No big rocks wich means cross country skiing on this trail would be possible. The tunnel had a few drops of water falling from the rocks above. No problem, what's a few drops of water, right? We had our fishing gear with us so we stayed for a bit to go fishing. This trail has great access to Penns creak.
we decided to go on the trail again, Mainly because we had really good luck fishing along the creek. We get to the RR tunnel to find that it had water in it as high as our boots (1FT deep)
It's not a good idea to ride your bike through water that high. If the water reaches your rear derailur, you'll run in to some shifting problems.
So I do reccomend this trail to anyone, and I do rate this 5 stars. But be careful! Check the tunnel conditions if you want to bike on this
We actually started at the Coburn side of this trail. We parked at one of the PA Fish Commission parking lot areas and rode the township road to the Coburn tunnel. We crossed Penns Creek over a very narrow railroad bridge. We were unable to ride across because the guide rails were so tight it rubbed the end of our handle bars. The trail itself for being privately owned in this section was in pretty nice shape although not as nice as other trails I have been on. We rode on to the village of Engleby where the trail gets a little more narrow but it still is rideable. We rode on to the next bridge which is no longer in existance and we had to cross Penns Creek. We crossed on some rocks in the stream but I would recommend bringing sandals or some kind of footwear you don't mind getting wet. Some parts of the stream were mid calf high at this point. We then rode on to the beginning of the actual trail near Poe Paddy State Park. The Actual trail itself is very nice and well constructed. Watch your head if you ride through the tunnel on the other side. It was pretty close for me. We rode on to the Cherry Run parking lot where the trail ends. We did ride on out to the township road and further out to the town of Weikert. The township road follows the old railroad bed but this part of the privately owned section is not open to the public. Over all the main trail is very nice but if you want to extend the ride the rest of what I have described is very neat too. I actually enjoyed the stream crossing since it was 98 degrees out the day we went. Overall the grade is nice and it provides a great workout.
Fun little trail that parallels a creek. The best part of the trip is defiantly the tunnel. The trickiest part of this trail is getting to the trail head. I traveled from the west and most of the gravel roads are still snow covered.
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