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The Redbank Valley Trail follows a rail corridor developed by the Allegheny Valley Railroad in 1872 to carry passengers, coal, and lumber to Pittsburgh and beyond. Passenger service along the line stopped in the 1940s, while freight continued until the rails were removed in 2007. The corridor now carries trail users along the forested banks of Redbank Creek for more than 41 miles to the Allegheny River and along a 9-mile perpendicular spur to Sligo. The trail is part of the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s developing 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
Grades along the pathway are around 1%, making for a pleasant journey. Cellular service is somewhat limited along the mostly rural trail, and there are long stretches without drinking water or restrooms, so be sure to carry plenty of water with you. You’ll also want to bring a good light if you plan on visiting the Climax or Long Point Tunnels.
Brookville to Rimersburg/Sligo Spur: 36.2 miles
You can begin your journey in Brookville at a parking lot just off of SR 36/South White Street, across from a grocery store. From the parking lot, the short Depot Street Spur will bring you to the main railway corridor in less than a mile. Here, you’ll bear right onto a well-maintained crushed-limestone surface along Redbank Creek. To the left, a short, currently closed, segment of trail heads over a bridge to a closed tunnel and portion of trail that will eventually extend to Second Street in Brookville. There are currently no plans to reopen this trail; please do not enter the tunnel for your own safety.
Summertime heat is greatly reduced as the trail heads through a cut into a limestone hill just past mile 5.5. Thermometers here and at a bridge just a few hundred yards away indicate the difference in temperature. In 2 miles, the Summerville trailhead—the site of the town’s old railroad station—offers parking, a portable toilet, and a map kiosk. The trail meanders mostly through forested and rural areas for the next 8 miles, after which you’ll pass through the small communities of Mayport, Hawthorn, and Alcola. In Fairmount City, in the spring of 2019, the trail managers reopened a 0.4-mile section of trail between Middle Run Road and Fairmount Avenue, which had been closed for redevelopment.
Continuing 4 miles on the trail along the creek, you’ll travel through New Bethlehem and then more woods before entering the impressive 517-foot Climax Tunnel, built in 1872 and renovated and reopened to the public in 2018. As the trail meanders back to the east, you’ll pass a large sculpture of a hand with two bright-red cardinals. Just past mile 33, you’ll reach a camp shelter featuring a sheltered picnic table, permanent pit toilet, and bike repair station. Dubbed Ray’s Place, the Adirondack shelter was established in 2016 as a memorial to one of the trail’s dedicated volunteers. Just beyond lies the entrance to the 640-foot Long Point Tunnel. As the tunnel has yet to be reinforced or improved, travelers are advised to use good lights.
Sligo Spur: 9.0 miles
At mile 36 in Rimersburg, you’ll come to the 9-mile Sligo Spur. Take a right to follow the spur north alongside Wildcat Run for the first 3 miles. Continue north to Walker Farm Road just south of Sligo. This spur features a more challenging 3% grade. Check the trail’s website for more information on current conditions of this segment at redbankvalleytrails.org/access-limitations.
Sligo Spur to Templeton: 5.8 miles
From the Sligo Spur intersection, the main trail continues just under 6 miles heading west, following the meandering creek and ending at the Allegheny River. Here, the trail meets the 35.5-mile Armstrong Trail, which follows the Allegheny River south to Ford City. Cross Redbank Creek to access a parking area for the trail.
To reach the Depot St. trailhead in Brookville from I-80, take Exit 78 for SR 36 toward Sigel/Brookville. Head south on SR 36 S/Allegheny Blvd., and go 0.4 mile. Turn left onto Main St., go 0.8 mile, and turn right onto SR 36/S. White St. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right onto the short access road just before Redbank Creek, where a sign points you to the Depot Street trailhead.
To reach the endpoint in Templeton, also an access point for the Armstrong Trail, from I-80, take Exit 64. Head south on SR 66 toward Clarion/New Bethlehem, and go 0.3 mile. Go 13.0 miles, and turn right onto Broad St. Then go 0.6 mile, and continue left onto SR 28 S/SR 66 S/North St. Go 2.4 miles, and continue straight onto Madison Road. Go 4.7 miles, and turn right onto State Route 1004/Kellersburg Road. Go 4.0 miles, turn right onto SR 1002, and go 3.0 miles. Turn left into the parking lot, located at the confluence of Redbank Creek and the Allegheny River. Access the Red Bank Valley Trail by turning right onto the Armstrong Trail, crossing Redbank Creek, and taking a sharp right onto the Redbank Valley Trail. You can also take a hard left to head south on the Armstrong Trail toward Ford City.
To reach parking in Rimersburg on the Sligo Spur from I-80 E, take Exit 45 for SR 478 toward St. Petersburg/Emlenton. (From I-80 W, take Exit 45, and turn left onto SR 208. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto SR 478.) Turn right onto SR 478 E, go 2.0 miles, and turn left onto SR 58 E/E. Main St. Go 2.9 miles. Turn right to stay on SR 58 E, and go 5.3 miles. Then turn left to stay on SR 58 E, and go 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Bald Eagle St., and turn right onto SR 68 W/Colerain St. Go 4.0 miles, and turn right into the parking lot. To access the trail, head south 0.2 mile down SR 68. The endpoint is located 4.2 miles farther north along the trail.
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