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Evidence of the Roaring Run Trail’s past lives are readily visible all along the 4.8-mile corridor in western Pennsylvania. Stone remains in the Kiskiminetas River (Kiski for short) mark the site of a canal lock left over from the 1820s to 1860s when the route served as a towpath on the cross-state Main Line Canal system. Mileage markers and a bridge are remnants of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which bought the canal system in 1857 and converted it to rail. Here the railroad hauled coal from nearby mines and iron from local furnaces.
After it fell into disuse, the corridor was acquired by the Kovalchick Salvage of Indiana, Pennsylvania, which donated the right-of-way to the Roaring Run Watershed Association. The group formed in 1982 to help preserve this historic area and clean up pollution flowing from former mines. In addition to the Roaring Run Trail, the nonprofit also maintains the 1.5-mile Apollo’s Kiski Riverfront Trail to the north and the 1.5-mile Rock Furnace Trail.
The trail runs along the eastern shore of the Kiskiminetas River from south of the borough of Apollo to Edmon. There are no services between the two communities. About the first 4 miles of trail follows the railroad grade upriver from Apollo on a crushed-stone surface; the last mile is marked by a climb, a dip, and then a steeper climb on tar and chip asphalt to the Edmon trailhead. The trail is open dawn–dusk.
Starting at the trailhead south of Apollo, the trail cuts a wooded course along the river for 1.5 miles to the confluence of Roaring Run. If the river isn’t running high, you can see the remnants of a canal lock here. You’ll also meet the Rock Furnace Trail that climbs 1.5 miles from here to a trailhead in Brownstown. The Rock Furnace Trail features a suspension bridge over cascading waterfalls in the creek and the piled ruins of the Biddle Iron Furnace that dates back to the canal era. A huge stone hanging over the trail here is called the Camel Rock.
Back on the Roaring Run Trail, in another 1.8 miles a mountain bike singletrack heads up the slope, where the remains of an old coal washing and loading operation is disappearing into the vegetation. Other mountain biking tracks are on the hillside as well.
You’ll want to take the right fork in another 0.5 mile to go the remaining mile, mostly uphill, to the trailhead in Edmon. The left fork pays a visit to Flat Run, where a hiking path continues to a falls.
Roaring Run Trail is one of the Trans Allegheny Trails, a system of trails in western Pennsylvania. 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.
To reach the northern trailhead in Apollo from Pittsburgh, take I-376 E to its end (near mile marker 85) and continue onto US 22 E/William Penn Hwy. Go 10.1 miles on US 22, and exit onto SR 66 N toward Delmont. Turn left onto SR 66, and go 11.6 miles. Take a slight right to stay on SR 66 N, go 2.6 miles, and turn right onto Kiski Ave. Go 0.8 mile, and keep right to continue onto Canal Road. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach parking near the southern endpoint in Edmon from Pittsburgh, take I-376 E to its end (near mile marker 85) and continue onto US 22 E/William Penn Hwy. Go 18.4 miles on US 22, and turn left onto SR 981 in New Alexandria. Go 11.9 miles, and turn right onto Main St./Walnut St. Go 0.5 mile, turn left onto Bridge St./State Route 1060, and go 0.2 mile. Turn left onto High St./SR 2047, go 0.2 mile, and then turn left to stay on High St. Go 0.2 mile, and look for trailhead parking on the left.
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