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Oil flows through the veins of the Samuel Justus Recreation Trail. Its northern departure point is Oil City, which was founded during the 1860s oil boom and became the headquarters for several petroleum corporations. The route follows the unused corridor of the Allegheny Valley Railroad, whose trains carried crude away from the oil fields to the refineries. It’s even named for an oil baron, Samuel Justus, who used his fortune to create a trust fund for widows and children.
The paved trail rolls 6 miles along a wooded route overlooking the Allegheny River between Oil City and Franklin. The 8-foot-wide paved surface parallels a dirt access road suitable for horses. Its southern trailhead connects to the Allegheny River Trail that runs another 30 miles south from Franklin to Parker. Its northern trailhead links with the 3-mile Oil City Trail, which crosses the Petroleum Street Bridge and joins the 9.4-mile McClintock Trail to Oil Creek State Park. Horse riding is allowed on an adjacent gravel road, though horses are not permitted on the trail itself.
The trail is part of the future 270-mile Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, which will incorporate several trails stretching from Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie to the Steel City, and the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s developing 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
Starting at a boat launch site on the south side of Oil City, the path rolls along the base of a bluff alongside the Allegheny River. You’ll enjoy views of the river the entire way. After passing a sewage treatment plant in a mile, you’ll pass a half dozen pumps over the next couple of miles that still bring up oil or natural gas.
About 4.5 miles down the trail, you’ll pass the large stone gate for River Ridge Farm, built in 1913 for Joseph C. Sibley, who made his money in the oil refining and animal breeding businesses. He later became a five-term congressman, first as a Democrat and then as a Republican. The mansion, still standing, is owned by Life Ministries and commands a view of the river and surroundings.
In about a mile you’ll start seeing commercial businesses across the river in Franklin, soon after which you’ll pass underneath the US 322 bridge and arrive at the southwestern trailhead. A visitor center is located here, housed in a saltbox--style house identified by the roof that slopes lower in back than the front.
To reach the northern trailhead in Oil City from I-80, take Exit 29, and head north on SR 8/Pittsburgh Road. Go 16.4 miles, and turn right onto Liberty St. Go 0.7 mile (Liberty St. curves right at 12th St.), and turn left onto US 62 N/Allegheny Blvd. Go 7.5 miles. Turn right onto Petroleum St., go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto W. First St. Go 0.5 mile, turn right onto Wyllis St., and go about 0.1 mile. Take the access road straight ahead, which dead-ends at the Allegheny River and then curves left into the Oil City Marina parking lot.
To reach the southern trailhead in Franklin from I-80, follow the directions above to Liberty St. Go 1.1 miles (Liberty St. curves right at 12th St.), and turn left onto US 322 E/Eighth St. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right at the trailhead (a sign says "Samuel Justus Recreation Trail"). The trail is accessible at the north end of the parking lot.
Parked in Franklin PA at the Saltbox area parking lot. Large lot holds many cars. Headed North from there to Oil City, and back. Nice smooth ride. You will pass old oil pumps and Sibley's River Ridge along the way. Portable restrooms at each end of the trail. Trail follows the Allegheny River.
Parked at the junction of Justus trail and Allegheny River trail at Franklin. Road to Oil City and back. Trail is all asphalt. The trail goes about 1.1 miles beyond the end of the actual trail. You will ride along the Allegheny River and pass many old oil well pumps , many history signs of the area, and some oil tanks that are still collecting oil. One area you could smell the oil. If the ride is not long enough, you can ride the Allegheny River trail which is asphalt. The trail is very easy to ride.
Flat, mostly shaded. River views. Picnic table, benches, and educational boards along the way. Didn't look at the map close enough - only went to the water treatment plant and not all the way into Oil City. Parking available off 322 and Bredinsburger Rd. And at the water treatment plant.
Seamless connection: We connected onto the Samuel Justus trail from the Allegheny River Trail.
In Franklin, off Route 322, there is a large parking area with picnic tables and a shelter. Also restrooms. Heading North out of the parking lot is the Samuel Justus trail which runs along the Allegheny River into Oil City. Picnic tables along the trail.
Trail is virtually flat and nicely paved. Always a nice ride.
I enjoyed this trail as it is short and sweet but it does connect to the Allegheny river trail in Franklin if you want a longer ride. this trail has a lot of history to offer and some beautiful scenery. if I am back in the area and have time I would love to hit it again
The trail is 5.3 miles in length from Franklin to Oil City. Nice for beginners since out and back in a little over 10 miles. Flat trail. Follows the river. Picnic tables along the way, no water source though.
Trailhead was a bit difficult to locate but once on it is a very nice well maintained trail. Gates are now painted red not yellow as stated on the website. Easy addition of a few miles while doing the Allegheny River Trail.
Rode this route today, very nice ride till you get to Oil City, then its totally confusing on how to get thru town to get to the adjoining trail. How about some better markings or directions??? I was trying to get to The trail to Oil Creek State Park. And gave up after having to walk my bike quite a distance and fight heavy car traffic. That wasn't fun
We stayed in Franklin, PA, at the Quality Inn so we could do a couple days of riding without having to shuttle or camp. The first morning we rode the Sandy Creek Trail starting in Belmar. In the afternoon, we were looking for something that was short just for 'something to do' and chose the Justus trail. Good map available at http://www.avta-trails.org/maps.html.We picked up the trail at its beginning in Franklin. Very nicely paved trail with benches placed along the way for nice views of the river. Lot of people out kayaking, canoeing, boating, and swimming. Previous reviewer did a great job of describing all there is to see along the way, so I won't repeat. Trail was pretty shady which made for a nice cool ride on a hot day. We were surprised that the trail wasn't at all crowded, considering we rode during the week of July 4th. Good ride for anybody--old people, young kids, experienced bikers--looking for a fairly short (15 miles out and back to where the trail ends and joins the bike path on the road).
"On Saturday the 30th of April I biked on the Samuel Justis Trail. I actually started on the Allegheny River Trail at Belmar, and rode North towards Franklin, where the Samuel Justus Trail starts. In Franklin, it started to rain, so I pulled into a pavilion and cooked lunch and ate while the rain continued. There is a historic building here that was dated in the 1800's. I forget the date, but it is called the ""Saltbox House"" and I hear it is open on the weekends to offer information,
plus it has books and snacks for sale. It was closed this day.
Also in Franklin is a good bike shop called ""Country Peddlers."" They have a nice selection of bicycles, and other supplies. I was able to get a complete map of all the local trails here for free. I continued North on the trail. I rode past several nice places that had benches, picnic tables and port-a-johns. The view was nice as you ride along the river. There are lots of islands in the river.
There are also several working oil wells that are sometimes pumping as you go by them. There was also an interesting estate called ""River Ridge Farm"" that you pass. The estate has an interesting stone and iron gateway that you see from the trail. From what I understand this used to be the home of a local Senator who made his fortune in the oil business.
The trail ended near a sewage treatment plant, but I continued riding along the road by following the signs (PA Bicycle Route), all the way into Oil City. The bike route follows some roads, but then takes you back down to a paved trail on the railroad grade. Here there were interpretive signs discussing the oil
heritage of the region.
There were also some interesting oil relics on display. In Oil City, I found a place to refill my water bottle and use a
pay phone (There is no water along the trail). Then I turned around and biked back to one of the campsites, where I set up camp for the night.
Sunday May 1st, I broke camp and biked back down the trail from where I came yesterday, back along the Allegheny River Trail."
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