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The Shenango River Trail once served as a towpath along the Erie Canal Extension. During the mid-1800s, mules pulled boats along the canal, linking goods from the Great Lakes to Pittsburgh and beyond. Recognizing the geographic significance of such a link, Andrew Carnegie formed a conglomerate group to lease the nearby lines for 999 years.
In addition to the structural and historical details of the canal and towpath, the Shenango River Trail offers a wealth of natural attractions. Many species of both plants and animals thrive in the region.
Maintenance is sporadic at best on this trail. The nearby Seth Meyers Trail is only .5 miles long, but it offers the opportunity to take a self-guided hike and learn more about nature. More recreational activities are available at the Shenango River Lake Area.
Near the trail's northern terminus stands the Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, the only covered bridge in Mercer County, and the only Smith truss covered bridge in Pennsylvania.
To access the Shenango River Trail at Kidds Mill Bridge, Follow Route 18 north from Hermitage. Exit Route 18 at the Reynolds Industrial Park Road Exit (8.5 mile north of Shenango Valley Mall). Follow Reynolds Industrial Park Road 1 mile. Kidds Mill Bridge is on the right. The trailhead is at the bridge.
Location: Mercer County Miles: 8 Endpoints: Kidds Mill Covered Bridge to Big Bend Surface: Dirt Contact: US Army Corps of Engineers
Shenango Lake 2442 Kelly Rd. Hermitage, PA 16148 724-962-7746
Northern trailhead: N41º 21.242 W80º 23.855 Southern trailhead: N41º 17.740 W80º 26.135
This trail is actually closer to 8 miles long, point to point running from kidds mill bridge to big bend. It's a great trail for all levels of hiking or trail running, with great views of the river and wildlife along the whole length of the trail, and is the only primitive hiking trail in the area. A great group of volunteers and the Shenango River Watchers put in alot of work getting the trail cleared up and bringing it back to life. When its wet out, it can be muddy in spots, and when its warm out, there are bugs, because well you are in the great outdoors! 😁
1/8/2020 Decided to take a little hike on Kidds Mill trail intending to scout out a proposed loop trail and then hike on to the Shenango Trail. Scouted past eroded bluff and rejoined Kidds Mill trail. 25° degrees and sunny, fresh trackless snow. About a half hour in, a dense snow squall dumped another inch of snow on the previous blanket. Snowed hard enough to limit visibility to 50 yards. Wildlife was absent during the height of the squall which lasted 30 minutes. After the band moved through, spotted three doe and a perched bald eagle. Hiked total 5 miles out and back. Great day, quiet, no fellow hikers.
Great hike. Trail is marked with white blazes and the towpath trail has a blue dot in the white blaze. North Bend to Kidds Mill Bridge was 9.2 miles. There’s a parking area at Hamburg rd which I think is about halfway.
Beautiful trail along the Shenango River. A suspension bridge near North Bend Rd is a bonus. Horses and bikes welcome. Follow the white blazes - the towpath has a blue dot on the white blaze. Relatively flat. North bend to Kidd’s mill bridge was 9.2 miles for me.
New Years' Day hike on the Shenango Trail. 35° and sunny. Spotted three bald eagles; two juveniles and one mature bird. Several hawks sighted by river. Lots of deer sign and evidence of beaver work. Hiked two miles, out and back from Big Bend. Shared the trail with a family of three from Hermitage, PA.
Had a brisk winter hike on the Kidds Mill/Shenango Trails. Sunny, but only 25°at 2 PM. Began at Kidds Mill bridge; no hiker tracks but lots of squirrel, rabbit, dear and coyote sign. Spotted a mature bald eagle as the trail neared the river; screeched and took off flying from the riverbank. Canada geese along the river surface. Trail surface frozen in most spots; some muddy breakthroughs on creek crossings. Skirted around the beaver pond/bog area at the end of Kidds Mill trail and picked up Shenango Trail at mile 1. Hiked an additional 1.5 miles to the beaver pond near Spook Hollow road. Pond frozen, therefore no waterfowl or beaver activities. Met up with a SRW member on the way out. Both trails are clear of obstructions and dry/frozen. The bypass skirting the pond at the end of Kidds Mill allows you to extend the hike another 2 plus miles one way.
Walked the entire trail from New Hamburg to Big Bend on Dec. 16, 2019. Trail is completely open; free of tree obstructions and brush. Recently completed swinging bridge bypass is open and passable; although 'muck' boots are needed to cross the first stream. Boots are helpful the entire length of trail this time of year due to high stream volumes. Trail muddy in spots: PLEASE do not go off trail to avoid mud; it only makes the problem worse. Lots of evidence of deer traffic on the trail. Lots of squirrels sited and beaver work on riverbank; look for freshly gnawed saplings on your right going south. Work being performed throughout trail to mitigate water and mud concerns. All bridges are passable. Small reroute on Towpath Trail clearly marked. A small reroute is also pink flagged north of bridge no. 1 near Camp Nazareth to avoid water on trail.
The trail north of New Hamburg is completely open to Kidds Mill trail but is for the adventurous and well equipped. Muck boots are definitely needed for a small section just north of New Hamburg and for crossing atop of a large beaver dam at mile 1 north. Beaver are active at dusk each day and can be observed from either end of the dam. Best viewed from the northern end. Waterfowl are also abundant in the pond. At about 1.5 miles north of New Hamburg there is a blazed reroute away from private property and a cow pasture; also signage directing trail traffic. The connection with Kidds Mill trail at 2.8 miles north New Hamburg continues to be a water problem. The beaver have expanded their pond and flooded the existing puncheon bridges. The area can be bypassed by going to the right, skirting the flooded area and rejoining the Kidds Mill trail after a short off trail walk.
The Shenango Trail is a hidden gem for those who want a semi-primitive adventure. Don't be scared off by the challenge of the trail. Be prepared for all conditions and to observe lots of wildlife.
We hiked from New Hamburg to Big Bend, approx 4 miles on Sunday, November 17, 2019. Group hike was organized by Shenango River Watchers, who maintains the trail. They've done some clean up a few weeks prior. Trail was passable but muddy.
Parking in New Hamburg for about 10 cars. Parking in Big Bend for about 20 cars.
The swinging bridge was open and operational and all slats were intact.
I have only hiked this trail in the Spring and Fall but heard it's very thick over the summer months.
Nice local trail.
The Shenango Hiking Trail has recently been taken over by a new organization and they have lots of work ahead of them. As the other reviews say, the bridges need lots of work, and there are parts of the trail (especially between New Hamburg and Kidds Mill) that are impassible. It will take a few years, lots of money, and lots of hard work to get this trail up and running. If you are interested in doing trail maintenance or volunteering please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to hike this trail you should definitely try the section between Big Bend and New Hamburg. The hanging bridge needs repaired, but can be bypassed if you are adventurous.
This trail is meant to be followed in a single file line, and was not intended for bikes, but some mountain bikers do still run it. The trail is also used by local equestrian clubs.
This trail tends to be very wet year round. Many locals suggest avoiding the trail during the summer months due to poison ivy! Unfortunately in Western PA there is little we can do to control the poison ivy especially in a natural setting. With our winters becoming more and more mild, poison ivy and tick populations are becoming even harder to control. Please be smart when hiking and always wear proper attire.
Easy path - follow the white blazes - towpath has white blaze with a blue dot. Little maintenance- but worth a visit
We parked at the North Bend Road parking area just off Valley Road, which is across the river from the Big Bend Boat launch. The trail is not very wide and we had to go single file. From what I've read and heard, there is a lot of brush on the trail the other 3 seasons of the year. We headed out towards Hamburg but only made it 1/3 of a mile due to the swinging bridge being in very poor condition. (See photo's). Apparently over the past few years this bridge has been deteriorating. Half way across the bridge a board is missing and there is a loose board just stuck on there. We did not cross it. Even if the bridge were intact, it may be a challenge on snowshoes. Next time we will try to enter the trail at the Hamburg end. Hopefully the swinging bridge will be repaired soon. Snowshoeing was nice for the short time we were out there.
We started at the Covered Bridge at Kidds Mill.Not very well traveled with overgrowth and Nettles !! Made it about a mile in and trail just ended because of a downed tree.
Next we started at the Hamburg Bridge to go to Big Bend.Made it to Camp Nazareth and the trail just ended.Took the road the rest of the way.
Too bad....This could be an awesome single track trail and the scenery is beautiful as it follows the Old Erie Canal on the Shenango River.The bridges are impassable on a bike but not a big deal waking the bikes across.
My last review was after just a couple visits to the trail. I have now covered the entire trail in sections.
There has been a recent boost in volunteer efforts to improve the trail, which has finally made it possible to finish the upper section without getting lost. Unfortunately, due to this spring's weather patterns, some sections have become more overgrown than they were a year ago. Also, the rain this year has seemed to stay in the ground and leave whole sections very wet. On foot, this adds to the adventure. On a bike, this means you get stuck, or worse, plunge into a rut that you can't see.
Back to the lower section, it is only slightly overgrown, having been very clear last season. I have to emphasize that this is moderately challenging singletrack. The many dips and crossings each have a unique difficulty. I have found that the best way to ride many of these is to just be prepared to hike the bike across, almost in a cyclocross style, if it's beyond your current comfort level.
With just a little bit of bike oriented maintenance, this could be a very nice hidden gem of a mountain bike trail.
I started in from transfer, ran into several downed trees, overgrown thorn bushes, mud holes, and broken bridges. I got 1.3M in and had to turn around. I wold not recommend walking or biking this trail.
The Big Bend to New Hamburg trail section is fully passable and usable for hiker, horse, mountain biker and trail runner. There are several two extensions that traverse a well developed trail system at Camp Nazareth and one road / trail that attaches to Pew road. A new breath of fresh air has been given to the trail as a new and motivated crew of trail runners have organized a group and are starting to maintain the trail including the New Hamburg to Kidds MIll section which has been preliminarily cleared, measured and marked in one direction. Currently, as of this writing (September 2013) approximately 1.5 miles of the Kidds Mill section is clear and .75 of the New Hamburg to Kidds Mill section is clear and mulched. The middle, approximate 2 mile section, is still overgrown but is getting cleared out. For further information, contact our Facebook page: Shenango Valley Conservancy Trail
I tried to walk the trail from kidds mill to hamburgh but didn't make it, the brush and thorn bushes were to hard too pass, I got lost twice because I went off the trail but that could of been my fault for listening to music, most parts are very over grown, I wish they would maintain it better, I have lots of friend always looking for a good hike. I think with all the campers it would get used a lot if a little better maintained. It sould be a really nice trail.
This trail is a bit of a flyer for a site that focuses mainly on rail trails. This should really be described as a cross country mountain bike trail.
Like another person suggested, biking does not seem to be a significant intended use. There are several spots where the trail splits for hikers one way and horses another. One of them is a long plank suspension bridge that crosses a stream that's too deep to ford. I nearly dropped my bike walking it across. Other crossings featured less deep streams and rigid bridges, so bikes could go either way.
At this point the trail is essentially a few good but poorly connected sections. From Big Bend to New Hamburg, the trail is well defined. There is a split that allows you to take the winding towpath one way and climb the hill the other way. There are also side spurs that I have not investigated but am told offer good MTB riding. The downside is frequent drops for creeks, and small obstructions such as a continuing steel pipe that you have to cross frequently, but you stop complaining once you try the upper section.
To see the trailheads at big bend and at Kidd's Mill, you would think it is a well defined singletrack its entire length. But between New Hamburg and Kidd's Mill, the trail is very overgrown with thorn bushes. In fact, sections of the trail look as though they specifically plunge through a thorny thicket, while there is plenty of open woods to the side.
I tried to cover the whole distance from Big Bend, but eventually lost the trail. I then met up with that point starting from Kidd's Mill. Each time I could not find the other trail, only the same landmark, a seemingly private path to the river, that told me I had reached the same spot.
It seems that most people who use this trail use the lower section, or just go a couple miles in from Kidd's Mill and that's enough for them. For those of us who like to cover distance, this trail needs a lot more work. I only half jokingly thought that this trail was charted on Google Earth and Traillink just to get people to develop it themselves.
My daughter and I rode the 4 Mile stretch from Bend Road to Hamburg Rd.It was very good ride.
If your horses do not like water crossings you may want to start at Hamburg Rd. 1 deep water crossing approx. 3 1/2 feet. With a little work this could be a very nice trail
Just ran trail from Kidds Mill Bridge approximately 3 miles into trail and back; 3 inches of snow was not an issue, but approximately 2.5 miles into run trail became impassable due to extremely thick briars and loss of trail visually. Trail markers on trees are infrequent and poorly visible. Trail needs significant maintenance. Luckily, I had my footprints in the snow to follow on the return trip. I was looking for a local alternative for trail running...typically, I love to run on the North Country Trail which is an extremely well managed trail in our region but is far to drive to for frequent trail runs. Next venture is to try this same trail from Hamburg road to the trail end.
It has been suggested to me that starting at the end of the Trail which is the Big Bend Trail Head and walking to New Hamburg is the best route. That part of the trail is four miles. Near Big Bend, the trail splits so it is possible to walk on the Tow Path of the Canal for a distance.
I didn't realize anyone would be thinking of biking on the trail. There are numerous foot bridges to cross.
Possbily with a lot of work it could be open to biking.
I would like to see a large group of people commit to making the trail as useful and beautiful as it could be.
trail in bad need of maintence barley walk most of it let alone ride a mountain bike or ski . was very disappointed in trail!
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