West Creek Recreational Trail


13 Reviews

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West Creek Recreational Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Cameron, Elk
Length: 19.5 miles
Trail end points: W. Creek Road and Wilson Road (St. Marys) and E. 2nd St., just south of SR 120/E. Allegany Ave. (Emporium)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 8206139

West Creek Recreational Trail Description

The West Creek Recreational Trail connects St. Marys and Emporium in a forested area of northern Pennsylvania known as elk country. The 19.5-mile trail follows the route of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad that began serving the area in the 1860s. It was later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad and then became one of the many short-line railroads: the Allegheny and Eastern Railroad, owned by Genesee & Wyoming. In 2008 that company hammered out an agreement to deed the corridor to the West Creek Recreational Trail Association. Work on the trail proceeded in stages over the years until it was completed in 2017.

The crushed-stone trail loses about 600 feet from St. Marys to Emporium. Emporium’s motto is Land of the Endless Mountains, but the trail only takes the one long grade along West Creek. Round-trip bicyclists like to start in Emporium to enjoy the long downhill on the return trip. In the wintertime, snowmobilers flock to the trail, groomed by the St. Marys Snowmobile Association.

In the west, the trail starts aproximately 0.6 miles east of the West Creek Wetland Learning Center. Future plans call for the trail to be extended westward to the Wetland Center and beyond into the town of St Marys. Currently, this section of the trail is undeveloped where its surface is comprised of the original railroad ballast. 

Elk and Cameron Counties are populated with elk, reintroduced in the early 20th century after native herds were hunted to oblivion by the 1870s. You might see them on your travels, although the prime viewing areas are the hills and valleys south of the trail. During the summer, the best viewing times are early morning and evening as the elk spend the days in the shade.

Following the meandering West Creek, you’ll pick up the northern boundary of State Game Land No. 293 in 3 miles. Deer, turkeys, bears, beavers, bobcats, and coyotes inhabit the area. You’ll leave the vicinity of the state game area about 4 miles down the trail as you cross West Creek Road.

In another 2.5 miles, you’ll come to SR 120, which accompanies the trail for about 7 miles into Emporium. Use caution at occasional cross streets and driveways along this section. In 4.8 miles, you’ll pass a valley on the right called Hercules Hollow, named for one of the seven dynamite factories based in the Emporium area that operated from the late 1800s to the 1950s.

As the trail approaches Emporium, you’ll see more reminders of the manufacturing that once flourished here as you pass the old Sylvania plant, where incandescent light bulbs and radio tubes were once manufactured. The town, which serves as the county seat, is surrounded by hills. Trailside signs direct you to some of the restaurants, cafés, taverns, and ice cream shops that make this a good destination. An old red caboose marks the trail’s end.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the endpoint in St. Marys from I-80, take Exit 97, and head north on US 219. Go 10.4 miles, and turn right onto US 219/Main St. Go 6.5 miles, and turn right onto Toby Road/SR 2003. Go 6.7 miles, and continue straight onto SR 2007. Go 0.8 mile, and turn left onto Irishtown Road/SR 2007. Go 1.2 miles, and stay straight on Old Kersey Road/SR 2007. Go 1.9 miles, and turn left onto SR 255/S. St. Marys Road/Million Dollar Hwy. Go 2.8 miles, and bear right onto SR 120/Railroad St. Go 200 feet, and bear left onto Lafayette St. Go 370 feet, and turn right onto Washington St. Go 1.9 miles, and go straight onto W. Creek Road. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto the access road for the West Creek Wetland Learning Center trailhead parking lot. Another trailhead is located 0.6 mile farther east on W. Creek Road.

To reach the endpoint in Emporium from I-80, take Exit 178, and head north on US 220. Go 7.1 miles. Take Exit 111, and turn left onto Paul Mack Blvd. Go 0.7 mile, and stay straight onto SR 120/N. Jay St. Go 0.2 mile, turn left onto SR 120/E. Water St., and go 1.1 miles. Bear right onto SR 120/Susquehanna Ave., and go 71.4 miles. Turn left to stay on SR 120 W/E. Allegany Ave. Go 0.1 mile, turn left onto E. Second St. at the caboose, and look for parking on the right.

West Creek Recreational Trail Reviews

Grass is growing through the gravel between Emporium and Little Red Barn Farm. Emporium Chamber says trail will be sprayed later in June. Trail could use additional gravel. Lots of wildlife along the trail.

Grass is growing through the gravel between Emporium and Little Red Barn Farm. Emporium Chamber says trail will be sprayed later in June. Trail could use additional gravel. Lots of wildlife along the trail.

Trail is well maintained. Several parking areas, both trail heads, along RT 120 and along West Creek Rd. Emporium to St. Mary's is uphill. First 12 MI is gradual grade. Remaining miles a little steeper. Great scenery.

Trail is well maintained. Several parking areas, both trail heads, along RT 120 and along West Creek Rd. Emporium to St. Mary's is uphill. First 12 MI is gradual grade. Remaining miles a little steeper. Great scenery.

Nice ride in along West Creek

Taking advantage of the fall colors, I started out in Emporium on my recumbent trike with street tires. I rode the gentle upgrade for about 12.5 miles, but had to turn around because the cartway surface has been damaged by heavy equipment tracks. I didn't see any bathroom facilities or water fountains, but there's a nice sheltered picnic table just West of where the trail crosses Route 120, about 8 miles. Very nice scenery of farms the meandering West Creek, but this would get more stars if they had at least a porta-toliet, and the better care of the cartway going West.

Better than expected trail

Because mountain biking was the only biking listed in the information on this trail, we weren't sure how the ride would be on our hybrid bikes. But to our great surprise, the trail was well-maintained and easy to maneuver with our hybrids. Scenery was beautiful on a stellar, sunny day. Only had time to ride about 6 miles out from St Marys and back, but next time we will plan to ride from Emporium and back. You could definitely feel the uphill incline heading back to St Marys.


Great trail

My wife and loved this trail. So quiet and out in nature along the creek. We did about 15 miles and will go back tomorrow and do it again...

nice trail

Started at west creek trailhead down hill for the first 6 miles. Made for a long 6 miles on the way back. All and all nice trail, scenery not the greatest.

early winter trail running

Ran the first few miles at dusk down from St Marys starting point after early winter snow flurries. Great ambiance as snow dampered sounds.
First half mile definitely wet (water up to the ankle at times) until one reached the better maintained section.
Very gentle slope uphill on the way back did not penalize speed.

West Creek Recreational Trail

We started in St Mary's. We hadn't got on our bikes yet when 3 motorized vehicles came by. Farther east another 3 four wheelers came by. We noticed that these motorized vehicles were leaving evidence from spinning there's tires and sliding on t the first thee miles. After that as we proceeded east that evidence vanished. Nice trail but should not be used for motorized unless someone wantsto maintain the damage done.

west creek in October

We rode the trail in 2 sections. We started in Emporium and rode to the route 120 crossing. It’s uphill going west but barely noticeable. Even though it parallels route 120 we saw an eagle, turkeys, and a coyote which ran out in front of us and ran up the trail a stretch. The trail is in excellent condition. The following day we rode the second half to St Mary’s. This was a very enjoyable section. It passes through state game lands. We had to walk around a tree across the trail too. There were some busy beavers that dropped trees at that section. I recommend this to everyone. It’s beautiful and everyone who helps maintain this gem needs to be applauded

Lots of History

I rode from St Marys to emporium and back. Uphill 600 ft on the return to St Marys but it saved me 40 miles of driving. I thought I made a mistake parking at the West Creek Wetlands Learning Center and riding 0.5 miles on unimproved rail bed to the real trail head parking but turned out the shady place I parked was best. First half to Emporium was remote but the last half was near the road. There were several history markers along the trail near Emporium about early industries like Hercules (explosives for the Panama Canal and WWII) and Sylvania to vacuum tubes. A Caboose was at the end of the trail and open to explore.

Good Trail in the PA Wilds

We started the trail at the point where it branches away from Rte 120. The trail from Emporium to this point looked uninteresting as it parallels the highway. The portion we rode toward St Mary's was more remote, edging along the stream. It was a steady climb toward St Mary's so I recommend that you ride in that direction. The return trip was easy riding down hill. We were disappointed that we did not see any wildlife in such a remote area, but you cannot have everything. The trail condition is decent. The stone is a little on the course side for hybrid and road tires but still very rideable. The trail looks like it is maintained for snow mobiling and the club that maintains it should be complimented for sharing this nice recreational trail.

West Creek trail

This trail has now been extended to St. Marys , making it a 20 mile trail . Crushed limestone and very nice . Make sure you start in Emporium and go to St. Marys , its downhill on the way back .

All Season

Enjoyed a day in the PA Wilds, traveling this trail. It was a hot day but since the trail winds through the mountains, there were tree covered areas that provided shelter from the sun. Loved the unique mile markers on the trail. They were bird houses! Can't wait to return with cross country skis!

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