West Penn Trail


25 Reviews

View Trail Map
View Map
Send to App

Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

West Penn Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Indiana, Westmoreland
Length: 15 miles
Trail end points: Urban Road, 0.5 mile north of Nowrytown Road, near Kiskiminetas River (Saltsburg) and Newport Road near Blacklick Creek, 0.25 mile north of Lakeview Dr. (Blairsville)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6032510

West Penn Trail Description

The West Penn Trail is named for a branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad that paralleled the Western Division Canal of the cross-state Main Line of Public Works from Lockport to Freeport and then to Pittsburgh. Canal barges negotiated locks, aqueducts, and tunnels in this division to carry cargo between Pittsburgh and Johnstown. The Pennsylvania Railroad used the corridor until 1950, when a portion of tracks near Bow Ridge was moved to a less flood-prone route during the construction of the Conemaugh Dam.

Today, the trail, which is open dawn–dusk, extends from north of Saltsburg to just west of Blairsville, with plans to expand north to Avonmore and east to the Hoodlebug Trail. 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. Along the way, you’ll see remnants of the historic Main Line Canal that was replaced by railroads in the late 19th century, as well as rare rail-trail features, including switchbacks and a flight of stairs. Other than the middle sections, which are best suited to mountain or hybrid bikes with thicker tires, most of the rail-trail is accessible by wheelchair. Equestrian use is allowed west of Auen Road in Conemaugh Township.

Begin your journey at the northernmost endpoint by the Kiskiminetas River. Head south to cross Blacklegs Creek, and continue 1 mile to North Park on Salt Street, where parking can be found. Traverse historic Saltsburg along the canal path to a trailhead on the east end of town. For an alternate route along the Conemaugh River, turn right off the trail onto Point Street, take a left onto Water Street, and head 0.4 mile to the trailhead. At Canal and Water Streets, this trailhead also serves as the northernmost endpoint of the 17.8-mile Westmoreland Heritage Trail. You’ll then follow the river through wooded areas and beside an active rail line for the next few bends in the pathway.

About halfway through the route, the terrain becomes hilly, making for a challenging workout. Elders Run marks the start of the 2.2-mile Dick Mayer Section stretching to the Conemaugh Dam. Expect challenging uphill grades as you make your way up and across railroad tracks and through the forest, as well as a quick downhill stretch approaching State Route 3003/Tunnelton Road, less than a mile from Elders Run. Follow the steep zigzagging trail to the Conemaugh Lake National Recreation Area at 7.7 miles. To your left, the Conemaugh Dam offers beautiful views of the river. As portions of trail can be submerged east of the dam, especially in the spring, be sure to check the trail website for the latest conditions. Continue through the park past a visitor center, playground, parking lot, picnic area, water fountain, and restrooms.

The trail then diverges from the rail corridor onto a low-traffic shared roadway. Known as the Bow Ridge Switchback, this segment is the most challenging. Study the elevation graph provided along the path to gauge your abilities before continuing over an impressive stone-arch bridge that once carried the rail line over the Conemaugh River. After crossing the bridge and passing two sealed tunnels, the trail grows steep and rough. Continue uphill along loose gravel before switching back onto a rolling singletrack trail through wooded hillside.

In just under 0.5 mile, use extreme caution as the trail heads into a steep and narrow descent containing loose gravel and ruts. Be ready to dismount to use the staircase at the base of the hill with a side ramp for bikes. The trail continues east from the opposite end of the plugged railway tunnel across a small stone-arch bridge that is sometimes laced with flooding debris.

The final portion of trail alternates between shady forested areas and river crossings on gravel-covered asphalt. The trail ends at a small parking area just west of a gravel access road leading to Newport Road, about 2 miles shy of cafés and refreshments in Blairsville.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach parking near the western endpoint in Saltsburg from I-76, take Exit 57 for I-376 W/US 22 W toward Pittsburgh. Keep right, following signs for US 22 E/Murrysville. Merge onto US 22 E, and go 1.7 miles. Take the SR 286 E/Golden Mile Hwy. exit, and go 17.4 miles. Veer right to remain on SR 286 E/Waukeena Road, which becomes SR 981 as it approaches the Kiskiminetas River. Go 1.9 miles, and turn left onto SR 286 E/Washington St. to cross the river. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto SR 286 E/Salt St. Parking at North Park is on the left, across from the fire department. The endpoint by Blacklegs Creek is located 1.0 mile farther north along the trail.

To reach parking at the Conemaugh Lake National Recreation Area from I-76, take Exit 57 for I-376 W/US 22 W toward Pittsburgh. Keep right, following signs for US 22 E/Murrysville. Merge onto US 22 E, and go 18.5 miles. Take a left onto SR 981 N, and follow it 4.7 miles. Turn right onto Tunnelton Road, and go just under 2 miles (the Conemaugh River will be on your left). Turn left to continue on Tunnelton Road/SR 3003, crossing the river. Go 1.0 mile, turn right onto Auen Road, and go 0.75 mile. Turn right onto the access road to the Conemaugh Lake National Recreation Area, and follow the roadway to the parking area.

To reach parking at the eastern endpoint in Blairsville from I-76, take Exit 57 for I-376 W/US 22 W toward Pittsburgh. Keep right, following signs for US 22 E/Murrysville. Merge onto US 22 E, and go 27.4 miles. Take the exit toward SR 217/Blairsville, and turn right onto W. Ranson Ave. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto SR 217 N. Go 0.7 mile, and turn left onto Newport Road. After about 0.8 mile, as the roadway begins to bend north, turn left onto a small gravel driveway marked with a West Penn Trail sign. Slowly follow this gravel access road west 0.2 mile to a small parking area and trailhead.

West Penn Trail Reviews

Interesting and taxing 13 miler

This is second time doing trail with the wife. First time was a year or two ago, and in summer we were in better shape. We parked in the lot off rt 286 across from the volunteer FD.

Next 4 miles take you thru Saltsburg, past the community park and into a trail cover by trees (for the most part).

At Elders run, you make a left hand turn up the hill. This is the Dick Mayer section of trail, which is about 1 mile of "up" on mostly hard packed dirt, then 1 mile down-whee. The climb is vigorous and be ready to gear down, some small sections are pretty steep-the wife had to walk the bike a little bit. This section is combo of hard packed dirt and crushed limestone gravel. It will jolt you a bit if you dont watch out for exposed rocks, ruts, etc. I would not want to do this trail after wet weather

Once you get to the state park and Conemaugh Dam, lots to do and see. Dam overlook, dam itself, the park, people in the park etc.

Leaving the park you go down an asphalt road (pretty steep) and back up around to the bridge which takes you across the Conemaugh River. You will come to the barricaded Bow Ridge tunnel. You need to head left and up again to the Bow Ridge section of the trail. pretty steep again, very low gears, and long. Loose gravel too, so again not amenable to wet weather travel. again, the Bow Ridge section is about a mile uphill, and then a mile down to a very steep switchback that ends with steps which take you to the other end of the Bow Ridge tunnel)closed). From there you ahve about 5 miles of flat across bridges spanning the Conemaugh (first bridge surface not in good shape, will jar you pretty good) and secluded valleys between.

The trail is fun because it is different, and scenery a good mix of small city, forest, hills, a state park, the dam, steps, bridges, etc. You have to walk the bike for some sections, depending on your experience level biking.

Well worth it, if your prepared for the climbs with proper tires and air.

First, I am an amateur rider, just started biking only 6 weeks ago and I am 61. The many hill climbs are not for your Rail-Trail, flat riders.
The bridges over the Conemaugh, and 1 tunnel that you can go through, are as spectacular as you will find anywhere. Some climbs are over 10% for a sightable distance, and one section over 12%.
The key to the climbs, are low air pressure and good off-road knobby tires. Also, of course, you must be able to crank very hard for some distance.
I made all but one hill, as my back tire with semi-road-off road tires, spun out on me and I lost 100% traction and bailed out. NOT easy when your clipped into your pedals!
All I can say, is this is the most beautiful Trail I have ridden to date (done a good bit so far). If your fit, then go for it. The rewards are many!
Just make sure you have low pressure and good tires, and maybe a pump on board, so you can repressurize for the flat sections on both ends.

Trail of many Faces

Read the trail description, the reviews, AND the West Penn Trail website. This is an awesome trail but NOT for casual riders or those not used to serious climbs and loose gravel. That said, we loved the challenges of riding it end and back from Blairsville. You must be able to push or carry your bike up several flights of wooden stairs and later climb and descent short pieces in excess of 12%. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with many river crossings, tunnel views, and lots of amazing views. Don’t miss this trail if you’re in the area and want a challenge.

Challenging!!!!! But lot's to see, very historical.

We biked this trail early July. It was not flooded. The nearby Conemaugh dam is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers and they have a Facebook page with the daily water level. You can also call them.
We parked at Conemaugh Dam where there is a nice visitors center, restrooms and picnic areas. West Penn Trail goes right through the parking lot.
We biked through Tunnelview Historical site and pushed our bikes through and across Bow Ridge. We passed the two Bow Tunnels (closed and even plugged). Biking on the trail with our road bikes was quite a challenge since the trail was more like a Mountain Bike trail. Then again, you are crossing over the mountain.
Once on the other side, we walked our bikes some more descending to the other side of the Bow tunnels. The first bridge at Livermore was a few feet above the water.
We biked from there to Blairsville and back crossing a few more bridges over the Conemaugh River. That section of the trail is nearly flat and dirt/crushed limestone. There are historical signs along the trail.
If you are looking for a nice leisurely trail this is not the trail! If you are looking for a good workout, this trail is for you.
From Conemaugh Dam it's 2 miles over the hills and through the woods to the railroad grade at the first bridge in the former town of Livermore. From there it's about 4 miles to Blairsville.


Surprise flooding

I hiked this in May from Blairsville to the Connemaugh Dam. On my first hike the railway bridges were hundreds of feet above the Connemaugh river. The trail was empty except for one other couple. We both wondered how large logs were tangled in bridge supports as though they had been washed there. It's an extremely beautiful hike, the best of Pennsylvania. I passed over about three railway bridges that looked far down to the river and valley. You hike up and down a steep mountain to get to the dam. I hiked it a second time a week later, construction workers in the parking lot said winter floods had covered the bridges by 50 feet. ( I didn't believe them) The valleys these bridges cover are huge, perhaps a half mile wide, you look down on islands with fully grown trees. Hiking to the dam I passed an older hiker who said, " watch yourself ahead" and kept walking. Two bridge crossings further, to the bridge at the foot off the hill before the dam I had a shock. Water had risen to the bridge deck and as I watched covered the bridge and debris floated over, a huge valley had been flooded. I turned back thinking of the two bridges I had to cross over the same river before Blairsville. Both were clear but it was amazing to see a full valley flooded and just the tips of trees above water. I guess that is what the old timer meant by "watch yourself" . Wish he had been a bit less taciturn. Don't know how you find out if Dam is going to release a few billion gallons of water but "watch yourself" . Also it was a fabulous Hike and completely amazing, with deer, owls, catfish in the shallows and something large crashing just off the trail.

My Favorite Trail in the Pittsburgh Area

This trail is not a typical rail trail. It is hilly in the middle and challenging. Great scenery, wilderness, and I love the workout it provides. Plus you can extended your ride by combining your ride with the connecting Westmoreland Heritage Trail.

Not a typical Rails Trail

If you are looking for a typical Rails Trail, this one is not for you. It actually is about the first 3.5 miles from each end, but the middle 5 miles are more of a non-technical, hilly single path. It has two 400 foot elevation changes during these miles. I consider myself an intermediate rider and 25 miles (round trip from Saltsburg to Blairsville) was harder than 50 miles on the Armstrong trail. It is a nice ride for the right rider.....but I definitely would be honest about your skill level. The Trails around the Conemaugh Dam was awesome!!!!

Could be a nicer trail, needs some maintenance

Started at Saltsburg at the south end of Salt St. Had to park in a "Temporary parking lot" today. Usual parking area has been taken over by heavy equipment constructing new sewage treatment plant. This will continue indefinitely. PortoJohn available at old parking lot. We ride east on West Penn Trail to left turn away from river between 3.5 and 4.0 miles. Follow trail 2.2 more miles to the Conemaugh Dam. Return same route. Lots of small hills along the last 2.2. miles. Lunch at Fox's on Salt St. Good menu, good food, not fancy, not expensive. River and Trail Café is no longer open. Replaced by another restaurant not open on Monday. Trail was bumpy and not maintained well from Saltsburg going east. Last half mile past Conemaugh Dam turnoff is still rough, no limestone surface. More construction along the trail. Could be a nice trail. Don't know who handles maintenance. All in all, the trail follows the river for 3.5 miles and then heads into a forested area and then to the Conemaugh Dam. It is pleasant riding and a little challenging.

Water fountain?

Ran from Delmont to Saltsburg and back Saturday morning. Sure would have been nice to find the water fountain operable at the playground where the West Penn Trail intersects the Westmoreland Heritage Trail.

Very enjoyable trail

My friend and I rode parts of the West Penn Trail for the first time yesterday, and we definitely plan to come back. It is well work the 1.5 hour drive.

We started out in Saltsburg, and we rode east to mile marker 10.

The first 4 miles or so are nice and flat, then after a sharp left turn the terrain becomes more challenging. We both had mountain bikes, but my friend is more fit than I.

Be very careful heading down the switchback; I went slowly, but still skated a bit.

The next couple of miles we rode were flat again.

The scenery is very attractive.

After finishing the 20 miles round trip, we were quite hungry. We asked a local for the best food in town, and he recommended the River and Trail Grill. The food was fantastic! I also recommend it.

What a great day! We definitely will ride the trail again and dine on some excellent food!

Well worth the trip

If you are planning to ride the entire trail, be prepared for some crazy terrain in the middle best suited to mountain bikes, but worked well with my hybrid too. About a 5 mile stretch (+/- 2.5 miles from Conemaugh Dam) has some big climbs and rapid decents such that strong legs and good brakes are a must. The balance of the trail (to include the 8.5 additional miles on the Westmoreland Trail that meets up in Saltsburg) is all very scenic but only has mild grades and is an easy and charming trail to ride with any bike. I started from the eastern trailhead near Blairsville which is quite remote. Don't expect much in way of amenities until you get to the Dam.
Fine ride, will definitely do it again.

This is a good challenge

I rode out from Saltsburg all the way to the eastern terminus at Newport Road. Riding east, just before you hit mile 4, the trail takes a hard left and things get tough. Effectively for the next 4+ miles you're going over two ridgelines, and it's not easy. Most of it can be ridden, but after you cross over the river on the old bridge and detour the Bow Ridge tunnel, coming down to the RR grade on the eastern side of Bow Ridge is switchbacked and steep. Stairs at the bottom, so be ready to dismount. After that, all the way to the eastern end is paved, smooth and beautiful. The water level in the pool behind the dam was low enough I could see a lot of the old canal works out there. I did the out and back and going back is no easier than going out. Be prepared to carry or push going over Bow Ridge. Most of the trail surface is in really good shape, but the routing is a little weird, and there were a couple rough spots due to recent work and flooding. Watch the leaves this time of year, wet leaves can be exceptionally slippery!

Tremendous experience

I rode the trail from 219 to the Connemaugh Damn. It was the most picturesque length of trail I have ever seen. Climbing the steps with the bike and biking down to the damn was a good work out but riding back up the hill to return was a killer. No matter, it was a phenomenal ride and I recommend it for everyone who is in shape. There must be some interesting history as to how this area was used by industry before the trail was established. The bridges across the water are construction marvels. I will return again and again.

worth the visit

My wife and I rode the trail today from Saltsburg to the 5.5 mile marker.The first 4 miles is easy enough for any level rider,but after that I would suggest only going on if you are looking for something more strenuous and only on a mountain or hybrid bike.
The trail can be narrow with ruts and a lot of uphills where you will be walking the bike.There is enough scenery to make it worth the extra effort.
Pack lots of water if you plan on doing more than 4 miles up,it is very secluded and no where to refill.
We are planning to go back to ride to the dam which is about another 3 miles from where we left off.
The other thing nice about this is you can also get on the west moreland heritage trail which intersects and is much easier to ride.
Good place to spend the day,Saltsburg is a neat little town..enjoy!

Nice trail - cyclists take note of closed tunnel

I've ridden most of this trail on a loaded touring bike. Some parts of western half are a little rough for a road bike and have some loose gravel on steep grades. If you are cycling this trail, especially if you happen to be on a loaded bike, note that the tunnel closure presents a significant obstacle. Each time that I've riden through, I've had to take all of the bags off of my bike, carry them up the steep single-track/staircase trail to the top of the hill on the eastern side of the closed tunnel, and then walk back down and carry my bike up. At the top, I could reload my bike and ride carefully down the trail/road on the western side to the dam. While this isn't terribly difficult (the climb is short), plan for it to take extra time.

Otherwise, the trail is nice and scenic with a nice, smooth surface most of the way.

Complex History - Fascinating Trail

The West Penn was one of the first rail-trails I rode, some 775 trail miles and 4 years ago. The oncoming spectacular foliage beckoned me to spend a few short evening hours of this past beautiful weekend revisiting my old friend 15 miles north. I only got out 3 miles east from Saltsburg, but what I saw this time was simply fascinating. The Pennsylvania Main Line Canal was the first "high traffic" corridor through this river valley, but only for a short few 20 years or so. The West Penn Railroad came along in 1864 and built the first rail line high up on the river bank through the Kiski River valley, and high up on the hill in Saltsburg. Take a quick trip up the hill from the trail and check out the old city hall. It was the FIRST railroad station in Saltsburg, and it is worth visiting. Check out the wealth of priceless pictures inside! These people are very friendly, and very history conscious! Now, when you park near the PA-286 bridge to access the trail right behind you, check out those old stone piers down the river. Those are the piers of that first railroad bridge to cross the Kiski River here, and it served that old train station way up there on the hill! Along comes the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1902. They drained the old canal, and laid the new (2nd) railroad line on top of the (mostly) filled-in canal bed! The handsome "new" (2nd) railroad depot was located on the north side of that 286 crossing, at the east end of the new road bridge. Dangling crossarms rot on the few old pre-1950 telegraph poles along the trail on this line, a mile east of town. Skip ahead to 1950. After the devastating regional floods of 1936, they decided to build a flood control dam up here to protect Pittsburgh. Some nice new plaques along the trail east of town explain the decision to build it WAY downstream. Nevertheless, 15 miles of a new main line Conemaugh Division main line railroad had to be built around Saltsburg. You can see that current (3rd) railroad line, now Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh-New Florence "Conemaugh Line", way up there behind White Station. You might even see or hear a train or two chugging east. The "old main line" (the West Penn Trail) was retained from White Station to Saltsburg so the railroad could still access that coal-rich branch line between Saltsburg and Trafford (the new Westmoreland Heritage Trail, currently running west to Slickville). Now the fascinating part of this is that you can see ALL of these transportation eras on this trail! About 25 years ago, Dr. William Dzombak, a professor at nearby St. Vincent College, in conjunction with Saltsburg's annual Canal Days festival, conducted a walking tour, through the then-high weeds of the intact old railroad, showing us quite a few traces of the old canal! Those traces are quite visible upstream from town, indeed, much of the canal bed still contains standing water, and the old towpath is quite visible at many places! I know there are water inlets and outlets and such out there, because we saw them back then. And while you are contemplating the old canal, look way up above you on the hillside, and observe that first railroad line grade riding up against those rocks! I was thinking, what a spectacular ride THAT must have been, up on that rock ledge! I do intend on revisiting, very slowly and very carefully, that four or five miles east from Saltsburg after all of the foliage is gone. What a place! It's just so beautiful, and so quiet and peaceful back there! Having just returned from the Xenia-Dayton trails out is Southwestern Ohio, let me say that there is a lot to be said for these wonderful, ISOLATED trails with no major 4-lane (or even busy 2-lane) noisemakers running parallel to them! This is a GREAT trail, and it IS one with a FASCINATING, almost 200-year history! Just drink it in!

West Penn Rails to Trails, flooded section

My husband and I just got off the trail an hour ago. For us, we've never seen the water level this high. Unfortunately when you get near the Stone Arch bridge closest to the blockaded tunnel (the base of the switchback) you may have a hard time getting through since the water is over the bridge. So, for us, we enjoyed turning around and going to the end again...the spring scents are beautiful. Such a unique trail - we love it!

Then and Now

I have recently walked a short distance on the West Penn Trail with my 84 year old mother and one of my four sisters, it was so pleasant and such an easy walk that Mother was able to walk 1.5 miles.
But my story begins much earlier in time. In the early 1960’s we would walk this still used railroad track from White Station to Saltsburg to go to the Saltsburg Movie Theater, at that time we had to listen for the occasional oncoming train and had no time to notice the surroundings nor were we much interested at that time rather than flowers and trees the typical landscape coal company scares was and the Conemaugh river then smelled of the sulfur run off from coal mines in the area. And so as we walked there recently without the fear of an oncoming train our mother told us of walking to school using this same root in the 30’s and of those now gone who walked here with her. As bicyclists passed and nodded or stopped to chat we spoke of old times good and bad, of fresh air, the scent of spring and beauty of the wild flowers and how amazing it is to now see the changes in the landscape, all of the loveliness, the calm splendor of the area as it is now. I’m sure as the weather clears we will spend more time getting to know one another all over again along the West Penn Trail. The trail is truly a welcome prescription for the heart and soul.

Not your typical rail trail

If you are accustomed to riding the Great Allegheny Passage and other railtrails in Western PA, be advised, the West Penn Trail may not be what you expect. Much of the trail is steep, gravelly, single-track and, depending on the weather, muddy. It is, however, a fun ride through some beautiful spots, and you may find it well worth the effort. We did. (Road bikes not recommended.)

Very fun, Quite Challenging at times

This was my first trip to a rail trail. I did not know what to expect. I must say I was very impressed by the condition of the trail considering the time of year. The trail was clear of almost all debris. I started at the Saltsburg end just down from the Westmoreland Heritage Trail connection. The first 4 plus miles are very easy as you follow the river, pretty flat. Then comes the Dick Mayer section, I'm not quite sure how long it was, certainly a few miles. This is way more challenging. Many changes in elevation, some pretty good extended climbs. You then come out at the Conemaugh River Dam, which is pretty cool. You go down to the river and across a stone bridge then a fairly long climb up to the top which is directly across from you r previous position on the other side of the dam. I took the trail which runs along the ridgeline. Some nice views to be had here. The trail continues down the other side of the mountain to a fairly flat section of several miles where you cross over 4 beautiful stone bridges. I'm a rookie so the return trip was pretty brutal but I will definetly return. Overall, This trail was very fun for mountain biking but I would not recommend the Dick Mayer section for average cyclists.

Trail link connection review

"I have ridden this trail several times before and really like the trail section from the Westinghouse trail end on up to the tunnel at Bow Ridge. The views from the bridges on the trail are really nice, especially around sunset, and the view of the bridges themselves from down at water level is nice as well....reminds me of the Monocacy aqueduct on the C&O Canal, only on a larger scale. The best place to get down to water level to see a bridge is at the third bridge...go to the end of the bridge and walk down the embankment on it's left side, it's the most gradual slope.....watch out for the riverbank because it's really soft and muddy.

This section of the trail is paved with a semi-coarse pavement, and is around 3.3 miles long. You'll often see the locals out fishing on this section of trail. This is the best section of the West Penn Trail to visit if you plan on going to it. They have built a trail connection/detour from this section, up over Bow Ridge and down into the Conemaugh Dam park that links the Eastern end up with it's Western trail section that runs to Saltsville, but it's kind of a rough connection.

At the end of the 3.3 mile section from Westinghouse to the tunnel the trail goes up up a set of stairs and a small switchback to get to the top of the hill. The stairs are fairly steep, but there is a ramp built into the side of them to make it easier push your bike up them. From the top of the hill the trail follows the ridgeline gently rolling along for around for .53 of a mile. At the end of this section you come out onto a dirt and gravel road that overlooks the Conemaugh Dam, from here you make a 180 degree turn to you left and follow this dirt road down to the bottom of the hill. Be carefull...the road is fairly steep and when I rode it the surface was fairly soft and loose from the lack of recent rain...you'll be on your brakes the whole way down. You'll pass several of the old canal and railroad tunnels on the way down the hill, and from the top of this section down to the last tunnel near the bridge is .39 of a mile.

From the tunnel the trail crosses over the bridge, which gives you a nice view of the railroad bridge, the river and the dam. At the end of the bridge the trail goes downhill to the left and down into Tunnelview Park. From here you go under the bridge, then uphill in to the Conemaugh Dam park. Straightahead near the road entrance to the park is the visitor's center...you'll see a sign near the right side of it for the Woodchuck Nature Trail. Get on the trail here, turn left on the trail behind the visitor's center and follow the gravel path that runs parallel to the main road leading out of the park. The distance from the last tunnel at the bridge, up into the park to the visitor's center is .85 of a mile.

From the visitor's center the connection path is crushed limestone/gravel, and runs along side the park road for a short distance before it turns off into the woods, following the Woodchuck Nature Trail. This section follows the nature trail for a short distance before you'll see a white cardboard sign for the West Penn Trail pointing you to the left, to go uphill through the woods...this section is a short combination of singletrack and fireroad-type of trail. The trail passes through a gate, across a road, then continues on the other side going gradually uphill. This section is similar to a fireroad in it's condition and the terrain it follows...kind of rough and rolling terrain. This section is around .95 of a mile long, until you get to the top of a hill and the trail starts heading down.

This short downhill section is about .3 of a mile long and is kind of treacherous due to it being downhill, and also the trail surface is heavily rutted, washboarded, and soft...I'd be carefull going down this section if you're an inexperienced rider.

From the bottom of the first rutted downhill section the trail continues along, crosses another road, and still has a fireroad feel to it due to it's condition, and the way it goes through the rolling terrain. There is another steep short downhill section that passes under an old road or railroad bridge...both this downhill section and the rutted one I mentioned above were steep enough to require using the grannygear chainring when coming back up them traveling in the opposite direction....in other words you'll be on the brakes hard going down. From under the bridge it's a short distance over some more rutted/washboard trail to the end of the connection link and the start of the Saltsburg section. Total length of this section from the bottom of the first rutted downhill section to the end is around 1.4 miles.

IMHO this connection section is not something I'd recommend to your typical casual cyclists...especially the older folks that I often see out riding Rails To Trails that have limited cycling abilities/skills. This connection is NOT level, not smooth, and is more like a fireroad or forest service road in it's character. If you have experience riding offroad on fireroads you shouldn't have a problem doing it, otherwise you'll probably be walking your bike on the steeper sections. The total distance for this whole connection link between the bottom of the stairs at the start of it on the Eastern end to it's Western end where it connects to the Saltsburg section came out to 4.48 miles on my bike computer.

I also did the Saltsburg section of the trail, which is a typical nice crushed limestone trail of about 3 1/2-4 miles long, until it ends in Saltsburg. Saltsburg has some historical plaques in town describing the canal and it's operation.

I also rode the Saltsburg to Trafford section of trail, that one crosses a nice bridge across the river at it's start before it passes through a road underpass. On the other side of the underpass the trail turns into a surface of fine compact original ballast dust...kind of like a ""normal"" Rail Trail, but black. The trail surface was OK, fairly smooth except for a few spots where there were washouts. This section of trail was pretty short, around 2.6 miles long, and dead-ends on an embankment overlooking a 2-lane road. "

Not What We Envisioned

"This trail was not what the description led us to think the trail was like. There was no mention of going up the steps to get to the road trail on the other side of the Tunnel. This is entirely two different trails and should not be considered as one. By the way, when you get to the dam, there are no signs to lead you to link up to go west to Saltsburg. Both ends of this trail are short ""on the trail"" rides of 4 miles or less."

Way Better Than Expected!!!

"I can't say this enough . . . this trail is awesome! I was so surprised at the natural beauty of this trail. This was my first time here, and I started at the Westinghouse Road parking area of off Rt. 22. I rode approx. 6 miles one way and couldn't find the trail to Saltsburg, so I turned around and went back. What I saw on those six miles reminded me of the African Serengetti during the rainy season. I saw great views of the vast flood plains surrounding the river and cool bridges that allowed me to see nothing but pure wilderness as far as the eye can see. I saw a tunnel that was closed to all traffic, and a steep set of steps that takes you over the mountain, and down into a valley where the Conemaugh Dam regulates the river flow. I saw lots of cool birds and 2 raccoons (in seperate areas) that ran away from me. There were more tunnels on the other side with historical documentation and a really cool aqueaduct and steel railroad bridge. I also saw part of an old canal system and towpath, and a park area, where I lost the trail and turned around. Other than the fact that I couldn't find the rest of the way into Saltsburg, this trail is excellent, and I will start at the other end next time, so I can do the entire trail (and hopefully find my way)."

Great Ride

This is a great nature trail that is awesome for beginners. Currently it's an out and back ride of over six miles. The trail is very flat.

There are four bridges over the Connemaugh River that allow you to enjoy the wonderful scenery. I can't wait until the trail is longer. Definitely a beautiful ride.

Awesome views

"This is a sweet trail but needs to connect to be longer. The trail may connect to Trafford someday, which will be great."

Nearby Trails

Go Unlimited Today!

  • FREE Account
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Post your trail reviews
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Get a free map in the app!
Register for FREE
Purchase Unlimited

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google

Log in with Apple


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 40,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google

Register with Apple


Your account has been deleted.