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The Westmoreland Heritage Trail is an excellent example of a family-friendly multi-use rail-trail. This crushed-limestone trail features reclaimed railroad bridges over the Conemaugh River and Loyalhanna Creek, both offering great views of the river hydraulics below. The trail offers opportunities for bird watchers and other naturalists as well.
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail runs along the Turtle Creek Branch of the former Penn Central rail corridor, which fell into disuse in 1972. The rail line was originally opened in 1852 by a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, led by George Westinghouse, Jr. to connect Saltsburg and Export. The line served to transport both passengers and freight between the many towns along its route.
Even on the hottest summer day you will find yourself enveloped in a lush deciduous canopy on this scenic trail. A portion of it runs along a small tributary that attracts various wildlife, and natural seeps can be seen in the limestone railroad cuts at various points. The trail has a distinct uphill grade virtually the entire 5-mile length from Saltsburg to Slickville, offering a fine opportunity for a quick downhill ride back to Saltsburg. At its eastern end in Saltsburg, the Westmoreland Heritage Trail connects to the West Penn Trail.
A 3.7-mile extension of the trail from Slickville to just north of Delmont opened in 2013. The new segment features a steep climb west of Slickville leading to a rapid descent to Beaver Run Reservoir. The trail skirts the edge of the reservoir before reentering a peaceful, densely-wooded landscape.
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail currently ends at a trailhead on Athena Drive in Delmont, but the Regional Trail Corporation hopes to extend it all the way to Trafford for a 22-mile rail-trail experience and connections to other trails.
To reach the Saltsburg trailhead from Blairsville, take US 22 West. Turn right onto State Route 981 North, toward Saltsburg. In approximately 7.5 miles, turn right onto Washington Street and take the bridge across the river into Saltsburg. Go 500 feet and turn right onto Salt Street. The street bears left and becomes Canal Street. At the end of Canal Street, turn right into the small public playground parking area near the playground equipment. Both the Westmoreland Heritage Trail and the West Penn Trail can be accessed here.
In the west, parking is available at the Slickville Lions Club Ball Field on SR 819 and at the new John G. Rangos and James Peretto Family Trail Access Area on Athena Drive, just north of Delmont.
Road the trail mid day yesterday doing a full circuit end to end and back. It was 88 and humid so the 4.5 mile slight grade from Saltsburg to Slickville had me working up a sweat. It was good to try a rail trail that gave me a little bit of a work out. The scenery is great in several places. I will be back.
Quiet trail, winds through woods, open meadow and over small lake. Great for biking or running. Mostly flat.
This is a more challenging trail than many "rails-to-trails" because of the steeper climb on the way to Delmont. I enjoyed the challenging ride and plan to come back many times per year since I live close.
My wife and I just rode this trail last Saturday for the first time from Delmont to Saltsburg and it is gorgeous and a little challenging. The first half to Saltsburg is easy but back is a lot more difficult. I would say to go and enjoy.
My wife and I went from Saltsburg to Trees Mills and back on a Wed., July 22, 2015 for a late morning 2 hr. ride in perfect weather. I specify the time/conditions in order to offer a different opinion from one reviewer who described the trail as "busy." In mid-week, under these ideal conditions, there was virtually no one on the trail. Perhaps the other reviewer did the trail on a weekend. A second opinion with which I would differ concerns the trail incline out of Saltsburg: here one reviewer described the incline as "steep." Unless you are pathetically out of shape the trail is not steep. Do not let ominous descriptions such as "steep" dissuade you from doing this excellent trail.
I am NEVER happy to see ANY rail line being torn up, but this one inspires mixed emotions. Westmoreland County recently purchased what was the rail service salvation of the west end of Pennsy's Saltsburg-Trafford line, 1992's Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad. This route will be the westward extension and completion of the current Saltsburg-Delmont Westmoreland Heritage Trail to Trafford, and they are tearing up its track right now (See images). The track has been torn up through Murrysville, from the Cat plant just west of the line's US-22 underpass, to Trafford Road, two miles west. This trail segment is guaranteed to be as spectacular as is its current in-service eastern end trail. West of Murrysville, the route descends to Trafford through a very isolated and wild tight valley. The Westmoreland Heritage Railroad brought its equipment up to Export from Youngwood a few years ago, and they ran a Santa Claus special a mile or so west from Export on the shaky track (Carnegie Steel 1921 rail in place at Export). The railroad was banned from tsking a passenger train down into the Turtle Creek Valley due to its poor track condition and tight curves. We had always hoped they might do it some day, but the the entire line was eventually abandoned, as usual, to truck service. Thankfully, now EVERYONE will soon be able to enjoy what promises to be this certainly most spectacular, and very popular, new trail segment! Stay tuned! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 1-17-2015.
Tim and I ran the trail from Delmont to Saltsburg and back Saturday morning in early September, starting just before 7am. What a lovely trail! We saw only one other likely round-trip runner, maybe half a dozen bicyclists, a couple of dog walkers, and a small group of Scouts hiking. The crushed stone surface was in excellent condition the whole way, although there were one or two spots where erosion from water runoff could use some attention. One or two of the mile marker covers have cracked or fallen off. The previously mentioned road crossing warning lights are now functional. Being tired on the way back, we certainly noticed the trail is mostly uphill from Saltsburg to Delmont, and were then grateful for the shade provided by that almost complete canopy. A big thank-you to all those who made this great rail trail a reality!
This trail is very well maintained, and usually quite busy. I've always started this trail in Slickville and worked my way towards Saltsburg. If you are looking to walk or cycle from one side of the trail to the next be aware that the Slickville side is mostly on a hill, which isn't very steep, but a hill nontheless.
When you exit the trail into Saltsburg you can find a public restroom across from the canoe rental in town. In Saltsburg there are a lot of nice places down by the waterfront to have a rest/picnic, or just to watch the canoers and kayakers row by.
Are you training for the ride from Pittsburgh to DC? If so, you should ride this trail! The climb out from Saltsburg to just past Slickville is a gradual climb, but one that will get your heart pumping. We rode this trail on Saturday and went the whole way to Trees Mills on the new extension. The trail surface is fantastic the whole way and the ride on the old rail bed past the Beaver Run Reservoir was definitely a highlight for me. I really hope a way can be figured out soon to extend this trail through Export and Murrysville all the way to Trafford! Great ride, very quiet, lots of shade. Just be careful crossing Rt. 819 at Slickville.
The long-awaited next phase of the proposed Slickville-Trafford trail is almost completed, and is now usable. The southwestward extension has added 3.7 miles of brand new trail, and the Westmoreland Heritage Trail now terminates at Trees Mills, just a mile short of Delmont. The new extension begins at PA-819, the trail's old western terminus. New bike crossing signals, identical to those at Ghost Town's Dilltown crossing, are in place here, but not yet activated. A steep climb from the Slickville trailhead takes the trail up to a very deep cut, then the trail begins a steep, long, 1.5 mile descent down to Beaver Run Reservoir. A neat old concrete railroad overpass is the only structural remnant of the old ex-PRR Turtle Creek Branch you are riding on. It is located 1.5 miles west of Slickville. The old grade crosses over the south end of the reservoir 0.3 miles farther down the hill, flattens out, rounds the reservoir curve, then begins a gentle climb to a series of mild roller coaster dips. The high fills and deep cuts run the trail through beautifully forested and desolate woodland. This is a most quiet and peaceful trail, totally canopied. The trail terminates at Trees Mills, just a mile east of Delmont. It will be a long time before this trail gets to and through Delmont, as the railroad area has been completely developed through town. It will be a grand day when this trail does eventually reach the ex-PRR mainline junction at Trafford, but, for now, this extension is one beautful addition to an already great trail from Saltsburg. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 7-28-2013.
My wife and I recently bought a couple of single speed cruiser bikes. Took us about 1 1/2 hours from Saltsburg to Slickville. Not a bad climb for two older folks with bad knees. The ride back was great - maybe took all of 25 minutes! Should be really beautiful in the summer. Lots of scenery, wildlife, rivers and streams. Will be back.
Although it is a short trail it is one of my favorites. Very colorful in the fall. Views of 3 rivers, lots of parking access from both ends and middle. Terrain is from flat to gradient. I have even meet a black bear on the Slickville end of the trail near Patton.
I just did the trail yesterday by bike starting from Slickville, and it was a very nice ride. As was previously mentioned, the trail is well groomed and flat. It's also wide enough to pass by others without any trouble. It's true that some will find the ride a little boring, but I don't mind being surrounded by forest. You do get a few nice glimpses of the creek nearby, as well as a couple of nice bridges overlooking the scenery.
In and of itself, the current trail would be very short for a bicyclist (4.75 mi). But, since it runs into the West Penn Trail in Saltsburg (12 mi), one can get a very satisfying, and at times scenic, ride. See others' separate reviews on the West Penn Trail. I only did a small portion of it, but I did notice that it seemed overall a bit more rugged than the WHT trail.
I, too, eagerly await the trail's extension to Delmont and ultimately to Trafford.
Great scenery in tranquil setting. I've gotten back in to cycling and since living in PA struggled with some of the hills around town(I'm from the Midwest and used to flat!). The trail is well groomed and smooth. I use slicks on my mountain bike and did not worry about my tires with the terrain. This trail maybe a little bland for some riders. Looking forward to it extending to Trafford!
A lot of work went in to this really nice trail. Well done!
It's an uphill grade all the way from Saltsburg to Slickville, though it's nice and easy.
Just about everywhere you can see the coal mining legacy.
There are boney dumps and acid mine drainage.
A great effort has been made to keep quad bikes off the trail.
I didn't see any.
Two cool bridges, a little tunnel, and a playground at Saltsburg would make this a great stroll for the family with little ones.
See the huge "SLICKVILLE" sign erected on top of a boney pile across from the Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department. Parking available.
I'll come back in the summer when the countryside is green.
I'm looking forward to the completion of the trail to Trafford.
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