Clarion-Little Toby Trail


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Clarion-Little Toby Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Elk, Jefferson
Length: 18 miles
Trail end points: Water St. and Center St. (Ridgway) and Seventh Ave. just south of McCullough Ave. at Taylor Memorial Park (Brockway)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017063

Clarion-Little Toby Trail Description

The Clarion-Little Toby Trail lets you venture on the wild side for 18 miles as it traverses remote state hunting grounds adjoining the Allegheny National Forest. You’ll likely see deer and other wildlife as you follow the Clarion River and Little Toby Creek. There are ghost towns to explore and an off-trail swinging bridge you can cross.  

The trail consists of well-packed, fine gravel and is flat with the exception of a short hill near Ridgway. Although motorized use is prohibited, motorized wheelchairs are allowed. 

The crushed-stone trail connects Ridgway and Brockway, two towns with historic districts that grew out of the early 19th-century logging industry. Both towns offer restaurants and grocery stores to stock up for your travels. The trail follows the former Ridgway and Clearfield Railroad, built in 1883 between Ridgway and Falls Creek to develop coal deposits in the area; the Pennsylvania Railroad acquired the line in 1911. The route fell into disuse between 1968 and 1972, and the Tricounty Rails to Trails Association completed the trail in 2003. 
Because the trail passes through state game lands (Nos. 44 and 54), it’s a good idea to stay on the trail and wear brightly colored clothing during hunting season. At other times you might want to explore the sites of several ghost towns and other landmarks that are described by historical markers. 
Starting in Ridgway, the trail soon joins the Clarion River, which was used to transport lumber downstream in the 1800s. In 1996 the Clarion River was named a national wild and scenic river, quite an accomplishment considering that it was once known as the state’s most polluted river due to acid-mine runoff and tannery pollution. At 2.5 miles, a 0.2-mile gap puts you on Portland Mills Road/PA 949.  
One of the first trailside attractions—at mile 4.1—is the ruins of a dam destroyed by a flood in 1936. Just 0.1 mile beyond this point, you’ll find the ghost towns of Cherry Tree Flat and Mill Haven. At the 5-mile mark, you’ll see the trestle for the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad that crosses the river, and in another mile, you’ll ride alongside those tracks for 1.8 miles. 
At 7.8 miles along the route, you’ll veer away from the tracks and the Clarion River, as you follow a barely perceptible slope upstream along Little Toby Creek toward Brockway. For the next 9 miles, you travel through state game lands.  
Over the next 5 miles, you’ll pass old railroad abutments, the site of a Depression-era public jobs camp, ruins of a quarry and rock crusher, and the ghost towns of Grove and Shorts Mill.  
The off-trail Blue Rock Swinging Bridge connects to another ghost town across Little Toby Creek at 12.2 miles. The footbridge, once the site of a road crossing between Blue Rock and Ellmont, has cables to steady yourself as you cross. You’ll pass a couple more ghost town sites over the last 6 miles before you arrive in Brockway. 

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the trailhead in Ridgway from I-80, take Exit 97 for US 219/Pittsburgh-Buffalo Hwy. Head north on US 219, and go 7.6 miles; then make a sharp right onto US 219 N/Main St. Go about 13.4 miles, and bear left to remain on US 219 N/PA 948. Go 4 miles, and turn left onto Water St. Go 400 feet, and turn left onto Center St. Turn left into the trailhead parking lot. The trail starts directly across Center St.  

 To reach the trailhead in Brockway from I-80, take Exit 97 for US 219/Pittsburgh-Buffalo Hwy. Head north on US 219, and go 7.6 miles. Turn left onto PA 28/Main St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Seventh Ave. Go 0.3 mile, and turn left into the parking lot, which sits adjacent to the Frank Varischetti Football Field and across the street from Taylor Memorial Park. 

Clarion-Little Toby Trail Reviews

Beautiful Scenery

Biked the Brockway end of the trail up to the Swinging Bridge. End of August, 2021. It was very hot out but most of the trail is very well shaded through the woods. Goes through State Game lands.
Trail follows Little Toby Creek. Quiet and peaceful ride.
I was on a hybrid bike and the trail is very flat. Trail surface is crushed stone which there wasn't a lot of, it was well packed dirt and easy to ride on.
Could also mountain bike on this trail or trail run!
I enjoyed my ride very much even though it took me two hours to get to, wished it were closer!

Love this Trail

It’s part of out rail trails tour of 4 states. This trail is well maintained, easy to ride on our gravel and cross bikes, and just a nice ride. Our only “issue” was lack of a rest room at either end.

nice scenic trail

Nice scenic ride along the Clarion river and Toby creek

very nice

Nice trail


Nice ride

Parking near the football field in Brockway, I road up to the swinging bridge twice now. Saw multiple deer both times. Nice easy ride. Took my fly rod with me and fished a bit. Caught one brown trout and let him go. I will be back to do the rest of this beautiful trail. Had a nice breakfast at Morelli's then after the ride was over we went for a great steak at The Rocky Grill.

Easy trail but not very exciting

My husband and I biked this trail the 4th week in July 2018. On Monday we biked from Ridgway to the Croyland trailhead at mile 8.5, near Laurel Run and back. (total approx 17 miles). On Wednesday we biked from Brockway to the Croyland trailhead and back, (approx 19 total miles). The trail seems to have a slight downhill slope from Ridgway to Croyland, and also from Brockway to Croyland. We supposed this is because the Clarion (in the northern portion) flows south, and the Little Toby (in the southern portion) flows north. It is not noticeable until you turn around and go back, which takes more effort and a lower gear.

There are many signs along the trail noting "ghost towns" and former logging and mining sites, but not many ruins can be seen. Walking across the swinging bridge was a fun break. The railroad trestle in the northern portion is impressive.

At approximately mile 10 there was a truck parked on the trail, and a worker with a small backhoe was digging out the ditch along the trail. We had to maneuver around these vehicles, which were taking up the whole width of the trail. The equipment was making deep ruts in the trail. Hopefully these will be flattened and leveled out when the maintenance is completed.

We saw a lot of deer, chipmunks, and a wild turkey. The first day we passed 4 other bikers and a couple joggers near Ridgway. The 2nd day we saw nobody except the maintenance worker. The trail had some vegetation growing in the middle in some sections, but it wasn't a problem. Overall we thought the northern half was in better condition than the southern half. Also, the northern half has frequent benches along the trail. The southern half has one bench that we noticed.

This was fun to ride but not the most exciting rail trail that we have ridden.

June 15 ride

Parked in Brockway and rode trail for 13 miles toward Ridgeway. Trail is a mix of crush stone and dirt. Over grown in some places. Had to duck under limbs sometimes. About 5.8 miles on trail came to swinging bridge. Walked across it. The name is perfect. Hold on to wire or you will go into Toby Creek. At 10.2 mile you will come to Clarion River. I rode 3 more miles and all there was to see is the river, railroad tracks, bike trail(which was on the soft side, tough to pedal), and a major road. The first 10.2 miles is through woods which was very peaceful. My wife and I saw 9 other bikers, 1 deer, and each saw 1 snake. The trail needs some clearing of grass and limbs. There are places only one person can pedal on trail. Also the trail had vehicle ruts from mile 8.5 to mile 9. Also many historical signs on trail of what towns, saw mills, and train stations that use to exist. No remains of anything from these sites. Two old bridge signs do remain. Trail has potential to be better but needs some work.

Secluded and Flat Ride

Trail is a bit over grown with weeds un spots. Had to ride in wheel ruts. Dense woods. Not much to see. Saw several deer. Bring bug spray. Nrockway has several pizza places and grills. Same in Ridgeway. Not many prople on trail.

lost in Dubois.

Thanks for your trail link. Wondering what to do for two nights in Dubois, pa. Downloaded your app. Found trail fast and nearby us. Thanks

The worst thing about this trail is its too short

This trail rivals Pine Creek for seclusion and scenery. For the first 15 miles out of Brockway we saw more deer than people,(it was a Wednesday). Had lunch in Ridgeway before returning to Brockway. There are a few areas where the center of the trail is getting overgrown, not a big deal on a bike but it means one , sometimes two wheels of our trikes were in the grass. Worth the 4 hour drive to get there.

My new found love!

I rode solo from Ridgway to Brockway. I enjoyed my ride very much! It is always cooler on the trail. A nice break from the hot humid days lately. I definitely suggest that you take a break and check out the swinging bridge over Toby Creek!

Very Enjoyable

We rode this trail from Brockway to Ridgeway and back on 08/10/15 and found it to be a nice ride. Usually we start on the low end of a trail so that it's mostly downhill on the return trip. However, this trail is a little different in that it finishes uphill in both directions. If you want the shorter uphill finish start in Ridgeway. It is noted that allocated parking is scarce on each end but there is ample public parking near both places. As with another review there is no restroom facilities along the way. Overall we drove several miles off of our route to ride this trail and we're not disappointed.

Great ride!

I rode this 7/7/15 from Ridgway to Brockway and back and found it quite enjoyable. I ride a hybrid bike on Kenda Happy Medium 700x35 tires @ 50 psi which seemed perfect for the various surface changes along the way. I was comfortably able to maintain an average pace above 14 mph even with the occasional slowdown to squeeze between the barrier posts at the various entry points. I encountered quite a few deer and other various wildlife on my ride which certainly made the workout more pleasant. I will definitely make this one of my regular stops in my fair weather cardio adventures.

Very enjoyable ride.

I rode this trail solo in August 2014 and must agree it's a really nice trail. It's packed cinder/limestone/dirt and rides like an old country road. My old Schwinn trainer bike with 700x28 tires had no problems as long as I kept my speed around 10mph. I tried to speed up at one point, but traction became questionable. The Little Toby Creek section is the most remote portion of the trail once you get a few miles out from Brockway. Eventually you do come along side live rail tracks and the Clarion River. You pass under Rt 949 which will parallel the trail the rest of the way to Ridgway.
I did see lots of wild life, but unfortunately no bears. Even though the day was rather hot & humid I really didn't know that until I came off the trail because it was shady & cool. My Garmin did clock it as just over 18 miles. If it was paved it would be 5 stars.

Great rail-trail, but no facilities enroute.

Yesterday we had a beautiful ride (we used our skinny tire road bikes on the crushed limestone with no problem.) I would have given it five stars but for there were no comfort stations/rest room/ water fountains, or even little towns along the trail, so be prepared to bring it, and hold it.

Steamy 98% Humidity, But Cool On The Trail

Just last week I was visiting family in Ridgway and I brought my recumbent trike to ride this trail.I'm from Chicago so I'm used to humid weather but it was oppressive to say the least. We went on a short 5 mile ride & it was beautiful & COOL! I love all the little waterfalls & rhododendrons covering the hillside, lots of ferns too. I had to shorten my ride due to a RA flare-up, but what I did experience was great!

Beautiful Trail

You can not beat this beautiful rail trail! This trail runs along the Clarion River and is surrounded by beautiful thick, forests. If you need to rent a bike, or need a bike repair, check out Country Squirrel Outfitters, which is located in Ridgway, 1 block from the trailhead.

Outstanding Trail

This is one of the best "Rails-to-Trails" in the region, offering tremendous scenery and historical value. Following a portion of the old Ridgway & Clearfield Railroad which operated 27.23 miles in length to Falls Creek, the trail allows easy biking throughout the mountains. In addition, there are various opportunities to rest along the way, picnic, explore the ruins of the former CCC camps or even find a spot to swim. This trail has something for everyone to enjoy!

Very nice trail

I rode about half of this trail from Brockway going north many years ago (around 2004?). It had a nice, smooth surface and was very well maintained with nice facilities at the trailhead. The trail surface was suitable for a skinny-tire road bike. The area is mostly wooded and very pretty.

Some Post-Thanksgiving Fun

Rode the trail this morning from Brockway to Ridgeway, then back. Even though it was cold (27 degrees at the start), it was still a great ride. Saw a black squirrel running near the trail. Lots of colorful birds.

One of the things I love about this trail is all of the signs showing the "ghost" towns and sites of past train wrecks.

Stopped at the Country Squirrel outfitters in Ridgeway (where Love's Canoe Rental used to be). Very nice people. While I appreciated their offers of warm beverages, I wanted to stay ahead of the changing weather.

I wasn't able to outrun the rain. Still a great ride back. I will definitely ride this again in the other 3 season.

Beautiful trail. To bad the 4 wheelers at the camps that border the trail on the Brockway side are using the trails and tearing them up. I have been riding the trail for years and have never seen it like this. I don't understand why the owners of the camp allow there children to ride loops in their yard and onto the bike path. What a shame!

Enjoyable trail

My husband and I rode about 16 miles total on this trail beginning in Ridgeway. It's very scenic as October is peak foliage for fall color. The surface is packed gravel and fairly flat, so it's an easy ride.

Loved the Clarion-Little Toby Creek Trail

My wife and I rode a portion of the Clarion-Little Toby Creek Trail (starting in Brockway, riding about 6.5 miles to the swinging bridge) on May 14, 2011. The trail is in very good condition, and we both had a great time. We look forward to returning to ride the entire trail!

Gorgeous trail , Spring, Summer and Fall

This trail has beautiful scenery, is peaceful , not a lot of heavy traffic of cyclists or walkers. I've read other users say the trail along the railroad tracks is not very scenic, as I found out the first time I rode on it. A friend of mine likes to take the game commission road to route 949 and ride two miles or so on the road towards Ridgway, the scenery is a lot nicer if you don't mind the occasional car traffic. There is a place to re-enter the trail on the left side of the road just past a hunting and fishing campground. The best time of the year to visit is in the fall during the first and second week of october when the foliage is at peak color. The only thing I wish they had more of along the trail was porta- johns or bathroom facilities, as the only ones are at the trailheads or in the towns of Brockway or Ridgway, so if you gotta go real bad it's gonna be a long 18 miles. Other than lack of facilities, I would recommend this trail to anyone , for its scenery, easy grade for cyclists and peaceful surroundings.

easy to find, easy to ride, easy to have fun...

started in brockway, easy to find trailhead, parking, port-o-johns....rode the southern 11 or so miles, good signage (although missed some mile markers), the history signs were fun to read (ghost towns...whooooo!!!).....rode up the part and along some of the section that joins the active train line....on the way back got a toot from a friendly engineer driving a big, long freight train....stopped at the swinging bridge for a fun diversion.....trail surface was good, although a little wet made it a little tougher in places....very pretty and quiet....only saw 3 other walkers the whole time...just watch as hunting season approaches, lots of signs to wear orange.....

Trails for Trikes: Little Toby

We ride trikes so we differ slightly in our preferences from bike riders. On this very nice trail, the surface is like cement made with course sand. It's hard and quiet and wide enough in most places to ride side by side without running off the edge. In shady places there's light moss growing that doesn't slow you down and makes the ride even quieter. The woodlands are mostly mixed hardwood trees, some quite large, with a bed of lush ferns and velvet covered boulders underneath. The trail runs along water most of the way. If you're willing to climb down from the trail, there are many beautiful places along the stream for a lunch break. Probably the best place though, is on the other side of the swinging bridge about 5 1/2 miles from Brockway. If you're brave enough to cross, there's a picnic table in a very nice setting for your reward.
There were only three less than wonderful aspects of this ride. You have to ride along an active railroad for almost two miles. There's no problem riding, it's just not very scenic. About three miles from Ridgeway, the trail is overgrown and you have to ride on a local road for a hundred yards or so, then get back on the trail. The road isn't heavily traveled and there's a paved shoulder. Then, just before you enter Ridgeway, there's a 10% grade hill going down into town. It's paved and lots of fun, I'm sure, going North, but then you have to climb the hill coming back. We chose to turn around at the top of the hill and head back to Brockway. All in all, this is one of the best and most enjoyable trails we've been on so far, and very well suited to recumbent trikes as well as bikes.

Rolling Hills through the Wilderness

"For a stretch, this trail cuts through woods that border on wilderness. Very quiet, very quaint, with rolling grades that are never so steep as to tire the legs. What I liked most was the high forest canopy that allowed for a sea of ferns. One can see for hundreds of yards through the woods - a rare thing in the East. Start in Brockway and have lunch in the charming town of Ridgeway."

First Trip There

"My family and I had a great time riding bikes on this trail.We saw lots of squirrels,birds, and chipmunks. This is an easy ride with shade and picnic tables, nice place to eat a lunch. There is only 1 hill,but it is a smooth surface. We went to the four mile marker and back.It was nice to follow a river the whole trip. The whole family had fun on this trail."

Little Toby Creek trail

"To all:

This trail is there because of all the hard work Dave Love did to make it so! Stop by Love's canoe and talk with this very unique man. He is a book of knowledge. Excellent trail!

Thanks DAVE

Lee Curry
Proformance Cycle
Wyoming, Pa. "

Nice Trail

"Rode from Ridgeway to the 10 mile marker. Nice trail with a very smooth bed. Stopped at Love's Canoe Rental's and Sales, Mr Love is worht meeting and he also has a bike shop at his place for supplies. The trail was flat and well maintained and should be beautiful in the fall. We rode it on Sep 25, 2005 "

Bear on trail

This was my first time on trail. Two days after seeing a bear on the Pine Creek Trail I saw a mother and three cubs cross the trail one mile from swing bridge. They never saw me. I waited about three minutes then went on by. Other than that the trail is worth riding on. There are plenty of spots to swim in the summer and the surface is great.

Excellent trail for all ages

"We just got back from this trail. What an excellent adventure for a family with young children.

We left out of Brockway (the park is off 219 on Seventh Street west of downtown Brockway) and headed north, with our eight- and six-year-olds in tow. Also along were two other families and their four children.

This trail is flat, scenic, well shaded and well marked with mileage posts. The river views and wide trail made it perfect for the childrens mind to wander. We made it to the ""Swing Bridge"" which is six miles out of Brockway. The kids loved it! Our eight-year-old son wanted to hang from it for his mother to take his picture.

We highly recommend this trail for novice but enthusiastic trail riders. There are a number of diversions for the children to take breaks and find fun.

If you have any suggestions for us to take off on please let us know!

Have fun!"

Beware of middle 2 miles

"Be careful on the middle two miles of this trail. The trail here is very rocky and close to the railroad. You may want to try going from Ridgeway, but take the road on the way back (it's downhill on the road on the way back)."

Biking Clarion Little Toby Trail

"We love to bike the whole trail, but favor the section from Carman , up Toby creek to Brockway. This is a very scenic 10 mile ride through a series of ghost towns. "

this trail was great

I've only walked on this trail 3 times and only been on one of the swinging bridges but I love this trail and will keep going on it as long as I visit brockway. I love being in the woods and beside the creek. I also love the swinging bridge! This weekend will be my fourth time on the trail and my first time going all 18 miles!

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