West Penn Trail

The West Penn Trail is a 17-mile rail-trail between the Westinghouse trailhead near Blairsville and Saltsburg. The trail crosses historic bridges and travels through woods, climbing some steep grades before arriving back on level rail-trail along the Conemaugh River to Saltsburg, where it follows the historic path of the Main Line Canal through Saltsburg's National Historic District to the site of Blacklegstown.

photo: West Penn Trail follows the Conemaugh River from near Blairsville to Saltsburgh, PA. Photo by Mary Shaw Type: Backcountry
Equestrian Trail
Fitness Trail
Mountain Bike Trail
Nature Trail
Rail Trail
Length: 17.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Bicycling (on pavement), Bicycling (off pavement), Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running, Roller/Inline Skating, Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Agency: Nonprofit
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: Southwestern Pennsylvania; trailheads at Saltsburg, the Conemaugh Dam, and Livermore.


States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Indiana and Westmoreland
Latitude: 40.48175   Longitude: -79.44768

US 22 to PA 981 North at New Alexandria to the Saltsburg trailhead US 22 to PA 981 North at New Alexandria to Tunnelton Road to SR 3003 to the Conemaugh Dam trailhead US 22 to Livermore Road to the Livermore trailhead.

Description

The 17-mile West Penn Trail extends from its eastern terminus at Newport Road near Blairsville, over Bow Ridge and past the Conemaugh Dam, through Saltsburg and on to the site of Blacklegstown, once a Shawnee and Delaware village just down the Kiskiminetas River from Saltsburg. A key section of the Pittsburgh-To-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™, the trail follows the alignment of the historic Pennsylvania Main Line Canal for much of its length.
The West Penn Trail offers a unique hiking and biking experience, with several miles of hills and grade changes sandwiched by two sections of rail- trail. The middle portions, Bow Ridge and Dick Mayer sections, are an attraction for those seeking a challenging outing, while the rail-trail sections offer an even surface for a more relaxing experience.
Here is a description of each section:
Conemaugh River Lake Section (4.5 miles)
The 4.5-mile trail section extends from Newport Road near Blairsville, across the Q-Span Pedestrian Bridge and ultimately to the Bow Ridge Tunnel and switchback section of the trail. The trail follows a portion of the Pennsylvania Railroad line that operated along the corridor in the first half of the 19th Century. This section also passes over four spectacular stone arch bridges built in 1907 which offer beautiful views of the route of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, which operated in the 1800s.
Bow Ridge Switchback to Conemaugh River Lake (2 miles)
The Bow Ridge Switchback is located at the western end of the West Penn Trail's Conemaugh River Lake section….at the old railroad tunnel entrance. A switchback trail has been constructed up the face of Bow Ridge. The switchback grade may be challenging if climbing instead of descending.
From the top of the Ridge, the trail proceeds down to the Conemaugh Dam hydropower plant, past two old railroad tunnel entrances from the 1800's, crosses a bridge and proceeds down to the Tunnelton Main Line Canal Park. Then it's a short trip up the hill to the Conemaugh River Lake Recreation Area featuring a picnic area and playground, visitors center, nature trail and impressive views of the Conemaugh Dam itself.
West Penn Trail Dick Mayer Section (2 miles)
A trail link between the Conemaugh River Lake and Saltsburg Sections of the West Penn Trail was formally dedicated in the Spring of 2007, and named in honor of former Conemaugh Valley Conservancy President Dick Mayer. The grade along this section can be occasionally challenging, but the trail is not a single track so it is easier to navigate than a typical mountain bike trail.
West Penn Trail-Saltsburg Section (4.5 miles)
The Saltsburg Section proceeds 4.5-miles from the intersection of the Mayer Section into Saltsburg. This section passes through beautiful backwoods that contain visible canal and railroad remnants that hug the Conemaugh River.
Saltsburg to Kiski Section Connection
From the Saltsburg trailhead, the trail extends through Saltsburg's Canal Park and under the Route 286 bridge to the Kiski Section Trailhead.
Kiski Extension: Saltsburg to Blacklegs Creek & Beyond (2 miles)
The section proceeds from Saltsburg's Canal Park to Blacklegs Creek where a bridge extends the trail another mile down river.

Additional Details

Width: 96 inches.
Primary Surface: Crushed Rock
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 2%
Elevation Low Point: 845
Elevation High Point: 1,200
Year Designated: 2009

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Document: Historic stone-arch railroad bridges carry the Wes
Document: The West Penn Trail follows the course of the hist

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Jack Maguire
Trail Manager
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
P.o. Box 502
Hollsopple , PA 15903 -502
(814) 479-7162
http://www.conemaughvalleyconservancy.org

 

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