Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail

The 88-mile water trail that runs through Cambria, Indiana, Westmoreland, and Armstrong counties. Once degraded by pollution from the very industries that built the economic viability of the area, The Kiski-Conemaugh is now experiencing a spectacular recovery. The route is an important part of the 320-mile Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Main Line Canal corridor of heritage sites, hub communities, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

photo: Kiski-Conemaugh water trail users will pass by several bridge piers, rail road and old automobile bridges. Type: Water Trail
Length: 85.00 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: Water trail that runs from Johnstown, PA in Cambria County to Freeport, PA in Armstrong County.
States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Cambria, Indiana, Westmoreland, Armstrong
Latitude: 40.31631   Longitude: -78.91397

Directions to access sites.
Freeport – From PA (Leechburg Area) follow N toward Freeport over high bridge, merge onto Freeport Rd. but stay in R lane to Freeport exit. Merge onto 2nd St., go one block and turn R onto High St. Go one block to ramp on R. Located ~ 1000 feet upstream on Buffalo Creek from Allegheny River.
Leechburg – From PA 28 take PA 356 S, then 56 E toward Leechburg. Cross Bridge and turn R onto PA 66/Market St. From N turn R onto 1st St. Follow 2 blocks to River.
Hyde Park – From Leechburg take 3rd St. Bridge S over Kiski River. Go 0.5 miles and turn L onto S Gosser Hill Rd (turning lane). Stay straight for 1.7 miles to borough (becomes railroad St). Turn L onto Main St. at fire hall, cross RR tracks, turn L onto Kiski St. Follow to ramp on R
North Vandergrift – From PA 56 E cross bridge heading Northeast over Kiskiminetas River in Vandergrift. Make immediate L onto Jefferson St. Make another immediate L into the access area.
East Vandergrift – From US 22 take PA 66N. At Apollo bridge make L onto McKinley Ave. (don't cross bridge). Follow McKinley 1.5 miles to R onto Chambers, go to stop sign. Turn L onto Kennedy, go to stop sign. Turn R and go over RR tracks. Make L onto alley along racks to park at end of street.
Roaring Run Recreation Area – From PA 66 N cross bridge into Apollo using right lane. Make immediate R onto Kiski Ave., follow ¾ mile, staying R and low onto Canal Rd., 0.7 miles to trail head on R.
Avonmore – From US 22 take PA 981 N toward Saltsburg. Follow 981 about 10 miles and turn R onto PA 156 N at corner with equestrian center. Continue to stop sign at Westmoreland and 2nd sts. Turn L onto gravel drive at Avonmore Municipal Authority Water Collection Area.
Saltsburg – Rivers Edge Park – From US 22 take PA 981 N toward Saltsburg. Follow 981 about 8 miles to PA 286, turn R over bridge and make immediate R onto Water St. Access is on R below Rivers Edge deck.
Conemaugh Dam – From US 22 take PA 981 N toward Saltsburg. Turn R onto Tunnelton Rd. at Marshall's Market. Go 2.7 miles and turn L over bridge then turn R onto Auen Road (follow brown and white Conemaugh Dam directional signs from 981). Follow through parklette and down a big hill.
Aultmans Run – From US 22 take PA 217 exit (Blairsville). Follow PA 217 N 100 yards, turn L onto PA 3009/Newport Road. Go 3.3 miles, turn L onto SR 3007 and go 1.6 miles. Launch is on L at bottom of very rough road.
Bairdstown Bridge – From US 22 take PA 217 exit (Blairsville). Follow PA 217 S (which becomes Walnut St.) into Blairsville. Turn R at the National Guard Armory (looks like a castle) next to library. Go straight until it ends behind the Lutheran Church. Parking area is on the R.
Wyotech Park – From US 22 take PA 217 exit (Blairsville). Follow PA 217 S (which becomes Walnut St. into Blairsville. Turn L onto Johnson Ave., follow through parking area and turn R, then L into Wyotech park. Access is at the end of the park road, past the ballfields.
Bolivar Ball Field – From US 30 take PA 259 N for aprox. 15 miles to Bolivar. Turn L onto 2nd St.at bend in PA 259 and follow to end of road at the ball field. Access is on Tubmill Creek near the confluence with the Conemaugh River.
Robinson – From US 22 take PA 259 S toward Bolivar. About ½ mile before Bolivar, turn L onto Caroline St. in Robinson. Proceed ½ mile and park will be on R next to Community Center.
New Florence – From US 30 take PA 711 N. In New Florence at Uni Mart, go straight at intersection off of 711 (711 goes R). Turn L at 9th St. paved road turns to dirt road. . 8 miles to the river. Put in next to RR bridge.
Power St. River Wall – From the bottom of the Johnstown Inclined Plane, take PA Rt. 56 W/ PA Rt. 403 S. 1.2 miles. Turn R onto 6th Ave. .1 mile to end/intersection with Power St. Gated Ramp.
Baumer St. River Wall – From the bottom of the Johnstown Inclined Plane, take PA Rt. 403 1 mile to red light at bottom of small hill. Veer L onto Hickory St. Bridge over Stonycreek River. Turn L at end of bridge onto Baumer St. .1 mile to end. Gated ramp to your left.
Greenhouse Park – From US 219 take Davidsville exit onto PA 403 N approx 4 miles to Greenhouse Park (on the R ½ mile past the second red light).

Description

Paddlers on the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Water Trail will experience 6 miles of concrete flood control walls starting at river mile 82, passing the Johnstown Inclined Plane and the Conemaugh River Bridge along the way. The Johnstown Inclined Plane, established in 1891 is the world's steepest vehicular incline. The stone arch Conemaugh River Bridge, during the 1889 Johnstown Flood,
blocked debris which then caught fire and burned for days.

For seven miles the 1560 feet deep Conemaugh Gorge – the third deepest river gorge in PA - cuts through Laurel Ridge. Efforts are underway to extend trails through the Gorge. A scenic overlook on Rt. 56 is a great place to view this marvel, and a 4.9 mile hiking trail in the Charles L. Lewis Natural Area on river right also provides fantastic views. The natural area, part of Gallitzin State Forest, was named for a newspaperman and first president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Laurel Ridge State Park abuts State Game Lands 42 and includes the northern terminus of the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail near Seward. The 1308 feet deep Packsaddle Gap is formed where the river cuts through Chestnut Ridge and features extraordinary PA Canal remnants – Lock #5 and 2 miles of revetment wall. Much of Packsaddle is in State Game Lands 153, which makes for a peaceful paddle only occasionally rocked by a passing train.

Native heritage is reflected in several place names along the water trail:
Conemaugh – derived from conunmoch, meaning “otter”; Kiskiminitas – from geischgumanito, has been interpreted as “make daylight” from gischgu (“day”) and ma-nit-toon (“to make) or, from kee-ak-kshee-man-nit-toos, “cut spirit,” from gischkschummen (“cut with a knife”), and manitto (“spirit”).
The Monongahela were pre-historic people known to the area, particularly around Blairsville. Later, the Senecas, Delaware, and Shawnee were prominent.An extensive network of trails, paths, and villages paralleled and crossed the rivers. The Kuskusky Path, or Loyalhanna Trail, crossed what is now Westmoreland County and then traveled north to join the Kiskiminetas Trail near Apollo. Then it was on to the Kittanning Trail, the major thoroughfare.

The Main Line Canal figured prominently in community development along this corridor. Although visible remnants are rare, river and trail users can find remnants on river right:
Mile 26 - Blacklegs Creek Aqueduct, West Penn Trail
Mile 19 - Revetment wall & Flat Run towpath bridge, Roaring Run Trail
Mile 16 - Guard Lock #2, Roaring Run Trail

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Water, moving
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: 957
Elevation High Point: 3
Year Designated: 2013

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.

Public Contact:
Karl King
Trail manager
Allegheny Ridge Corporation
PO Box 348
Altoona , PA 16603
(814) 940-1922
kking@alleghenyridge.org

 

Photos

An abandoned railroad bridge pier stands in the Ki

An abandoned railroad bridge pier stands in the Ki

Paddlers on the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Water Trail

Paddlers on the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Water Trail

 

Floating the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Water Trail ac

Floating the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Water Trail ac

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