If you’re looking for some of the best PA rail trails, you’re in the right place!
During my travels throughout Pennsylvania, I’ve had a chance to ride many exceptional PA rail trails, and I’m going to share a few of my favorites with you here.
Pennsylvania is home to more than 2,100 miles of rail trails, the third-most miles of rail trail in any state (behind only Michigan and Minnesota), encompassing nearly 200 different rail trails.
Because these rail trails were originally cleared for train tracks, they’re typically quite flat and wide, making them ideal for beginners as well as advanced level cyclists.
When viewing this list of 11 of my favorite PA rail trails, click on the blue text links in the descriptions to visit the official website of each trail for the most updated maps, trailhead locations, and trail conditions before venturing out to explore them.
1. The Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is a 150-mile trail running from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, PA, making it the longest of the completed rail trails in Pennsylvania.
Along the way the the trail passes through and over dozens of bridges, tunnels, and trail towns as it winds it’s way through the PA Laurel Highlands.
2. The Pine Creek Rail Trail
The Pine Creek Rail Trail runs 65 miles through the heart of the PA Grand Canyon, from from Wellsboro Junction in Tioga County to Jersey Shore in Lycoming County.
The Pine Creek Rail Trail follows the abandoned railroad corridor of the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek, and Buffalo Railroad along the banks of Pine Creek.
3. Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail
The Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail runs parallel to the Lehigh River and the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway from White Haven to Jim Thorpe in Carbon County.
This 26-mile stretch of trail passes by numerous waterfalls, including Luke’s Falls and Buttermilk Falls, as it winds its way through Lehigh Gorge State Park.
4. The Allegheny River/Samuel Justus Trail
The Allegheny River/Samuel Justus Trail is comprised of 32 miles of asphalt surface from Oil City to Emlenton in Venango County.
This trail passes through two former railroad tunnels and within walking distance of Freedom Falls near Emlenton.
5. The Knox & Kane Rail Trail
The Knox & Kane Rail Trail stretches 7.8 miles between Kinzua Bridge State Park and Mount Jewett.
The Kinzua Bridge Skywalk near the northern trailhead is a remnant of what was once the longest and tallest railway bridge in the entire world – the Kinzua Viaduct.
6. Penn’s Creek Path
Penns Creek Path is a 2.7-mile trail crossing over Penns Creek and through the 6,000-acre Penns Creek Wild Area, near Poe Paddy State Park.
A renovated former railroad tunnel is one of the highlights this trail, which doubles as a section of the 328-mile Mid State Trail.
The Lewisburg, Centre and Spruce Creek Railroad left behind the railroad grade and tunnel that the Penns Creek Path rail trail now follows.
7. The Armstrong Trail
The Armstrong Trail is a 35.5-mile rail trail that follows the eastern bank of the Allegheny River through Armstrong County.
A short one-mile spur trail near Kittanning leads you to one of the many Buttermilk Falls in Pennsylvania.
8. The Lower Trail
The Lower Trail runs for almost 17 miles, from near Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County northeastward to near Alexandria in Huntingdon County.
Much of the Lower Trail was part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal.
The trail has a crushed limestone surface, except for a 2 mile asphalt section in the vicinity of Williamsburg.
9. The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail
The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is a 2.5 mile-long (one-way) crushed limestone trail in Cambria County leading to the first railroad tunnel built in the United States!
Constructed as part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, this 901 foot-long tunnel was built between November 1831 and June 1833, progressing 18 inches each day, with crews working simultaneously on both sides eventually meeting in the center.
Today, the trail and tunnel is operated by the National Park Service as a unit of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.
10. The Abandoned PA Turnpike Trail
The Abandoned PA Turnpike Trail is a 13 mile (one-way) asphalt trail that follows a route first cleared for the South Penn Railroad in the late 1800s.
While the South Penn was never completed, the railroad right-of-way was repurposed for construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the 1940s.
In the 1960s, two tunnels and a 12 mile stretch of the Turnpike was bypassed, and that portion of the world’s first superhighway now makes up one of PA’s most interesting bike paths.
Commonly referred to as the Abandoned PA Turnpike, the highlights of the trail are two tunnels, one near each end/trailhead.
Like the other rail trails mentioned in this article, the Abandoned PA Turnpike is essentially flat, and a good light source is necessary to safely navigate the tunnels.
11. The Clarion-Little Toby Rail Trail
The 18 mile-long Clarion-Little Toby Trail is a rail trail that extends from Ridgway in Elk County to Brockway in Jefferson County.
The Clarion-Little Toby Trail follows the banks of the Clarion River and Little Toby Creek on the former railbed of the Ridgway and Clearfield branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
One of the highlights along t trail is the Blue Rock Swinging Bridge, a 40 foot-long suspension stretched hanging 12 feet above Little Toby Creek, on State Game Lands 44 in Elk County.
So there you have it – 10 PA rail trails I’ve enjoyed that I think you might enjoy too!
If you didn’t see your favorite rail trail on this list, feel free to email me your suggestions, as I plan to continually update and expand this list of great PA rail trails!
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