WEST PENN TRAIL:

BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:       February 23, 2024

Length:                 West Penn Trail; Northern Section; 1.8 miles

                               West Penn Trail; Western Section; 3.8 miles

                               West Penn Trail; Central Section; 1.8 miles

                               West Penn Trail; Eastern Section; 6.8 miles

                               Blairsville Riverfront Trail; 1.7 miles

Difficulty:             West Penn Trail; Northern Section; Easy. Flat stone-dust rail trail.

                               West Penn Trail; Western Section; Easy. Flat stone-dust rail trail. 

                               West Penn Trail; Central Section; Moderate. Hilly, stone-dust rail trail. 

                               West Penn Trail; Eastern Section; Easy. Flat stone-dust rail trail. 

Directions:     

To Start from the Saltsburg Playground parking lot in Saltsburg [Northern Section]; From the junction of Routes 22 & 981 in New Alexandria travel north on Route 981 to the junction of Route 286. Turn right across the Conemaugh River along Washington St (Route 286) into Saltsburg. Turn right along Salt St which merges onto Canal St. When you come to Water St turn right into the parking area.   

To Start from Newport Road in Blairsville [Eastern End]; From the junction of Routes 22 & 217 in Blairsville follow Route 217 north 0.5 miles. Bear left along Newport Rd. Travel approximately 0.7 miles and spot a large turnout parking area long the left side of the road. Here you'll find the trailhead.

The West Penn Trail and Westmoreland Heritage Trail both converge in Saltsburg at the Saltsburg Playground. The Westmoreland Heritage Trail travels Southwest to Slickville. The West Penn Trail; Northern Section travels North from the Saltsburg Playground before ending at a Tree Farm. The West Penn Trail; Western Section travels Southeast from the Saltsburg Playground to Elders Run Tunnel. The West Penn Trail; Centtral Section continues Southeast to the 2nd bridge over the Conemaugh River and is hilly and winding. The final section, West Penn Trail; Eastern Section travels East to Blairsville. Further Southeast in Blairsville is the Blairsville Riverfront Trail.

The West Penn Trail follows the rail bed of the former Western Pennsylvania RR and is an important link in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway , a 320 mile corridor of linked heritage and outdoor recreation sites. In addition to the Canal, there were four railroad grades built in this section of the Conemaugh River Valley: the original 1864 Western Pennsylvania Railroad that was largely built on the old Canal bed; the 1883 line relocation built by the Pennsylvania Railroad that straightened out many of the original curves and made the railroad more efficient to operate; a 1907 rebuilding where more curves were eliminated and the new stone arch bridges built; and the current railroad built in 1948 to elevate the tracks above lake level in the flood control reservoir (Conemaugh Dam). For more information visit; WEST PENN TRAIL .

Starting from the Saltsburg Playground parking lot in Saltsburg [Northern Section]; Both the West Penn Trail & Westmoreland Heritage Trail begin next to the playgrounds entrance and the 0 Mile Marker [West Penn Trail; Northern Section]. The West Penn Trail crosses the playgrounds entrance road. The West Penn Trail; Eastern Section travels Northeast into the woods, while the West Penn Trail; Northern Section and Westmoreland Heritage Trail start out side by side heading West past the Saltsburg Playground. The West Penn Trail; Northern Section, located on your right, then turns North, while the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, located on your left, then turns Southeast.

West Penn Trail; Northern Section:

Starting from the Saltsburg Playground entrance & 0 Mile Marker; The West Penn Trail; Northern Section is also referred to as the Riverfront Trail along this section. Follow the stone-dust trail past the right side of the Map Board (The Westmoreland Heritage Trail travels past the left side of the Map Board) and alongside Canal St through Saltsburg. Cross Market St at 0.3 miles where you'll find restrooms and informational signs as a wide, car free boulevard, takes you through town. Restrooms located here. Scenic town. A crosswalk over Washington St brings you to Saltsburg Canal Park (where you'll find the old Lock 8, now filled in). Pass by the 0.5 Mile Marker (Mileage Markers posted every 0.5 miles) and some picnic tables before leaving town. You enter the woods with the Conemaugh River along your left. At 0.8 miles you'll pass by a bench, behind which looks to be a picturesque waterfall during the wet season. Cross an old RR bridge over Blacklegs Creek at 1.5 miles. Trail opens up as you pass through a Tree Farm before coming to the current end of the trail after 1.8 miles next to a sign. 

West Penn Trail; Western Section:

Starting from the Saltsburg Playground entrance; Travel Northeast between a fence and woods and you'll pass by a gate and Map Board before heading into the woods. The stone-dust West Penn Trail; Eastern Section travels above the Conemaugh River along your right and a steep ridge along your left. You can spot an old RR bed up on your left paralleling the trail. Mileage Markers posted every 0.5 miles. I believe the trail follows the filled in Main Line Canal. Informational signs located here. I only checked out a short section of this trail. The isolated trail follows the river through deep woods, turning South at 1.2 miles. After 2.8 miles the trail turns East and after 3.8 miles the trail turns away from the river.

West Penn Trail; Central Section:

This section has been labeled as moderate as it is hilly. At 4 miles you travel through the Elders Run Tunnel, below an active RR Line. Cross Tunnelton Road at 4.9 miles. Parking area. The trail then zig zags South, crossing Auen Rd, traveling around the Conemaugh Dam Visitor Center and crossing a road to the parking lot at 6.5 miles. See; CONEMAUGH LAKE RECREATION AREA . The trail then travels South, passing by the Conemaugh Lake Recreation Area parking lot. Restrooms. You then come to the Tunnelview Historic Site after 7 miles. Parking lot. This section looks very interesting, with the trail and a RR bridge all crossing above you, as well as an old RR tunnel. You'll cross over the Conemaugh River and after some more zig zagging you'll come back to a bridge over the river at 5.6 miles.

West Penn Trail; Eastern Section:

This section is labeled as easy. Cross the river and continue East, crossing the Conemaugh River 5 more times before ending after 12.4 miles at Newport Road parking area in Blairsville.

Blairsville Riverfront Trail:

The Blairsville Riverfront Trail is located Southeast in Blairsville. I haven't checked out this trail. It travels from Blairsville Veterans Memorial Park South along the Conemaugh River, turning East to Wyotech Park where it ends after 1.7 miles

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