The entire 17-mile West Penn Trail network extends from just down river of Saltsburg along the Kiski River, all the way to the Conemaugh River at Newport Road in Blairsville.
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 early 1900s. This section also passes over four spectacular stone arch bridges built in 1907 which offer beautiful views of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal which operated in the mid-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 hydropower plant, past two old railroad tunnel entrances from the 1800’s, and crosses the 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, visitors center, nature trail, and playground.
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 CVC 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 along the old canal path to Saltsburg River & Trail, down Point Street to Rivers Edge Park, over to the Route 286 bridge, proceeding under the 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. A trail bridge over Blacklegs Creek was dedicated in honor of CVC Trail Engineer, Jack Maguire. The trail extends 1-mile down river beyond the Maguire Bridge.
Efforts are underway to eventually link the West Penn with the Hoodlebug and Ghost Town trails to the east.
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy also continues to work with our partners at the Roaring Run Watershed Association to link to the Roaring Run Trail and Recreation Area north of Saltsburg near Apollo.