The Allegheny River Trail – A Spectacular Journey

allegheny river trail photo

Photo by Mike Procario

The Allegheny River Trail is the perfect setting for a picture perfect, not too strenuous bike ride. This 32 mile trail offers hikers and bikers an idyllic setting to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The trail is follows the path of the old, long since defunct, Allegheny Valley Railroad. It is paved with smooth ashphalt so is ideal for biking as well as hiking. The surface is smooth and most of the path is about 10 feet wide, so a perfect surface for a bike ride. The surrounding scenery is stunning and varied. It is well worth making the trip on the Allegheny River Trail.

One of the first landmarks that you will reach is the Belmar Bridge, which is just about 5 miles from the start of the trail. This very distinctive red colored bridge was built in 1907.

One of the most interesting features of the Allegheny River Trail is the Rockland Tunnel. This is not for you if you have a fear of the dark as it is unlit! Remember to bring your flashlight so that you can navigate through the 2,868 long tunnel.

You know when you are getting close to the tunnel as you feel a drop in temperature. If bats are not your thing the Rockland Tunnel is best avoided as many of these feared creatures have made it their home! However, if you can put any fears aside it is an interesting experience to ride through the Tunnel.

Once you have emerged from the Tunnel a short ride away is a beautiful waterfall. The whimsically named Freedom Falls is 50 feet wide and more than 20 feet tall. How dramatic they are will depend upon when you see them. If you are lucky enough to see them after a heavy rains they are a spectacular sight. The water at the bottom of the Falls is a great place to go swimming. You may even see someone jumping off the top of the Falls into the pool below. It really is an idyllic spot to spend some time.

The Allegheny River Trail has an exceptionally unusual feature – petroglyphs. It is rare to see these Native American carvings anywhere in the country, but here on the River Trail you can see the petroglyph carvings on a sandstone bolder on the river bank about 8 miles into the Trail. It is thought that they could date back as far as 1200. The carvings show animals and people, and are well worth spending some time looking at if you are on the Allegheny River Trail.

When we are enjoying excellent trails like this we should always remember that such trails are only made possible when people recognize the importance of sustaining natural places of beauty. The late Jim Holden was a university professor who was passionate about conserving places of natural beauty and making them accessible to all. He and David Howes formed the Allegheny Valley Trails Association. Their first trail was the Allegheny River Trail. We all have them to be thankful to for this amazingly beautiful trail.