top of page
Pic1.jpg

Trails

About

The Lower Trail runs northeastward for almost 17 miles between Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County and Alexandria in Huntingdon County. It has a 85% rolled crushed limestone surface, except for a 2-mile asphalt section that runs through the Borough of Williamsburg. 

The Lower Trail is part of the Mid State Trail and the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway. It has also been designated a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service and is part of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail.

Screenshot (106).png
7058923_medium_1558379750.jpeg

The Mid State Trail is a long main trail network (323 miles), following the original portion of the Lower Trail. It has many side trails located in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians and Allegheny Plateau of Central Pennsylvania. The Trail is known for the highest knob, the sharpest ridgelines, and some of the most dramatic views awaiting intrepid hikers.

The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway is a 320-mile corridor that follows the historic path of the Main Line Canal System. It intends to serve as a physical connector that improves opportunities for public access, linkage to important destinations, and economic development. 

Greenway-Map.jpeg

History

1800s_PRRTrackLowerTrail.jpg

1979

The rail corridor was abandoned. Over the next 8 years, the rails were sold for scrap and the corridor put up for sale.

1979 trail corridor 1.jpeg

2004

A 5 ½ mile extension was added to the trail.

1800s

Much of the Lower Trail was part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired this property and developed it into the Petersburg Branch of the PRR.

1979 trail corridor.jpeg

1989

Rails to Trails of Central Pennsylvania Inc. purchased the first 11 miles of the Lower Trail, Williamsburg to Alfarata, from the Penn Central Corp.

Present

The trail continues to attract between 70,000 and 100,ooo visitors annually. 

Distinctive Features

When traveling along the trail, either by foot or bike, you can see many remnants of the canal era, including remains of locks, foundations of lock tenders' houses, and the historical Mt. Etna iron plantation area. There are also a number of bridge crossings of the Juniata River and one covered bridge over the tail race of a historic mill stream. 

The trail supports many different plant and animal species. The Audubon Society has identified portions of the Lower Trail as “Important Bird Areas”. A number of Bald Eagles and Osprey have been spotted along the trail. There are also many beautiful and some rare plant species along the trail.

features_Mt. Etna iron plantation area.jpeg
features_nature.JPG

Trailheads

IMG_4313 2.heic

Trailheads are called "Stations" because when the railroad ran, there were station stops there. All trailheads have a parking lot, pavilion with tables, and a restroom. Food, beverages, gas, and pharmacies are also available in Williamsburg, Hollidaysburg, Alexandria, Altoona, and Huntingdon.

trialheads.png

There are a total of  6 trailheads from US Rt.22: Alfarata Station, Mt Etna Station, Cove Dale Station, Williamsburg Station, Ganister Station, and Flowing Spring Station.

Traveling Through The Lower Trail

The Lower Trail is open year-round. In the warmer seasons visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, and bird watching. In the colder seasons visitors can enjoy cross country skiing and non-motorized snowshoeing. 

Shelters and benches can be found in many places along the trail – for rest, enjoying nature, and protection from unexpected weather. Toilet facilities are at trailheads only. There is no drinking water available on the trail and cellphone reception may not be reliable.

features_bridge1.jpg
bottom of page