West Penn Trail

The West Penn Trail offers miles of scenic trail to explore by foot or bicycle.

Explore West Penn Trail

This beautiful multi-use trail, which is entirely volunteer maintained, utilizes old sections of the Pennsylvania Railroad to provide users with a unique 17-mile route from near Blairsville to Historic Saltsburg. Both tranquil and rich with history, the trail passes through backwoods and over four spectacular stone-arch bridges (built in 1907) revealing views of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal, which operated in here mid-1800’s.

Did you know?

The West Penn Trail is recognized as a National Recreation Trail, is part of the TransAllegheny Trail System, and is an important link on the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.

Trail Sections

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, are fit for those seeking a more challenging outing, while the rail-trail sections offer nearly flat surface for a more relaxing experience.

This section extends from Newport Road (approximately 2 miles outside of downtown Blairsville), across the Q-Span Pedestrian Bridge and, ultimately, to the Bow Ridge Tunnel and Switchback Sections of West Penn Trail. You will follow a portion of the old Pennsylvania Railroad line that operated along the corridor in the early 1900’s. This section passes over four stone arch bridges, which offer unique views of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, dating back to the mid-1800’s.

All trail users are advised that the Conemaugh River Lake Section is subject to periodic flooding. Water levels can rise quickly. Please, always use caution when using the trail.

The Bow Ridge Switchback is located at the entrance of an old railroad tunnel on the west end of the Conemaugh River Lake Section. The ascent up Bow Ridge may prove to be challenging. From the top of the ridge, the trail leads to a hydropower plant and continues past two closed tunnel entrances. The tunnel dates back to the 1800’s. The trail then crosses the bridge and proceeds downhill to Tunnelton Main Line Canal Park. Conemaugh River Lake Recreation Area is just up the hill and has ample parking. Enjoy picnic areas, a visitor center, nature trail, and playground.

Please note that all users of Bow Ridge must be able to negotiate a flight of stairs to access the beginning to the switchback. This steep grade is unsuitable for anyone riding a motorized or non-motorized devise while ascending or descending.

Dedicated in the Spring of 2007, this trail link between the Conemaugh River Lake and Saltsburg Sections was named in honor of former CVC President Dick Mayer. The grade along this section can be challenging, but the trail is not a single track so it’s easier to navigate than a typical mountain bike trail.

This portion of West Penn Trail spans from the Dick Mayer Section into Historic Saltsburg. This mostly flat section of trail passes through beautiful backwoods, revealing visible remnants of the canal and railroad as hugs the Conemaugh River.

From the Saltsburg Trailhead, the trail extends through Historic Saltsburg, along the path of the canal. The trail continues through Canal Park and crosses Market Street, Point Street, and finally Washington to connect to the Kiski Section Trailhead (across from River Hall/SVFD). An alternate route, allowing for fast and safe passage under the Route 286 bridge is accessible by turning left onto Point Street at Saltsburg Kayak & Canoe Outfitters. From there, the trail proceeds past the River’s Edge Stage and under the bridge to the Kiski Section.

After passing under the Route 286 bridge, the trail proceeds downriver, along the Kiskiminetas. A trail bridge built over Blackleggs Creek was dedicated in honor of CVC Trail Engineer, Jack Maguire. The trail currently ends 1-mile beyond the bridge. Future plans for development will extend West Penn Trail into Avonmore.

Pollinator Paradise

Pollinator Paradise along the West Penn Trail is a project dedicated to supporting native pollinators using native plants. Our mission is to cultivate pollinator friendly habitats and raise awareness of their connection and importance to our local environment. Contact the Pollinator Paradise team directly at pollinatorparadiseWPT@gmail.com.

a garden sign

The West Penn Trail Pollinator Paradise is a project with deep roots. We chose an area beside the West Penn Trail at the Westinghouse trailhead for easy access, and rehabilitated it from being an overgrown electrical right-of-way. Beside both the river and an open trail, the site is near flyways bees and butterflies will naturally explore. This is an ideal site to enrich with plants that serve pollinators, and that will be attractive to visitors cycling on the trail or just coming to see the garden. One goal is that some of the native plants we establish here will spread to other favorable sites along the trail and more broadly into the game lands nearby, re-colonizing our protected areas with beneficial species.

We maintain a variety of plants to provide specific food sources for bees and butterflies, choosing mostly native plants to match what our local insects need. Some plants produce pollen for bees to bring back to their nests for their larvae. Some plants are food for caterpillars, such as the milkweeds for monarch butterflies. Some plants are nectar sources for both adult bees, butterflies and humming birds. Increasing the variety of insects at the site will also help feed birds, which is an added benefit, even if we hope the insects will prosper in their own right. Even a small patch of enrichment can represent an extensive improvement in resources for the habitat.

We have chosen plants that span a broad range of ecological types, and that provide resources from spring to autumn. Because our native plants are not from a horticultural breeding program, they may not be all the same height or color, as people may expect in a formal garden. Native plants usually have a more narrow bloom time than horticultural varieties, meaning you may not see them blooming if you are not there at just the right time. Plus, providing plants that are supposed to be food for caterpillars means that we want some of the plants to get eaten up, which means they may look bad when they are doing exactly the job we want them to do.

In any garden, some plants need help to thrive, others perform well, and still others need to be contained so they do not take over. This is true with native plantings also. Native wildflower gardens still require care and maintenance, contrary to popular opinion. And weeding a garden of native plants is difficult because sometimes it is hard to tell which plant you want to keep and which you are trying to remove! If you visit our site and it looks like it needs some help, there can be two reasons for this. The plants themselves are a little unruly, and that is just the way they are. Or, yes, sometimes we do need a little help to keep the garden moving in the right direction. If you would like to help, please contact us for more information: pollinatorparadisewpt@gmail.com


What’s Next for West Penn Trail?

CVC continues to work with our partners at the Roaring Run Watershed Association to link the West Penn Trail to the Roaring Run Trail and Recreation Area. This project will extend the trail through Avonmore, then north to Apollo. To our east, efforts are underway that will eventually connect the West Penn Trail with the Hoodlebug and Ghost Town Trails.

View our Sponsors.
View our Partners in Recreation.

Discover the Heritage Tour 

As you walk or ride along the West Penn Trail, look for our Heritage Tour Markers. There are over 50 sign markers designed to share the rich history and cultural treasures along the trail. Look for facts and photos about Historic Saltsburg, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal

West Penn Trail Council

Get your hands dirty! To keep expenses at a minimum, the West Penn Trail Council oversees the operation and maintenance of the trail. They help CVC raise funds to cover the costs of routine trail maintenance and coordinate volunteers. If you enjoy the trail, please consider joining CVC, volunteering, or giving the gift of a small, monthly donation. Our annual maintenance goal is $5,000.

Trailheads & Parking

Enjoy any section of the trail, thanks to conveniently located trailheads and parking areas.

This trailhead is marked by a blue West Penn Trail sign. A small wooden fence and a line of mailboxes are to the left of the entrance. Please use caution and proceed slowly to the parking area, which is located at the end of a narrow access road.

Driving Directions

When accessing the Livermore Trailhead, please use caution when approaching the active railroad crossing on Livermore Road. Parking is roadside.

Driving Directions

The Conemaugh National Recreation Area has ample parking, as well as restrooms, a playground, and picnic areas. There is access to the Dick Mayer and Bow Ridge Sections.

Driving Directions

This parking area is an easily accessible dirt lot. It allows access to the Dick Mayer Section of the trail.

Driving Directions

This parking area is an easily accessible dirt lot. It allows access to the Dick Mayer Section of the trail.

Driving Directions

There is ample parking at the Saltsburg Playground, as well as easy access to the trail from street parking throughout Saltsburg. Take a ride on the Saltsburg or Kiski Sections from here, and enjoy access to our sister trail, The Westmoreland Heritage Trail.

Driving Directions

The Kiski Trailhead lot is located directly across the street from the SVFD River Hall.

 Driving Directions

Access driving directions to each location by clicking on our Trailheads and Parking descriptions.

Hours of Operation

West Penn Trail is open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Plan your ride or walk to allow enough time to reach your vehicle before dusk, as many parking areas are not lit and/or may close at dusk.


To accommodate those with physical impairments, CVC and the West Penn Trail permits the use electric powered bikes and trikes. Please review our policyVehicles powered by gasoline are strictly prohibited.


Pennsylvania law requires that all children under 12, operating vehicles of any kind, must wear a helmet. CVC and West Penn Trail Council strongly encourage all trail visitors using motorized and non-motorized devises to wear a helmet.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

A Race Like No Other

Mark your calendars! The next West Penn Trail Triathlon is set for October 12, 2024. In this adventure race, you’ll kayak, bike, and run your way over river and trail in beautiful, Historic Saltsburg. Join solo or bring your team of 2 to 3! To see the results of the 2022 Triathlon, click here.

The 2023 Stony-Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Sojourn, June 1-4, 2023, was a great success, with a flotilla of 65 boats! We especially thank Spangler Subaru’s as our Share the Love Partner, 2022-2024. Put the next Sojourn on your calendar: June 6-9, 2024!