Allegheny Highlands Trail, State Line to Confluence
From the PA/MD state line through Big Savage Tunnel and along Flaugherty Run to Meyersdale in Somerset County
The trail follows the route of the Western Maryland RR for 11 miles from the state line to Confluence. There is no road access at the state line. The access to the southern end of this trail is at Frostburg with a 5 mile climb to the MD/PA state line. where it levels off a bit as it approaches the major feature of this section of the trail, the Big Savage Tunnel. Emerging from the woods at Deal, the trail descends along Flaugherty Run to Confluence.
Allegheny Highlands Trail, State Line to Confluence
Location Summerset County,PA
Trailheads Confluence, Fort Hill, Markleton, Rookwood, Garrett,Meyersdale, Deal
Length, Surface <<XX>> miles, packed crushed stone
Character Uncrowded, wooded, mixed sun and shade
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles; no snowmobiles
Amenities Rest rooms, food, lodging
Driving time from Pittsburgh 2 hours southeast
The state line is marked by big stones alongside the trail, and paving stones in the trail. The paving stones follow the Mason Dixon line (state line) as surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute involving Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in Colonial America. They treked and acoss the applalation Mountains between 1763 and 1767. A historical marker provides some history of their expostion.
After the state line, the hillside to the west shifts to forest and the views to the east. The trail bends to the left and the signature feature of this trail comes into view. The spectacular kilometer-long Big Savage Tunnel takes the trail under the mountain and saves 250 feet of climb. In 1999 this tunnel was partially collapsed and in dangerous condition; its reconstruction has taken years of dedicated effort by trail developers. Now it is freshly re-lined, well-surfaced, and even lighted. It’s worth a day trip from either Frostburg or Deal just to visit the tunnel. Note, though, that the tunnel is closed in the winter to protect it from weather damage. If you’re planning a trip in the cooler months, check to see whether the tunnel is open. If it’s closed, there’s really no good detour; the only alternatives are via MD546 and US40 or via PA160 to Barrelville; both involve hills and traffic, and we don’t recommend either.
West of the tunnel, the trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. The continental divide was actually in the cut east of where the culvert that crosses under Mackenzie Hollow Rd. When the road bridge was removed and filled in the divide moved to the culvert. Rain that falls on the tunnel side of this culvert flows into Laurel Run, then to the Potomac and the Atlantic Ocean. Rain that falls on the Mackenzie Hollow side of this cut flows into Flaugherty Creek, then to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
At Mackenzie Hollow Rd the trail starts descending gradually toward Meyersdale. The remote surroundings of the eastern flank of Big Savage Mountain give way to rural Pnnsylavnia. The trail passes through several small villages and crosses Faugherty Creek several times. Six miles from Mackenzie Hollow Rd the trail crosses high above the creek, the road, and the active railroad line on the Keystone Trestle. This curved bridge was constructed to preserve the graceful lines of the original railroad bridge, which was sacrificed a few years ago in order to straighten a nasty curve on the road below.
Soon after the Keystone Trestle, the trail emerges at Scratch Hill Rd. Trail developers have moved a historic iron Bollman bridge, originally manufactured for the railroad in 1871, from a few miles away to carry the trail across the road. Another quick run through the woods brings the trail to Meyersdale and the visitor center in the restored train station.
<< all mileages here on ae old milagee. Please fix>>
This is the restored Western Maryland station; there’s another station on the active railroad a few blocks away. From this station, the trail runs 1.6 miles through a cut and along the edge of a hill. Then it emerges to cross the Casselman River valley on the Salisbury Viaduct. This wonderful 1900-foot structure soars as much as 100 feet above the wide valley, providing great views in both directions.
You’ll be able to see several windmills of western Pennsylvania’s first “wind farm”. Green Mountain Energy installed of eight modern windmills to generate electrical power. You can see these from the trail – we think the best view is from the Salisbury Viaduct. As the wind farm business grows, expect other windmills to join these pioneers.
At the other end of the viaduct (mile 13.4), the trail is finished in packed crushed limestone. Here the trail runs through farmland for about two miles. Watch for peacocks in the farmyard near the trail. After another small cut, the trail arrives at Garrett. SR2037). Just past the parking lot the trail crosses under the road and shortly passes the waterworks (mile 16.3).
From here to Rockwood, little intrudes on the woods and river. The trail is generally 20-40 feet above the Casselman River, affording views of the moderate rapids and, in season, of canoeists and kayakers. During early spring snowmelt, waterfalls and creeks cascade over the adjacent cliffs and out of the hollows. At mile 18.5, a fine rock cliff forms the side of the trail. Across the river, five rectangular openings mark the location of an old mine. The gob heap that appears at mile 22.8 signals that you’re approaching Rockwood.
The trail drops from the railroad grade to cross the road (Bridge St) at Rockwood (mile 23.3). A large parking lot provides the most convenient access from the PA Turnpike. Past the Rockwood parking lot, the trail passes the remnants of a mining complex and coal tipple (mile 23.7). It remains close to the river, with periodic views of the river and the canoeists. At mile 24.2 a bench provides a perch from which to watch the cascade leaping off the cliff, and at mile 24.8 another stream emerges in a wooden trough. The trail continues in woods to mile 26.5, where the town of Casselman comes into view across the river. Just north of milepost 27 (which is out of place, at mile 27.14), a waterfall gurgles gently down the cliff face.
At mile 29.4 the trail drops to the road crossing (SR3011) at Markleton, then climbs to the the trail. The parking area is a little farther downhill, near the river. Another 1.7 miles brings you to the low bridge across the Casselman River at the Pinkerton Horn (mile 31.1). Here is the outstanding feature of this trail segment: the 850-foot Pinkerton Tunnel, dated 1911, and the bridges at the ends of the tunnel. Part of the tunnel ceiling has fallen and extensive, expensive repairs will be needed before the trail can pass through. For now, the trail crosses the low bridge, goes 1.5 miles around Pinkerton Horn on an older railroad grade, and rejoins the main route at the other end of the tunnel, just before the high bridge. The river falls about 40’ as it goes around Pinkerton Horn, which accounts for both the height difference of the bridges and the river’s popularity with whitewater paddlers. This railbed has been used to bypass a collapsing tunnel before: it was originally graded in 1879 to bypass a collapse of the other tunnel through this ridge—the one now used by the active B&O Railroad. The Pinkerton bypass is unlike the remainder of the trail. The railbed is on a narrow shelf, so the trail feels more intimate as it winds through the trees. Be careful on this segment: The trail is 10’ wide, but the surface is rougher, there are no shoulders, and a drainage channel runs at the edge of the trail. For now, the trail stops at the far end of the high bridge (mile 32.7).
After Pinkerton Horn, the trail continues to the road crossing at Ft Hill. The first 4.7 miles after Ft Hill go through a pleasant wooded area with occasional views of streams and waterfalls. The open area a mile south of Ft Hill is an old tornado track. The land adjacent to the trail is private property, so please remain on the trail. When the trail crosses the Casselman River again (for the fourth time since Meyersdale) the trail leaves the woods and enters a cut through a residential area of Harnedsville. If you want to go into Harnedsville, leave the trail at this road crossing after the bridge, because the trail goes under PA523 in a new box culvert with no road access.
Salisbury Viaduct soars over the Casselman valley
The remaining 3.1 miles into Confluence are more developed. The trail parallels PA 523 for a few blocks and swings away across a cut to make its fifth and final crossing of the Casselman River. After this river crossing, the trail descends to PA281, passes the Confluence trailhead, and crosses the Youghiogheny River to join the Yough River Trail South. (Page SE17)
Vicinity: Directions for the soutern trailheads begin at the Somerset Exit on the Turnpike (I76) east of Pittsburgh.
StateLine Trailhead: There is no road access at the state line see The Mountatain Mayland writeto access the trail at Frostburg or New Hope Rd
Deal Trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, follow signs << more directions Deal >>
Meyersdale trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, continue straight onto N Pleasne Ave. Go 0.7 miles and turn left/east on E Main St (US31). Go 0.3 miles and take the right diagonal street (Berlin Plank Rd). Go 2.0 mles and turn right/south on US219 south. Go 9.8 miles and take the Meyersdale Garrett exit. At the end of the exit ramp turn left/southeast towrads Meyersdale. Go 2.7 miles and turn left/northeast on Main St and climb the hill. Go 0.5 miles, just on the edge of town, turn left/west into the parking lot just before the restored railroad station
Garrett trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on US219 about 15 miles to Garrett. Turn right on PA653. Go 0.2 miles to Berlin St and turn left. Go 0.1 miles on Berlin St and cross the bridge. If you’re riding toward Rockwood, turn right just after crossing the bridge and follow the dirt road 0.3 miles to trailhead parking. If you’re riding toward Meyersdale, turn left about 100’ past the bridge and go 200’ to the parking area. Alternate route: A shortcut to Garrett uses SR2031 to avoid following US219 all the way east to the town of Berlin and back west. The intersection of SR2031 with PA653 is west of Garrett, so turn left from SR2031 onto PA653, then right on Berlin.
Vicinity: Directions for the northern trailheads begin at the Donegal Exit on the Turnpike (I76) east of Pittsburgh.
FortHill trailhead: From the Donegal Turnpike exit, follow signs << more directions fort hill >>
Confluence trailhead: From the
Rest rooms, water: SST at the Savage Tunnel ovrlook, Deal, Rockwood. Train station at Meyersdale. porta-pottys at Markleton, Fort Hill
Bike shop, rentals: None.
Restaurant, groceries: In Meyersdale and Confluence.
Camping, simple lodging: In Meyersdale and Confluence.
Swimming, fishing: None.
Winter sports: No snowmobiles. Cross-country skiing is good.
Wheelchair access: okay.
Somerset County Rails to Trails Association
PO Box 412
Somerset PA 15501
Trail care hotline (814) 445-1573
Maps, guides, other references
Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bike Trip between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC. Shaw-Weil Associates, 2002.
USGS Topographic Maps: Cumberland MD-PA, Frostburg MD, Wittenburg, Meyersdale.
Text version July 30, 2021 based on personal observation while bicycling Confluence to<< State Line 7(MP XX.X)>> 7/2021 Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 7/2021.