City of Blairsville, Indiana County
This short trail in the city of Blairsville is an in-town amenity. The trail follows the Conemaugh River from the intersection of S Water St and W Brown St to the Wyotech Park. Normally we would not include a short segment like this, but there are plans to connect it to the Hoodlebug Extension Trail (page NE-209) and to the West Penn Trail (page NE-195). In addition the trail is part of the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor and one of the trails in the Trans Allegheny Trails System (page NE-183).
Blairsville is tucked into a loop of the Conemaugh River in the upper reaches of Conemaugh Lake, a Corps of Engineers flood control project. When the lake is being used to hold back flood waters and prevent downstream towns from flooding, this trail may be under water. The rest of the year it offers a pleasant riverside excursion.
Blairsville Riverfront Trail
Location Blairsville, Indiana County
Length, Surface 1.7 miles chip seal
Character Uncrowded, shady, wooded, flat with one 300-foot 8% grade
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles, no horses
Amenities In town
Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour east
There are mileposts every tenth of a mile. They are numbered in both directions with zero starting at each end and finishing at 1.7. We describe the trail starting at the west end.
The trail itself is 10 feet wide, surfaced in chip seal to resist flooding. For the most part, the trail runs in a park-like setting with plenty of shade trees and a grassy berm.
The trail starts at a small parking area a block south of Market St. It immediately drops 25 feet to river level at an 8% grade for 300 feet. From the bottom of this hill, the trail winds along the flood plain and around a ball field (MP0.5) for a mile. At mile MP1.2, under the SR217 bridge, note the red waterfall across the river. It is coming from a coal seam that supplied a major glass factory, that once sat in the floodplain on the left of the trail. Coal for the glass furnaces crossed the river via an aerial tramway. From here the trail straightens out a bit before it ends at the parking area near the abutments and piers for the former Cokeville Bridge in Wyotech Park. This bridge/road was the main road into and out of town until the new bridge on Walnut St was built. This parking area also serves as a canoe/kayak launch site.
At normal summer water level in the reservoir, the stream is well contained in its banks and the trail is dry. However, during periods of heavy rain the Conemaugh Lake holds back water to reduce flooding downstream, releasing the water after the high-water levels have fallen on the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny Rivers. During these periods, the lake level may rise by as much as 75 feet—which would put the entire trail under water. Fortunately, this does not happen very often. Normal lake level is 900–905 feet above sea level. The trail elevation here is about 940 feet. At least once a year the water reaches this elevation, covering portions of the trail. The high water tends to be in late winter and early spring, but the lake level can come up at any time after heavy widespread rain. If planning to visit the trail during or soon after a rainy period or during spring thaw, check on the lake status. For a daily report and 3-day forecast of lake levels look online at:
Extensions of the ride
The next segment to the west along the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor is the West Penn Trail (page NE-195). To reach it by road, at the western trailhead turn right/west on Brown St. Go 3 blocks to Walnut St and turn left/north. Go 0.5 miles and turn left/west on W Burell St/PA217. Follow PA217 for 0.9 miles as it passes under US22/US119. At the “Y” with Newport Rd, turn left/west on Newport Rd. Go 0.7 miles to the West Penn trailhead.
The next segment to the east along the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor is the Hoodlebug Trail Extension (page NE-209). The southernmost segment of the Hoodlebug is near the intersection of US119 north and US22 on the north side of US22. There are two routes to reach there by road from Wyotech Park. Both head north from the park. The longer route uses Lear Rd to pass under the US22 highway. The shorter route uses Indiana Ext to cross the five, high speed lanes of US22 at grade with no signal. Both routes end up on Cornell Rd which tees into US119 with the Hoodlebug Trail behind the jersey barrier.
At present, the trail organization has detailed plans and some construction money to build a pedestrian bridge across the four-lane divided highway (US22) and then connect off-road to the Hoodlebug Trail (page NE-209) trail.
A recent (2018) safety audit identified possible safety improvements between Blairsville and Newport Rd along PA217.
Vicinity: Directions begin headed West on US22 at the intersection with PA981 in New Alexandria.
S Water St (northwestern) trailhead: MP0.0 From US22 and PA981 go 7.9 miles. Take the Blairsville PA217 exit. Go straight on Walnut St. Go 0.6 miles and turn right/west on W Brown St. Continue to the end, there is a parking lot for about 3 cars.
Wyotech Park (southeastern) trailhead: MP1.7 From US22 and PA981 go 7.9 miles. Take the Blairsville PA217 exit. Go straight on Walnut St. Go 0.9 miles and turn left/southeast/west on Johnson Av. Go 0.2 miles and just before a big parking lot on the right, turn right/southwest on Wilkinson Alley. Go 100 feet and turn left/southeast, enter the gate in the fence onto an unnamed park road. Follow the fence for about 0.3 miles and park at the end of the road.
Rest rooms, water: Chemical toilets by the baseball fields in the park.
Bike shop, rentals: None.
Restaurant, groceries: in Blairsville.
Camping, simple lodging: None.
Swimming, fishing: in Conemaugh River, Canoe/Kayak launch in Wyotech Park.
Winter sports: None.
Wheelchair access: Access in the park okay. Water St trailhead has a 300-foot long hill at 8% grade (maximum ADA grade).
Indiana County Parks & Trails
1128 Blue Spruce Rd
Indiana, PA 15701
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Blairsville.
Text version of 10 Aug 2018. Bicycled entire trail 7/2018. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 7/2018.