From Corry through Spartansburg to Hydetown in Erie and Crawford Counties
The East Branch Trail will eventually follow the former Chautauqua Line of the Pennsylvania RR, paralleling the East Branch of Oil Ck from the Corry Junction Trail for 17 miles to Hydetown. A 3.1-mile section centered on Spartansburg is open. There may be lingering friction with some trail neighbors. We recommend against trespassing or antagonizing trail neighbors anywhere, but especially so here. This trail is part of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail (page NE-16).
The 3.1-mile section centered on Spartansburg is a two-lane greenway. One side consists of an 8-foot wide lane of asphalt pavement for pedestrians, bicycles, and other human-powered wheeled vehicles. The adjacent 8-foot wide side has a gravel surface for horses and horse-drawn buggies that travel in and around Spartansburg; this parallel trail was developed for the Amish community, a first in Pennsylvania.
East Branch Trail
Location Corry through Spartansburg to Hydetown, Erie and Crawford Counties
Trailheads Spartansburg PA89
Length, Surface 27.4 miles planned (24.2 undeveloped,
3.1 miles paved with gravel side trail for horses and buggies)
Character Uncrowded, wooded, mostly sunny, mostly flat
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles, horses and buggies use unpaved side
Amenities Rest rooms (seasonal), water, food
Driving time from Pittsburgh 2 hours 10 minutes north
The paved section starts at PA89 north of Spartansburg and runs beside Clear Lake for 1.5 miles to Spartansburg. The theme of this segment is water—not just the East Branch which is often on one side of the trail, but even more, Clear Lake and various ponds and wetlands that also lie beside the trail. In spring the chorus of spring peepers dominates the trail experience. The Spartansburg trailhead is beside the lake with fine views of the dam and mill. The trail then goes through woods for 1.6 miles to the trailhead on PA89 south of Spartansburg. At the trailhead, the bridge that once took the road over the railroad was replaced by earth fill, so there is a ramp up from the trail to the trailhead.
Extensions of the ride
The next segment to the north along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is Corry Junction Greenway Trail (page NE-47) near Corry. The route is not yet developed, but it looks like the Amish buggies are using it.
The next segment to the south along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is the Queen City Trail (page NE-55), about 10 or 11 miles away. The route is not yet constructed. The railbed continues south from the East Branch Trail and is passable for some distance on a mountain bike.
The Clear Lake Authority owns or has arrangements for 27.4 miles of the former railroad corridor from Corry to Hydetown. It is seeking funding for design, engineering and construction to extend the trail north to the Corry Junction Trail and south to Hydetown, where it will connect with the planned extension of the Queen City Trail.
Vicinity: Directions begin eastbound on PA77 at its intersection with PA89 just south of Spartansburg. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, head north on I79, take exit 147A (Meadville), follow US322 for 1.6 miles to a fork with Park Av. Continue straight on Park Av when US322 forks to the left. Go 0.9 miles to North St. Turn right/east on PA27/North and follow PA27 for two blocks and turn left/northeast on PA77/State St and go 25.6 miles to the intersection with PA89.
Route 89 trailhead north of Spartansburg (northern) trailhead: From the PA77/PA89 intersection, turn left/north on PA77/PA89. Go 1.2 miles to where PA77 turns right, continue straight on PA89 for another 1.2 miles. The trailhead is on the right. There is no parking here except for one handicap space.
Spartansburg trailhead: From the PA77/PA89 intersection, turn left/north on PA77/PA89 for 1.2 miles. Turn right/east to continue on PA77 and go 0.6 miles to the trail crossing and parking lot. Additional parking is available at the elementary school, a block to the north.
Route 89 trailhead south of Spartansburg (southern) trailhead: From the PA77/PA89 intersection, turn right/south on PA89 and go 0.3 miles to trail parking on the left.
Rest rooms, water: Seasonal chemical toilet at the Spartansburg trailhead.
Bike shop, rentals: None.
Restaurant, groceries: Grocery and restaurants in Spartansburg.
Camping, simple lodging: None.
Swimming, fishing: Clear Lake in Spartansburg alongside the trail offers fishing.
Winter sports: Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Wheelchair access: Trail surface is asphalt and gates are wide.
East Branch Trail
Clear Lake Authority
PO Box 222
Spartansburg, PA 16434
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Spartansburg.
Text version of 7 Jul 2018 based on information from trail group Mar 2018, personal observation while bicycling Route 89 north trailhead to Route 89 south trailhead 4/2018. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 4/2018.