The Sheepskin Trail is a Fayette County, Pennsylvania “rail trail” project that will travel approximately 34 miles from Point Marion Borough to Dunbar Township. For now (2022) there are only three separate sections totaling 5.2 miles. A section at each end of the trail and an other in the middle around Uniontown: WV/PA State Line to Point Marion—1.6 miles, South Union Township Section—1.5 miles, Dunbar to M89.7 on Gap Trail—2.1 miles.
There is a major push by Fayette Country to connect these three segments, to create a continuous trail from Conellesville on the Gap Trail (Future volume SE) through Morgantown to Fayetteville WV.
Location WV/PA state line near Point Marion to MP89.7 on Gap trail near Connellsville
Trailheads Point Marion, South Union, Dunbar, Connellsville
Length, Surface total <<34 miles planned>>, 5.2 miles crushed limestone
Character uncrowded, wooded, shady
Usage restrictions No horses, No Snowmobiles
Amenities Rest rooms, water, fishing
Driving time from Pittsburgh 50 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes south
WV/PA State Line to Point Marion Section—1.6 miles
The Point Marion Trail (AKA Mon River Trail North ) is 1.6 miles long and connects directly to the Casper Grafton trail at the state line. It is accessible in Point Marion and in Star City.
The trail is mostly in the woods. About half the time the Monongahela River is visible through the trees. The trail does not have any mile markers. For this write-up we will assume mile zero is at the state line, and describe the trail south to north.
Mile 0 is marked by a welcome sign. A short distance later the Point Marion Lock and Dam (mile 0.4) as on the left. This is a favorite spot for fisher folk. As the trail enters town there is an industrial building with a big chimney (mile 1.1).
The Point Marion Ballfield is at mile 1.2, and the end of the completed trail is at Penn St in the middle of Point Marion (mile 1.6).
Because of it short length and accessibility the write-up for this trail is part of the Mon River/Casper Grafton Trail (See page SW-29).
South Union Township Section—1.5 miles
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Dunbar to MP89.7 on Gap Section—2.1 miles
In Dunbar there is a reconstructed coke oven, and a small historical museum. From Dunbar the trail follows Dunbar Creek for <<xx.x>>miles through woods, crossing Dunbar Creek and several railroad tracks. At mile <<xx.x>> there is a sewer plant and the landscape open ups on the former BoWest Railroad yard, which has been converted into a rail car storage yard for <<x.x>> miles, with the limestone trail on the east side. After leaving the storage yard the trail is 40 feet above the valley in woods.
Local History, Attractions
Along side the trail between Dunbar and the Youghiogheny River was a railroad yard known as the Bowest Siding. Three railroads and a trolley line converged in this area. A two rail lines are all that is left of the many buildings and railroad stuff of this very active yard. The rail car storage yard was built in the site in 2006.
The Fayette Central Railroad offered tourist train rides between Dunbar and Uniontown up until 2012. The ride featured a spectacular view of the Youghiogheny River from a bridge. https://archive.triblive.com/news/fayette-central-railroad-approaches-end-of-6-year-road/ (2022)
The Dunbar Historical Society is constructed a beehive coke oven in the park just across the road from the current (2022) end of the trail. They used the original H.C. Frick blueprints. During the heyday of coke ovens there were over 34,000 of these ovens on the hillsides through out the local valleys. If you look really close, one can see a dilapidated row of ovens on the Great Allegheny Passage about 2 miles upstream/south of the entrance to the Sheepskin trail. An Eagle Scout Project has erected a sign on the trail. In the fall of 2008, the Dunbar coke oven was nothing but a collection of bricks that had been salvaged from various sites around the count, It is now built..
The Dunbar Historical Society also runs a museum/education center which will house a vast array of information about the rich industrial heritage of the Dunbar area. Located in the historic former U.S. Post Office Building, it is just to the left of the trail as it crosses Bridge Street. Check their web site for hours of operations and status of the coke oven project. http://www.dunbarhistoricalsociety.com/ (2022)
Extensions of the Ride
Point Marion - The south end of the trail connects seamlessly with the 30 mile Mon River Trail.
Dunbar - To the east the trail connects seamlessly with the 149 mile Greta Allegheny Passage Trail (GAP) which runs from Washington DC to Pittsburgh PA
This trail follows the route of the F&M&P railroad and will continue from Dunbar to the PA state line at Point Marion where it will connect with the Mon River Trail. This route passes through the towns of Mt Braddock, Uniontown, Brownfield, Oliphant, Fairchance, Smithfield, Outcrop, Gans, Lake Lynn, and Nilan. From Dunbar to the Fairchance Industrial Park the trail may become rail-with-trail and share the right of way with a short line serving the industrial park. The Sheepskin Trail will also connect with the proposed Browns Run trail (page WS-185, which will run from Smithfield for about 10 miles via Shoaf to Ronco on the Monongahela River.
Vicinity for Point Marion section: End of PA88 bridge in Point Marion. There are three ways to get here from Pittsburgh. South on PA51 or I43 to US119, then south on US119 to the bridge, or south on I79 and then back-roads to PA88 to the bridge. All three route are within 5 to 10 minutes of each other, depending on traffic and construction.
Penn and Railroad St: From the end of the bridge turn north on Main St and go one block to just pass the post office. Turn right/east and go two blocks to the parking area on the right just before the trail across from a small parklet.
Point Marion Ballfield: From the end of the bridge turn south on Main St. Go 0.4 miles to the ballfield. There is parking for a few cars across fro the restroom building, and more spaces as you enter the park, just down hill fro the playground equipment. Note: if the Monongahela River is in flood stage, the park may be flooded. The trail is above the flood plain so it should be okay.
See also Star City and Van Voorhis trailhead : Directions in the Mon River and Gasper Caperton trail writeup (page WS-31)
Vicinity for Uniontown section << more to come>>
Vicinity for Dunbar: Directions begin at intersection of route 119, 201 and 701 in Connellsville.
Dunbar Trailhead: Go south on US 119 from the intersection with 711. Go 3.1 miles and turn left/south at the light onto Dunbar Road next to Butchko Bros salvage yard. Continue 0.5 miles down the hill to Dunbar. At the Y with 1st Street, take the left fork to stay on Dunbar Road. Go two blocks and turn left onto Bridge Street. Go one block and cross the creek. The trail entrance will be on your left, and the Coke Oven Park will be on your right. Park here.
Connellsville trailhead: The start of the Sheepskin trail at the Youghiogheny River is not accessible via car and you will have to use the Connellsville trailhead of the Great Allegheny Passage. From the intersection head east on 711, go six blocks and at the traffic light turn left (north) onto Third Street. About a block and half from the turn there is a gravel parking lot on the right. After parking, cross Third Street. The GAP trail is separated from the road by concrete islands. Turn left/south) away from the river towards town and travel the GAP trail south for about 2.0 miles. Immediately after crossing the second bridge over Wheeler Bottom, turn right onto the Sheepskin trail.
Wheeler Bottom trailhead: There is access to the Great Allegheny Trail at Wheeler Bottom and the start of the Sheepskin Trail is only 0.3 miles north from parking. However this is not an official trailhead, and is difficult to find. We suggest you use one of the other trailheads.
Rest rooms, water: Rest rooms in Star City, Point Marion Ballfield park
Bike shop, rentals: In Morgantown
Restaurant, groceries: In Star City, Point Marion.
Camping, simple lodging: Near the trailhead in Star City..
Swimming, fishing: [[[find]]]
Winter sports: [[[find]]]
Wheelchair access: Good.
National Road Heritage Corridor
65 West Main Street, Suite 103
Uniontown, PA 15401
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Morgantown North, Morgantown South, Riversville
Map Published by Mon River Trail Conservancy called Rail Trails of North Central WV
Fayette County website has detail trail progress notes.
Text version of 22 May2022 based on personal observation while bicycling Point Marion to Star City 5/2022, South Union Township Section 6/2018, Gap trail MP89.7 to Dunbar (MP2.1) 5/2022. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 6/2018.