This page brought to you by the book FreeWheeling Easy in Western Pennsylvania. It cover 29 trail northeast of Pittsburgh. Order the book brownsrun

Browns Run Trail - Ronco to Smithfield

In German Township, Fayette County, PA

Browns Run Trail follows the abandoned Monongahela and B & O Lines that pass through the heart of the coal and coke region in German Township. The trail begins at the Monongahela River near Ronco.. It will someday continue east through Leckrone, Highhouse, and Smithfield as the Ronco Spur of the Sheepskin Trail, a distance of approximately 12 miles.

Browns Run Trail

Location German Township

Trailheads Ferry Rd, Short Cut Rd, PA21

Length, Surface planned 12 miles, 1.9 miles packed stone, 10.1 miles undeveloped

Character Shady

Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles

Amenities none

Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour 10 minutes south

There are no mileposts on this trail, so we use measured distance from the gate at the PA21 access.

This lovely little trail starts on the <<xxx plateau >> and makes its way down to the Monongahela River alongside Browns Run. Beginning at the PA21 access the well-maintained trail crosses the creek four times on the 0.9 miles to the Short Creek access. Near mile 0.6 alongside the trail is Clark Park, with playground equipment and a pavilion, a nice destination for families.

After crossing Short Creek Rd the trail crosses the creel again and enters a short cut and then follows the creek as it descends to the Monongalia River. In 2022 the trail ends at mile 1.9 at the Ferry access point, where the bridge over Browns Run is closed.

Local history, attractions

The Monser Branch of the Monongahela Railroad Company was built in the early twentieth century to carry coal and coke to the steel mills in Pittsburgh. Abandoned for some time, in 1990 it was sold to two individuals (Ross Rifle and Bob Croushore) for $1 as a possible biking/hiking trail. In 1999 a logo was created and the first tenth of a mile of trail was built. Over the years the township commissioners have supported the trail and in 2022 there is 1.9 miles of trail.

<< Add notes about the historical houses/mansions>>

Extensions of the ride

On the western end the trail will eventually reach the Monongahela River.

On the eastern end the trail is currently undeveloped for 10 miles and will connect with the Sheepskin Trail (not yet built).

Development plans

Long term plan is connect to the Sheepskin Trail (Page WS-23)

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin at the junction of US 119 heading west on PA21 just west of Uniontown. To get there from Pittsburgh head south on US51, US43, US119.

PA21 trailhead: mile 0.0 Go 8.4 miles, and just before the sign for PA166 South, Masontown, Exit 1/2 mile”, turn right at the Browns Run Trailhead sign. Go 0.2 miles to parking. Note, here PA21 is a divided highway and this access is only available from the south bound side.

Short Cut trailhead: mile 0.9 Go 7.8 miles and turn right/north on PA166 North, Go 0.4 miles and turn left/west on Gates Rd. Go 0.7 miles turn left/ south on Short Cut Rd. Go 0.5 miles, trail parking will be on the left, just past the trail crossing.

Ferry trailhead: mile 1.9 Because of a bridge out on Ferry Rd the road is in poor condition. We suggest using one of the other trailheads.


Rest rooms, water: Chemical toilet near mile 0.2

Bike shop, rentals: None

Restaurant, groceries: about a mile south on PA21, and PA166

Camping, simple lodging: In Uniontown and Morgantown

Swimming, fishing: Wading in Browns Run

Winter sports: None

Wheelchair access: okay, but short steep hill near Ferry Rd.

Trail organization

German Township, Fayette County

2 Long Street

McClellandtown, PA 15458


Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: Masontown, PA


Text version 15 July 2022 Bicycled PA21 access (mile 0.0) to Ferry Rd (mile 1.9) 6/2022, Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 6/2022.