Five Star Trail

Parallel to US119 from Greensburg to Youngwood

The Five Star Trail is named for the 5 towns that cooperated to develop it: Greensburg, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, Hempfield Township, and Youngwood. It parallels US119 for 6.1 miles from Lynch Field in Greensburg to the Railroad Museum in Youngwood and then to Hollis Rd. A branch trail, the Sewickley Creek Trail, runs from Youngwood to Armbrust.

For most of its length the trail is finished in packed crushed limestone, though a mile is on a low-traffic road. Numerous trailside benches offer places to rest and enjoy the trail. Because of its urban character and location close to busy US119, this may become foremost a transportation and local recreation trail rather than a major destination.

This trail is unique in western Pennsylvania, in that it shares its corridor with an active rail line. The Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad runs 2 to 4 coal and freight trains daily. These are mostly short and slow, as trains go, but they still require caution. Please help make this combination "rail-with-trail" a success by avoiding conflict with the trains. Stay off the tracks and out of the buffer zone between the trail and the tracks.

The trail begins at Lynch Field in Greensburg. Bike riding in the park itself is restricted to the short inner oval track. The trail starts at this short oval near the rest rooms and switchbacks past the swimming pool. From the pool, head toward the railroad embankment and look for the underpass that takes you beneath the active Conrail track. This underpass is now lighted and has been decorated with murals. At the other end of the underpass, a short trail continues up to the level rail trail. From there it is 0.3 mile along side an old industrial area to the trestle over Pittsburgh St.

After the trestle the trail runs for a few blocks next to the Greensburg Shopping Center and residential back yards, then drops onto a bench cut into the hillside. Here the hill rises on the east, punctuated by occasional access stairs and ramps. To the west the ground drops away, providing a great view of central Greensburg. After 0.7 mile, you cross a trestle and enter the mixed residential and industrial areas of Southwest Greensburg, then pass under the Greensburg bypass and into South Greensburg, at Huff Av (PA819); this is 2.26 miles from Lynch Field.

The half-mile from Huff Av to Fairview St runs close to the tracks behind industrial buildings. Be especially careful near Fairview St. Soon after Fairview St two trestles over Jack's Run have been rebuilt for the trail. The obligatory wastewater treatment plant (every trail seems to have one!) is just past the second of these trestles. Past the water plant, the trail parallels Broadway St, the residential street of Midway. A mile from Fairview St you reach the road crossing at Shady Lane in Midway; this is 3.76 miles from Lynch Field.

After Midway the trail runs through woods beside Jacks Run for 0.7 miles to the entrance to the Buncher Commerce Park. You'll hear both birdsong from across the creek and traffic noise from parallel US119.

Five Star Trail

Location                                         Greensburg to Youngwood and to Armbrust, Hempfield Township

Trailheads                                                                           Lynch Field, Highland Av near Pittsburgh St,
                                                                                              Huff Av, Midway, Buncher Park, Youngwood

Length, Surface                                                           6.9 miles packed crushed stone, 0.9 mile on road

Character                                                         uncrowded, mixed residential and industrial, shady, flat

Usage restrictions                         Stay off RR tracks and out of buffer zone between trail and tracks
                                                                                                                                          no motorized vehicles

Amenities                                                                               Rest rooms, water, bike rental, food, lodging

Driving time from Pittsburgh                                                                                   50 minutes southeast

The trail emerges at the entry road to the Buncher Commerce Park. The creek has been re-channeled away from the tracks, and the trail shares the low-traffic road that runs between the new creek channel and the warehouses. To continue on the trail, turn left where the trail emerges on the road and follow the road along the creek for 0.9 mi. Where the road leaves the Commerce Park at Mt Pleasant Rd/Depot St, the creek returns to its original channel and the trail forks; this is 5.5 miles from Lynch Field.

The right fork is almost straight ahead. Cross the road and pick up the trail again just across the tracks from the Railroad Museum on Depot St in Youngwood.  The limestone surface resumes here, and the trail continues another half-mile along the track to Hillis Dr/Fairgrounds Rd, 6.1 miles from Lynch Field. Some day this branch will continue another 3 miles to Hunker and eventually the developers hope to extend it 3 more miles to connect with the Coal and Coke Trail at Tarrs.

The left fork is the Sewickley Creek Trail. It crosses the creek on Depot St and almost immediately turns right onto limestone-surfaced trail. This leads half a mile through a wetland, up a hill, and into the campus of Westmoreland County Community College. The trail winds through the college to John Wilkenson Rd and parallels the road almost to Armbrust, where it ends at the creek where a bridge once crossed, about 1.6 miles from the fork. Eventually this branch will continue another 5 miles to Mammoth Park.



Local history, attractions

Current train traffic along the trail is operated by Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad on the former Conrail Southwest Secondary Branch, which runs from behind Greengate Mall to Connellsville. They operate 2 to 4 trains a day with 6-10 cars each; these trains shouldn't run faster than 10mph. Before Conrail took it over, the line was operated by the Pennsylvania RR.

A Railroad Museum at Youngwood is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, possibly later on Saturday. This is the north terminus for the Laurel Highland Railroad's "Highlander", a scenic passenger train.

Development plans

The Sewickley Creek branch will continue to Mammoth Park, running largely through the industrial areas the railroad once served.  

An 11-mile extension from Youngwood to Scottdale is being designed.

The trail developers hope eventually to connect this trail to the Yough River Trail in Connellsville, 18-20 miles from Youngwood.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin headed east on the PA Turnpike from Exit 6 (Monroeville). To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take the Parkway East past Monroeville.

Lynch Field (north) trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 7 (Irwin) headed east on US30 toward Greensburg. Go east 6.4 miles on US30 and take the Pittsburgh St exit. This is the first Greensburg exit, just past Greengate Mall. Go 1.2 miles on Pittsburgh St and turn left on US119 at the county courthouse, an ornate stone building with a gold dome. Follow US119 past the Sheetz store at PA819, and look for a place to turn right into Lynch Field parking. The trail starts near the oval track and passes the swimming pool as it leaves the park.

Highland Av near Pittsburgh St trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 7 (Irwin) headed east on US30 toward Greensburg. Go east 6.4 miles on US30 and take the Pittsburgh St exit. This is the first Greensburg exit, just past Greengate Mall. Go 1.6 miles on Pittsburgh St, passing the county courthouse, an ornate stone building with a gold dome. A third of a mile after the courthouse, you pass under a railroad trestle. Immediately after the trestle and before the Greensburg Shopping Center, turn right on Highland St and look for inoffensive parking. The ramp up to the trail is about a block down Highland St, across from a cleaning shop.

Huff St trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 8 (New Stanton) following signs to go north on US119 toward Greensburg. After a mile and a quarter of highway interchanges, you'll be on US119 entering Youngwood. Follow US119 for about 1.5 miles until the northbound and southbound lanes rejoin. Continue about 2.8 miles to Huff St, turn right, and cross the creek and the trail. Parking is on the left.

Midway (Willow Crossing) trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 8 (New Stanton) following signs to go north on US119 toward Greensburg. After a mile and a quarter of highway interchanges, you'll be on US119 entering Youngwood. Follow US119 for about 1.5 miles until the northbound and southbound lanes rejoin. Continue about 1.3 mile to the second stop light (Willow Crossing Rd), turn right, and cross the creek and the trail. Parking is on the left.

Buncher Park (Trolley Line Av) trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 8 (New Stanton) following signs to go north on US119 toward Greensburg. After a mile and a quarter of highway interchanges, you'll be on US119 entering Youngwood. Follow US119 for 1.5 miles until the northbound and southbound lanes rejoin. Continue about 0.8 mile to the next stoplight (Trolley Line Av) and turn right into Buncher Industrial Park. The parking lot is on the left, just across the trail.

Youngwood (south) trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 8 (New Stanton) following signs to go north on US119 toward Greensburg. After a mile and a quarter of highway interchanges, you'll be on US119 entering Youngwood. In a few blocks US119 splits, with the northbound lanes a block away from the southbound lanes. Continue for 0.6 miles after the split to the Depot St traffic light and turn right on Depot St. This is the fourth traffic light in Youngwood; the street sign may be missing, but it's marked as the turn for the community college. Go two blocks on Depot St to the Railroad Museum; the trail and parking are just past the tracks at the museum.

Westmoreland County Community College trailhead: Get off the PA Turnpike at Exit 8 (New Stanton) following signs to go north on US119 toward Greensburg. After a mile and a quarter of highway interchanges, you'll be on US119 entering Youngwood. In a few blocks US119 splits, with the northbound lanes a block away from the southbound lanes. Continue for 0.6 miles after the split to the Depot St traffic light and turn right on Depot St. This is the fourth traffic light in Youngwood; the street sign may be missing, but it's marked as the turn for the community college. Go two blocks continue past the Railroad Museum and Youngwood trailhead parking.  Follow Depot St, which turns into Armbrust Rd for about 0.6 miles. Turn right/south onto Community College Dr. Go about 0.2 miles to the last parking lot on your right. The trail is along the far edge of this lot.

Amenities

Rest rooms water: In Lynch Field

Bike shop, rental: Bike shops in Greensburg. Bike rental at Lynch Field, at the right side of the trailhead.

Restaurant, groceries: Several restaurants within a block of the trail in Greensburg. Many restaurants along US119. Lots of chain fast-food places near Huff Av. Convenience stores within a few blocks of Lynch Field and the Railroad Museum.

Camping, simple lodging: Motels in the Greensburg and Youngwood, including one adjacent to the trail near Huff Av

Swimming, fishing: Jacks Run is a bilious shade of grayish green, running over orange rocks. We doubt that fish live there, and we certainly aren't about to swim in it. There's a swimming pool at Lynch Field.

Wheelchair access: All trailheads accessible, but there's a steep grade from Lynch Field to the railroad underpass. There are several street crossings with moderate traffic.

Trail organization

Brian Zadorecky

Five Star Trail Council of the Regional Trail Corporation
RD12 Box 203
Greensburg PA 15601
(724) 830-3959
co.westmoreland.pa.us/index.aspx?nid=1007

830-3959 is Brian Zadorecky (724) 830-3950 is County Parks or (724?) 836-7900 or (724) 830-3962 is Malcolm Sias.

Maps, guides, other references

Trail brochure

USGS Topographic Maps: Greensburg, Mount Pleasant.

Version

Text version of 28 Apr 2012 based on personal observation while bicycling Aug 2011. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 3/2012.

 

Editors' notes

MYTC 3/2 and Bob McKinley's Nov 94 letter, TAT1/2; MYTC3/2

Conrail is considering abandoning the Southwest Branch Line between Greensburg and Youngwood (6 miles).  Alternatively, they might sell it as a short line to serve the few remaining customers.  The Five Star Trail Committee represents the interests of Greensburg, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, Youngwood, and Hempfield Township in converting the line to a rail-trail, as a parallel trail with the railroad if necessary.

The Radabaugh section of the line (about 2.5 miles in Greensburg) is not in service; that is the likely starting point.

At one point, CSX planned to abandon the branch line from Broadford and New Stanton.  They have changed their mind, but if they reverse again, it could be added to Five Star to connect Greensburg to the Yough River Trail.