Trail (Juniata River Corridor)
Along the Frankstown Branch, Juniata River from Alfarata in Huntingdon
County to Williamsburg in
This valley has served as a transportation corridor since it was part
of the Frankstown Path, a major Indian route connecting Harrisburg with
Kittanning. In subsequent times it has supported a canal, a railroad, and a
highway. The route of the former railroad and canal forms the Lower (rhymes with
"flower") Trail. This trail runs alongside the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata
River without road crossings for 11 miles through forest and farmland. The Juniata
River here is really a creek, often running in shallow riffles near the
trail. Pennsylvania's "G" route, the central north-south cross-state bicycle
touring route, uses the Lower Trail from Alfarata to Williamsburg.
<<Explain relation to Double Burger>>
Within sight of the Alfarata trailhead, the trail crosses under
US22 and heads upstream along the Juniata to squeeze through a small gap in Tussey
Mountain. The town here is said to be called Water Street because
pack trains used the creek bed through the narrow steep gap. At MP 0.8 the
Water Street Flea Market beside the trail offers everything from antique tools
to Beanie Babies.
Between MP 2 and MP 4 the trail passes remnants of stone
quarries. First, you see the foundations of structures used to bring stone down
from Owens quarry, which you can see high on the hill. Another mile and a half
brings you to Goodman quarry, also marked by concrete foundations. Between the
two quarries, the canal channel has become the back channel of the creek,
usually separated from the main channel by an island. Here, as with most of
the remaining traces of the canal, a good imagination will help you visualize
the former structures.
At MP 4.2 the trail crosses Fox Run on a handsome stone arch
bridge. A view of this bridge from the creek bed is featured in many trail
descriptions. At MPs 4.8 and 5 you cross the Juniata River twice where the
railroad took a shortcut across a peninsula. Just past the second bridge you'll
reach the Mt Etna access area, including a bridge over a former mill race. The
Mt Etna Iron furnace community is about half a mile from the trail here.
At MP 6.3 the trail passes Canal Lock No 61. The walls of the
lock are clearly visible. Another mile brings you to numerous foundations that
mark the Juniata Limestone Company and its company town, 7 miles from Alfarata
and 4 miles from Williamsburg. From here to Williamsburg the traces of the
canal are more frequent, including locks and foundations of locktender's
houses. Other signs of current use—farms and houses—are also more frequent.
The trail is graced by no fewer than four sets of mileage
markers: three from railroads and one for the modern trail. The trail is marked
from 0 to 11 in both directions in white numbers on brown posts. The railroad
markers are black on white. Two such markers (with different numbering systems)
are just north of the Williamsburg parking lot, and others appear along the
length of the trail.
Local history, attractions
The Frankstown Path, also called the Allegheny Path or Ohio Path,
was the major Indian trail across this region. It connected Paxtang (now Harrisburg) with Kittanning and Forks of the Ohio (now Pittsburgh). In this area it
followed approximately the same route as US22, and it's known locally as the
Kittanning Path. Hunters, trappers, and pioneers later used this route to reach
Lower Trail (Juniata River Corridor)
Location Alfarata to Williamsburg, Porter and Morris Townships in Huntingdon
Catherine and Woodbury Townships in Blair County
Etna Iron Furnace, Covedale, Williamsburg
Length, Surface 11
miles, packed crushed stone with parallel mowed trail
wooded, shady, flat
Usage restrictions Horses
ok; no motorized vehicles
Driving time from Pittsburgh 2
hours 20 minutes east
The canal was built in the 1830's as part of the Juniata Division
of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, which connected Philadelphia to Pittsburgh with three canals, a railroad, and the Allegheny Portage Railway, a combination
railroad and inclined plane. Traces of this part of the canal can also be seen
along Roaring Run Trail. Poor management, floods, and the rise of railroads led
to the demise of the canal. As technology gave railroads superiority over
canals, the Pennsy RR purchased the entire Mainline Canal system in 1857. In
1879 the Petersburg Branch of the Pennsy was built on this corridor. It
operated until 1979 and was abandoned in 1982. In 1990, T. Dean Lower provided
funding to purchase the corridor as a rail-trail.
[[Usual stuff about Double Burger]]
The trail group plans to extend the trail from Williamsburg to Canoe
Creek State Park. The preliminary planning has been done and construction is
expected in 2002.
[[Check this in 2002]]
Vicinity: Directions begin headed east on US22 from its
intersection with PA36 in Hollidaysburg. To reach this point from Pittsburgh,
go east on US22, taking care to stay on US22 as it exits the 4-lane highway and
zogs and zags for a few miles in the vicinity of the US220/I99 interchange.
Alfarata (north) trailhead: Follow US22 18.6 miles
east from PA36. Turn left on SR4014 toward Alfarata; this turn is 0.7 miles
after the intersection of US22 and PA45/453. Go 0.4 miles on SR4014 to
Mt Etna access point: Follow US22 12.7 miles east from
PA36. Turn right on T461 and follow this road to the trailhead near its
intersection with SR2017. «unchecked»
trailhead: Follow US22 for 9 miles east from P36. Turn right on PA866 (to Williamsburg). Follow PA866 into town, where it becomes 1st St. Go straight on 1st
St when PA866 turns right and go two blocks to parking at the intersection of
1st St and Liberty St. Parking is a total of 3.8 miles from US22.
Rest rooms, water: Chemical toilets at Alfarata, Mt Etna,
and Williamsburg trailheads.
Bike shop, rental: : In Williamsburg, Past to
Present Trailhead Shop adjacent to trailhead parking.
Restaurant, groceries: In Williamsburg, Past to Present
Trailhead Shop adjacent to trailhead parking, and a convenience store a block
from trailhead. If the flea market at Water Street is operating, there will
probably be snacks there.
Camping, simple lodging: Family cabins at Canoe
Creek State Park, just south of Williamsburg on US22.
Swimming, fishing: Swimming in Frankstown Br Juniata R.
Fishing quality unknown
Winter sports: Cross-country skiing
Wheelchair access: OK
Cross-country skier emerging at Alfarata trailhead
PO Box 592
Hollidaysburg PA 16648-0592
Membership: $10/year individual, $12/year family
Rails-to-Trails of Central PA
Maps, guides, other references
Trail brochure, available at trailheads
USGS Topographic Maps: Spruce Creek, Williamsburg.
Text version from 2002 edition. Conditions will have changed; you
are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 12/1995
Check on whether Alexandria is needed.
References: PaGRT94, TiP5/2, TAT2/1, BCRtT95, 40GRT, Wallace