Summary: Don't let the topo map fool you, this trail is not, in fact, under water (Not usually, anyway. The trail at Livermore was ankle deep in water January 2005). It follows the 1907 railroad grade through the Conemaugh Reservoir area.There are times you cross and can see older grades to the north or the still active grade to the south, raised higher to allow the reservoir to fill.
If you access at the Conemaugh Dam area, the Bow Tunnel has been blocked so that when the reservoir is full the water doesn't flow through. It can be a significant climb over Bow Ridge on your bike, the worst part being the switchback steps at the eastern portal. There is a track on the steps to help a little.
The eastern section through the reservoir (3 miles) is crushed limestone and is very leve (avg .28% grade). There are 4 bridge crossings that highlight the river and wetlands.
Trailhead: There is plenty of parking, picnic benches, a water fountain and rest rooms at the Conemaugh Dam outflow picnic area at the western end of this section of trail (N40 28.013 W79 22.145). Off of Rt 22 at New Alexandria, follow the Conemaugh Dam signs north on Rt 981, Tunnleton Rd. and Auren Rd.
To reach the eastern trailhead, watch for the West Penn Trail signs about midway between New Alexandria and Blairsville on Rt. 22. Travel north on Westinghouse Rd. past the plant to the parking area. (N40 27.061 W79 18.198) This trailhead has a disused and overgrown picnic area with grills but no other amenities.
Midway between the two is a parking area at Livermore Cemetary (N40 27.527 W79 20.142). From Rt22 take Livermore Rd. north all the way to the end.
Trail Guides for West Penn Trail-Conemaugh Reservoir:
Pennsylvanias Rail Trails (9th Edition)
by Tom Sexton & Patricia Tomes (Rails To Trails Conservancy)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes,
Ranger Contact: US Army Corps of Engineers 724-459-7240
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Kevin Geiselman, who has posted 96 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by TLC on 9/13/2009
great trail, great fishing. lots to see and very very peaceful wethr you are on foot or bike.
Reviewed by RR on 2/3/2008
This trail is a personal favorite of mine not only because it is a unique trail with plenty of scenery, but also because of a memory I have there. I got the wild idea to park my bike on one of the viaducts and hike back to where Livermore used to be, through the flood control area. Not a good idea! I was lost in the July heat for about 5 hours trying to get back to my bike. Just stick to the trail, thats adventurous enough! On the Conemaugh side of Bow Tunnel, pay attention to the active rail line; the rail bridge is very high, and when you see a train cross it, you cannon help but be amazed. The best of Pa's Rails to Trails by far!
Reviewed by mark on 4/15/2007
just to be with its nature the birds,fish,and the path itself is well worth the time it takes you one of many destinations i might add to say just take the time to listen to the peaceful message that the wind will whisper to you on most given days. myself i walk it when i can yet i have a mobile chair which can be utilized with ease. so pack up the backpacks and forget the mobile chair and explore
Reviewed by GLT on 3/12/2007
Just did finished walking part way (from Westinghouse to Livermore Cem. Compared to what it used to be there was a lot of work involved getting it fixed up. My compliments to the person(s) who thought this up. Should be an excellant walk anytime to view the birds and animals.
Reviewed by KAG on 9/21/2006
If you visit the USGS website at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/pa/nwis/uv?site_no=03043810 you can check on the reservoir water level (and other water quality graphs). Typically, the water level is around 903 feet above sea level. Normal rains will have the level spike to perhaps 911 feet. At 917 feet it would begin to inundate the trail at Bridge #2. At at 940 feet the trail from the Livermore parking area west would be under water. At maximum capacity, the entire trail would be wet and Bridge #2 would be under nearly 60 feet of water.
Reviewed by hbp on 12/15/2005
The Eastern Section is my favorite of the ones I've accompanied Kevin. I could go back again and again. Starting out at the Westinghouse Rd. parking area and biking through shaded hillsides that giveway to the reservoir wetlands is always a treat.
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