The Lower Trail (pronounced as if it rhymes with 'flower') is an outstanding gravel path, which lies east of Altoona near the Allegrippis Trail System, Raystown Lake, and Huntingdon, PA. This trail and this area are often under-recognized as a wonderful spot for year-round outdoor recreation. Learn more about the trail below:
The Lower Trail is actually such a special rail trail that it is a designated National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service. The Audubon Society lists it as an Important Birds Area, too. First used as a canal system, then a railway, now a recreational trail, the Lower Trail offers a multitude of recreational options for enjoyment including searching for historical remnants.
Six trailhead parking access areas, known as 'stations' for their historic value, offer a variety of distance options for every rider, runner, skier, or walker. Those looking to fish or boat may also use these stations to access the river, but be sure to watch for and respect private property that the rail trail crosses.
The Lower Trail is almost flat, with only a slight uphill grade when traveling west, upstream, along Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. It is a great choice for those looking for a more leisurely adventure.
The rail corridor is owned and managed by Rails to Trails of Central Pennsylvania Inc. Most of the land on either side of the corridor is private.
Benches, covered pavilions, picnic areas, and historic signs offer plenty of places for users to relax and enjoy the history of this area. Multiple bridges along the trail add to the adventure!
Only a few miles of this trail are paved, while the rest is a path of small crushed stone, so if you are riding, chose your bike accordingly. Signage along the trail requests that equestrians keep all horses on the grassy edges of the path. Looking for a trail to ride with kids? With only three road crossings, this trail is very family friendly.
The trail does go through a few small communities including Williamsburg, PA. Weary travelers can stop at a few spots in Williamsburg, including ice cream stands, to refuel! Local amenities include bike racks, indoor seating, ice cream, coffee, made to order sandwiches, and more.
Who can use the trail? Almost any non-motorized user group. Hikers, bicyclists, equestrians, birders, boaters, fisherman, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, runners, strollers, even your leashed dogs are welcome! Skateboarders and rollerbladers are also welcome to use the two mile long paved section of trail near Williamsburg.
The Lower Trail is only 17 miles long, but a few long distance backpacking and bike packing trails use this corridor too. The 300+ mile Mid State Trail, which is a part of the 1,600 mile Great Eastern Trail uses this trail. Bike packers cycling the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway or the PA Bike Route G also use this trail. For this reason, a few overnight shelters are available on a first come, first serve basis. These shelters are not to be used by local campers, but rather long distance travelers who are on backpacking or bike packing expeditions. The shelters are near parking areas, so users can expect the areas to be patrolled by local law enforcement. Contact Rails To Trails of Central Pennsylvania for more information.
Bring your Raystown Lizard Map for the southern portion of trail, and your Rothrock Lizard Map for the northern section of trail. Both of these maps will help you add to the adventure; find and visit other areas such as Canoe Creek State Park, Trough Creek State Park, and of course Raystown Lake.
As always, to make your adventure enjoyable and safe, don't forget some snacks and water. When cycling, its always a good idea to ride prepared, wear a helmet and bring a spare tire tube and bike pump. You are a long way from services out here, and that is exactly why we love it.