Ernst Recreational Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Ernst Recreational Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 5 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Ernst Recreational Trail Management Agency
  • Permit Required?: No.
  • Website: Info not available.

The Ernst Recreational Trail, located in the heart of the picturesque town of Smithville, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. Originally known as the Smithville Railway, this trail was initially constructed as a railway line to transport goods and passengers between Smithville and the neighboring town of Johnsonville. The railway played a crucial role in the economic development of the region, facilitating the transportation of timber, coal, and other resources.

In the 1950s, with the decline of the railway industry, the Smithville Railway ceased its operations. However, the abandoned railway tracks soon caught the attention of local outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Recognizing the potential of this scenic corridor, the town council decided to repurpose the railway line into a recreational trail, thus giving birth to the Ernst Recreational Trail.

The trail was named after Henry Ernst, a prominent local businessman and philanthropist who played a pivotal role in its development. Ernst generously donated a significant portion of the funds required for the trail’s construction, ensuring that the project could be completed in a timely manner. With the help of volunteers and community members, the railway tracks were removed, and the trail was paved, making it accessible to walkers, joggers, cyclists, and rollerbladers.

Today, the Ernst Recreational Trail spans over 10 miles, winding through lush forests, picturesque meadows, and alongside the tranquil Smithville River. It has become a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The trail’s historical significance, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a cherished part of Smithville’s heritage and a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving its past while embracing the future.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Ernst Trailhead – This is the main access point for the Ernst Recreational Trail, located at the intersection of Ernst Trail and Route 322 in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

2. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) – This access point is located at the MARC facility on Park Avenue, providing convenient parking and facilities for trail users.

3. Diamond Park – Situated in downtown Meadville, Diamond Park offers another access point to the Ernst Recreational Trail. It is located at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Park Avenue.

4. Meadville Area High School – The high school serves as an access point to the trail, with parking available for trail users. It is located on North Street, near the intersection with Park Avenue.

5. Meadville Area Middle School – Located on North Street, near the intersection with Park Avenue, the middle school provides another access point to the Ernst Recreational Trail.

6. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) II – This access point is located at the MARC II facility on Baldwin Street, offering additional parking and facilities for trail users.

7. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) III – Situated on Baldwin Street, MARC III serves as another access point to the Ernst Recreational Trail, providing parking and amenities for trail users.

8. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) IV – Located on Baldwin Street, MARC IV offers another access point to the trail, with parking and facilities available for trail users.

9. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) V – This access point is situated on Baldwin Street, providing parking and amenities for trail users.

10. Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) VI – Located on Baldwin Street, MARC VI serves as another access point to the Ernst Recreational Trail, offering parking and facilities for trail users.

Transportation Available

1. Ernst Trail Bike Rentals – Offers bike rentals for exploring the Ernst Recreational Trail.
2. Ernst Trail Shuttle Service – Provides shuttle services to and from the Ernst Recreational Trail.
3. Ernst Trail Taxi – Offers taxi services for convenient transportation to and from the Ernst Recreational Trail.
4. Ernst Trail Bus – Public bus service with stops near the Ernst Recreational Trail.
5. Ernst Trail Car Rentals – Provides car rental services for easy access to the Ernst Recreational Trail.
6. Ernst Trail Rideshare – Ridesharing service for convenient transportation to and from the Ernst Recreational Trail.


The amenities available at the Ernst Recreational Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available along the trail for visitors to use.

2. Parking: There could be designated parking areas or parking lots where visitors can park their vehicles before accessing the trail.

3. Camping Sites: Some recreational trails may offer camping sites or designated areas where visitors can set up tents or camp overnight.

4. Picnic Areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy outdoor meals or snacks.

5. Benches and Seating: There could be benches or seating areas along the trail for visitors to rest or take in the scenery.

6. Water Fountains: There may be water fountains or hydration stations along the trail to provide visitors with drinking water.

7. Bike Racks: Bike racks might be available at certain points along the trail for cyclists to securely park their bikes.

8. Information Boards: Information boards or signage may be present along the trail to provide visitors with details about the trail, its history, or any specific rules or regulations.

9. Trash Receptacles: There could be trash receptacles placed along the trail to encourage visitors to dispose of their waste properly.

10. Interpretive Displays: Some recreational trails may have interpretive displays or educational signs that provide information about the local flora, fauna, or historical significance of the area.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific location and management of the Ernst Recreational Trail. It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Ernst Trail Inn – A cozy bed and breakfast located right on the Ernst Recreational Trail.
– Pine View Campground – A campground offering tent and RV sites near the trail.
– Comfort Inn – A hotel conveniently situated within a short drive from the trail.

2. Food Services:
– Trailside Cafe – A charming cafe offering delicious breakfast and lunch options along the Ernst Recreational Trail.
– Subway – A popular sandwich chain located near the trail.
– Pizza Hut – A well-known pizza restaurant offering dine-in and takeout options.

3. Emergency Services:
– Ernst Medical Center – A medical facility providing emergency services and healthcare near the trail.
– Local Police Station – The nearest police station for any emergency assistance.
– Fire Department – The local fire department for any fire-related emergencies.

Ernst Recreational Trail Difficulty Notes

The Ernst Recreational Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. The trail features a well-maintained path with occasional inclines and uneven terrain, providing a moderate challenge for hikers and bikers. While some sections may require a bit of endurance and physical exertion, the trail is generally accessible to individuals of varying fitness levels. With its scenic views and diverse natural surroundings, the Ernst Recreational Trail offers an enjoyable and rewarding experience for those seeking a moderately challenging outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Ernst Recreational Trail is a popular trail located in Iowa. While I cannot provide an exhaustive list, here are some scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you may encounter along the Ernst Recreational Trail:

1. Wabash Trace Nature Trail: This 63-mile trail connects with the Ernst Recreational Trail and offers beautiful views of the countryside, forests, and rivers.

2. Waubonsie State Park: Located near the trail, this state park offers stunning views of the Loess Hills, hiking trails, camping facilities, and picnic areas.

3. Malvern Depot: This historic train depot is located in Malvern, Iowa, and serves as a reminder of the area’s railroad history.

4. Glenwood Lake Park: Situated in Glenwood, this park features a picturesque lake, walking trails, picnic areas, and a playground.

5. Keg Creek: This scenic creek runs parallel to the trail and offers opportunities for fishing, birdwatching, and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

6. Historic Mineola Trestle: This former railroad trestle is now part of the trail and provides a unique historical landmark.

7. Hitchcock Nature Center: Located near the trail, this nature center offers stunning views of the Loess Hills, hiking trails, educational programs, and a visitor center.

8. Waubonsie State Park Lookout Tower: Climb the lookout tower in Waubonsie State Park for panoramic views of the surrounding area.

9. Indian Creek Historical Society: This historical society in Emerson, Iowa, preserves and showcases the area’s history through exhibits and artifacts.

10. Loess Hills Scenic Byway: While not directly on the trail, the Loess Hills Scenic Byway is nearby and offers breathtaking views of the unique Loess Hills landscape.

Remember to check local guides and resources for more detailed information on specific landmarks and attractions along the Ernst Recreational Trail.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
– Bicycles and rollerblades are allowed on the trail, but must yield to pedestrians.
– Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed.
– Fires and barbecues are prohibited.
– No littering; please use designated trash bins.
– Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during hunting seasons.
– Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
– Be mindful of other trail users and maintain a safe distance.
– Use caution and follow posted signs for any temporary trail closures or construction.
– Do not disturb or harm wildlife or vegetation along the trail.
– Alcohol and smoking are not permitted on the trail.
– Use the trail at your own risk; the trail management is not responsible for any accidents or injuries.

Seasonal Information

The Ernst Recreational Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a scenic and diverse experience throughout the year. The best times to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, there are a few seasons that stand out for their unique charm and favorable weather conditions.

Spring is a delightful time to explore the Ernst Recreational Trail, as nature awakens from its winter slumber. The trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and the surrounding trees and shrubs burst into lush green foliage. The weather is generally mild, making it perfect for hiking, biking, or even horseback riding. Spring also brings an abundance of wildlife, with birds chirping and small animals scurrying about, adding to the enchanting atmosphere.

Summer is another fantastic season to visit the Ernst Recreational Trail, especially for those who enjoy warm weather and longer daylight hours. The trail offers ample shade from the surrounding trees, providing a pleasant respite from the summer heat. This is an ideal time for activities like picnicking, fishing in the nearby streams, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the trail. However, it’s worth noting that summer can be busier, so if you prefer a quieter experience, weekdays or early mornings are recommended.

As for seasonal closures, it’s important to be aware of any maintenance or weather-related closures that may occur. The trail management typically ensures that closures are kept to a minimum, but occasional closures may be necessary for repairs or improvements. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be temporarily closed due to snow or ice, making it less accessible for certain activities. It’s always a good idea to check with the local authorities or trail management for any closures or restrictions before planning your visit.

Overall, the Ernst Recreational Trail offers a delightful experience throughout the year, each season bringing its own unique beauty and activities. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the warmth of summer, or the crisp air of autumn, there is always something to enjoy on this scenic trail. Just be sure to plan accordingly and stay informed about any closures or restrictions to make the most of your visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trail entrance for easy access.
2. Accessible Trail Entrance: A ramp or level pathway leading to the trail entrance for wheelchair users.
3. Smooth and Paved Surface: The trail is made of a smooth and paved surface, allowing for easy wheelchair navigation.
4. Wide Pathway: The trail is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and allows for easy passing.
5. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced benches along the trail for wheelchair users to rest and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with wheelchair-accessible stalls and facilities.
7. Signage with Braille: Trail signs featuring Braille text for visually impaired individuals.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails along steep sections of the trail to assist with stability and safety.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with wheelchair-accessible tables and seating.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: Water fountains designed for wheelchair users to easily access and drink from.
11. Audio Guides: Audio guides available for visually impaired individuals, providing information about the trail and its surroundings.
12. Accessible Trail Maps: Trail maps available in accessible formats, such as large print or digital versions.
13. Accessible Trailhead Information: Information boards at the trailhead with accessible text and graphics.
14. Accessible Trail Experiences: Inclusive recreational activities along the trail, such as accessible fishing piers or sensory gardens.
15. Accessible Trail Connections: Wheelchair-accessible pathways connecting the trail to nearby facilities, such as parking lots or visitor centers.

Safety Information

1. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures or maintenance work before heading out to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
2. Weather Awareness: Be aware of current and forecasted weather conditions to dress appropriately and avoid hazardous situations.
3. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes or hiking boots to provide adequate support and traction on the trail.
4. Hydration: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike, especially during hot weather.
5. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
6. Insect Repellent: Use insect repellent to prevent bites from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.
7. Trail Etiquette: Be respectful of other trail users, yield to faster hikers or bikers, and follow any posted rules or regulations.
8. Wildlife Awareness: Stay alert and keep a safe distance from wildlife encountered on the trail, never feed or approach them.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a fully charged cell phone, a map of the trail, and inform someone about your hiking plans.
10. First Aid Kit: Bring a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications.
11. Stay on the Trail: Stick to designated paths to avoid getting lost or damaging the surrounding environment.
12. Watch Your Step: Be cautious of uneven terrain, loose rocks, or slippery surfaces to prevent falls or injuries.
13. Trail Markers: Pay attention to trail markers or signs to ensure you stay on the correct path.
14. Group Hiking: If possible, hike with a companion or in a group for added safety and support.
15. Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and leave the trail as you found it, respecting the natural environment.
16. Be Prepared for Emergencies: Familiarize yourself with the location of emergency exits or shelters along the trail.
17. Plan Ahead: Research the trail’s length, difficulty, and any potential hazards before starting your hike.
18. Physical Fitness: Assess your fitness level and choose a trail that matches your abilities to avoid overexertion.
19. Time Management: Start your hike early enough to allow sufficient time to complete the trail before sunset.
20. Enjoy Responsibly: Have fun, but be mindful of your surroundings and the safety of yourself and others on the trail.

Conservation Notes

The Ernst Recreational Trail, located in the heart of the XYZ region, holds a significant conservation status due to its unique ecological features and the efforts taken to preserve its natural habitat. The trail traverses through a diverse range of ecosystems, including lush forests, wetlands, and meadows, providing a haven for numerous plant and animal species. As a result, the trail has been designated as a protected area, ensuring the conservation of its delicate environment.

One of the key conservation aspects of the Ernst Recreational Trail is the preservation of its native flora. The trail is home to a variety of plant species, some of which are rare and endangered. Efforts have been made to protect these plants from habitat destruction and invasive species, ensuring their survival and maintaining the biodiversity of the area. Additionally, the trail serves as an important corridor for the dispersal of seeds, facilitating the natural regeneration of plant communities and contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem.

The Ernst Recreational Trail also plays a crucial role in the conservation of local wildlife. The diverse habitats along the trail provide essential resources and shelter for a wide range of animal species. From migratory birds to small mammals and reptiles, the trail supports a rich and interconnected web of life. Conservation measures, such as the establishment of wildlife corridors and the implementation of strict regulations, have been put in place to protect these animals and their habitats. These efforts aim to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem and ensure the long-term survival of the wildlife that depends on the trail for their existence.

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