Lower Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Lower Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 16.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.allentownpa.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks/Lehigh-Parkway

The Lower Trail, also known as the Lower Trail Greenway, is a historic trail located in central Pennsylvania, United States. The trail follows the path of the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Petersburg Branch, which was constructed in the late 1800s. Originally built to transport coal and other goods, the railroad played a significant role in the region’s industrial development.

The construction of the Petersburg Branch began in 1881 and was completed in 1883. The railroad line stretched approximately 20 miles, connecting the towns of Alexandria and Petersburg. It served as a vital transportation link, facilitating the movement of goods and people between the rural communities and larger cities. The railroad was primarily used for freight transportation, carrying coal, lumber, and agricultural products.

Over the years, the Petersburg Branch faced several challenges, including declining coal production and increased competition from other transportation modes. As a result, the railroad gradually lost its significance and was eventually abandoned in the 1970s. However, recognizing the historical and recreational value of the rail corridor, local communities and organizations came together to transform the former railroad bed into a multi-use trail.

In 1994, the Lower Trail Greenway was officially opened to the public. The trail spans approximately 17 miles, offering a scenic route for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Along the trail, visitors can still see remnants of the railroad’s past, including old bridges, tunnels, and mile markers. The Lower Trail not only provides a recreational opportunity but also serves as a living testament to the region’s industrial heritage and the importance of transportation in its development.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Canoe Creek State Park Trailhead: Located at Canoe Creek State Park, this trailhead offers access to the Lower Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers and bikers.

2. Williamsburg Trailhead: Situated in the town of Williamsburg, this trailhead provides easy access to the Lower Trail. It has parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for exploring the trail.

3. Alexandria Trailhead: Located in the town of Alexandria, this trailhead offers parking and access to the Lower Trail. It is a popular spot for locals and visitors to begin their journey on the trail.

4. Birmingham Trailhead: Situated in the village of Birmingham, this trailhead provides access to the Lower Trail. It has parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for hikers and bikers.

5. Tipton Trailhead: Located in the village of Tipton, this trailhead offers parking and access to the Lower Trail. It is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts to begin their adventure on the trail.

6. Tyrone Trailhead: Situated in the town of Tyrone, this trailhead provides easy access to the Lower Trail. It has parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for exploring the trail.

7. Spruce Creek Trailhead: Located near the village of Spruce Creek, this trailhead offers parking and access to the Lower Trail. It is a popular spot for hikers and bikers to begin their journey on the trail.

8. Barree Trailhead: Situated in the village of Barree, this trailhead provides access to the Lower Trail. It has parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for outdoor enthusiasts.

9. Mount Union Trailhead: Located in the town of Mount Union, this trailhead offers parking and access to the Lower Trail. It is a popular spot for locals and visitors to begin their adventure on the trail.

10. Mapleton Trailhead: Situated in the village of Mapleton, this trailhead provides easy access to the Lower Trail. It has parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for exploring the trail.

Transportation Available

1. Lower Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation along the Lower Trail.
2. Lower Trail Bike Rentals – Bike rental service offering a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the Lower Trail.
3. Lower Trail Taxi – Taxi service available for quick and convenient transportation to and from the Lower Trail.
4. Lower Trail Bus – Bus service providing affordable transportation options for groups and individuals visiting the Lower Trail.
5. Lower Trail Car Rentals – Car rental service offering flexibility and convenience for exploring the Lower Trail and its surroundings.


The Lower Trail offers the following amenities:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at designated areas along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There are parking lots or designated parking areas available at various access points along the Lower Trail. Visitors can park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: The Lower Trail does not have designated camping sites. However, there may be nearby campgrounds or camping facilities in the surrounding areas for visitors who wish to camp.

4. Picnic Areas: There are picnic areas along the Lower Trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas may have picnic tables, benches, or open spaces for picnicking.

5. Benches: There are benches placed at regular intervals along the trail, providing resting spots for visitors to take a break and enjoy the surroundings.

6. Water Fountains: Some sections of the Lower Trail may have water fountains or hydration stations where visitors can refill their water bottles.

7. Information Boards: Information boards or signage may be present along the trail, providing visitors with information about the trail, its history, and points of interest.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The Lower Trail may have designated scenic overlooks or viewpoints where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

9. Wildlife Viewing Areas: There may be designated areas along the trail where visitors can observe and appreciate the local wildlife.

10. Interpretive Displays: The Lower Trail may have interpretive displays or educational panels that provide information about the flora, fauna, and history of the area.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific section or access point of the Lower Trail. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information on amenities and facilities.

Nearby Services

1. Lower Trail Lodge – A cozy lodging option located near the Lower Trail, offering comfortable accommodations.
2. Trailside Cafe – A food service establishment conveniently situated along the Lower Trail, serving delicious meals and snacks.
3. Lower Trail Emergency Services – Emergency services available in the vicinity of the Lower Trail, providing assistance in case of any emergencies.

Lower Trail Difficulty Notes

The Lower Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail features a well-maintained path with minimal elevation changes, making it accessible for beginners and families with children. However, there are occasional rocky sections and tree roots that may require careful footing. Additionally, the trail can become muddy and slippery after rainfall, adding a slight challenge. Overall, the Lower Trail provides a pleasant and enjoyable hiking experience without being overly strenuous.

Features And Attractions

The Lower Trail, also known as the Lower Trail Greenway, is a scenic trail located in central Pennsylvania, USA. It stretches for approximately 17 miles along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. Here are some scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and other points of interest along the Lower Trail:

1. Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River: The trail follows the beautiful Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River, offering scenic views of the water and surrounding landscapes.

2. Canoe Creek State Park: Located near the trail, Canoe Creek State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It features a 155-acre lake, hiking trails, picnic areas, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

3. Historic Canal Locks: Along the Lower Trail, you can find remnants of historic canal locks that were once used for transportation along the Pennsylvania Canal.

4. Tipton Waterworks: This historic site is home to the Tipton Waterworks, which was built in the late 1800s to supply water to the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is now a museum showcasing the history of the waterworks and the railroad.

5. Ironville: Ironville is a small historic village located near the trail. It was once a bustling iron manufacturing community in the 1800s and is now a designated historic district.

6. Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark: Although not directly on the Lower Trail, the famous Horseshoe Curve is located nearby. It is a railroad engineering marvel and a National Historic Landmark, offering panoramic views of trains navigating a horseshoe-shaped curve.

7. Scenic Overlooks: The Lower Trail features several scenic overlooks that provide stunning views of the surrounding countryside, including farmland, forests, and the Juniata River.

8. Wildlife Viewing: The trail passes through diverse habitats, making it an excellent spot for wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for various bird species, deer, foxes, and other wildlife.

9. Covered Bridges: The Lower Trail crosses several historic covered bridges, adding to the scenic charm of the trail. These bridges are not only functional but also serve as picturesque landmarks.

10. Natural Landscapes: The Lower Trail meanders through forests, fields, and wetlands, offering a variety of natural landscapes to enjoy. Keep an eye out for wildflowers, trees, and other flora and fauna.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and points of interest along the Lower Trail. Exploring the trail will provide a rich experience of Pennsylvania’s natural beauty and history.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Lower Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
4. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the Lower Trail.
5. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work.
6. Camping or overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
7. Fires and open flames are prohibited on the trail.
8. Respect other trail users and maintain a safe and courteous environment.
9. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
10. Leave no trace – pack out all trash and litter.
11. Fishing is allowed in designated areas, but make sure to follow local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits.
12. Swimming or wading in bodies of water along the trail may be prohibited, depending on specific regulations.
13. Hunting or trapping is not permitted on the Lower Trail.
14. Alcohol consumption may be prohibited on the trail, depending on local regulations.
15. Be aware of and follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at trailheads or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Lower Trail, located in central Pennsylvania, offers a picturesque and serene experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning 17 miles along the Juniata River, this scenic trail is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. When planning your visit, it’s essential to consider the best times of the year to fully enjoy the trail and be aware of any seasonal closures.

One of the best times to visit the Lower Trail is during the spring season, particularly from April to June. During this time, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom along its banks. The weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and occasional showers that enhance the natural beauty of the surroundings. Spring is also an excellent time for birdwatching, as many migratory species make their way through the area.

Summer is another popular season to explore the Lower Trail, especially from July to August. The trail offers a cool respite from the summer heat, thanks to the shade provided by the dense tree canopy. The river provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, and kayaking, making it an ideal destination for water enthusiasts. However, it’s worth noting that summer weekends can be busier, so visiting during weekdays or early mornings can provide a more peaceful experience.

As for seasonal closures, it’s important to be aware of any maintenance or weather-related closures that may occur. The Lower Trail is generally open year-round, but occasional closures may happen due to fallen trees, flooding, or construction work. It’s advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact the local authorities for any updates before planning your visit. Additionally, some sections of the trail may be temporarily closed during hunting seasons for safety reasons, so it’s essential to be aware of the local hunting regulations if visiting during those times.

Overall, the Lower Trail offers a delightful experience throughout the year, each season bringing its own unique charm. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the refreshing shade of summer, or the crisp air of fall, this trail promises a memorable outdoor adventure for all nature enthusiasts. Just remember to plan accordingly, be aware of any seasonal closures, and respect the natural surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trail: The Lower Trail is wheelchair accessible, providing a smooth and level surface for individuals using mobility aids.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and ample space are provided along the Lower Trail.
4. Trailhead Accessibility: The trailhead area is designed to be accessible, featuring ramps, curb cuts, and wide pathways for easy entry and exit.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the Lower Trail are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, offering accessible tables and seating options.
6. Braille Signage: Braille signage is installed at various points along the trail, providing information and directions for visually impaired individuals.
7. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available for individuals with visual impairments, offering audio descriptions of the trail’s features and points of interest.
8. Service Animal Friendly: The Lower Trail welcomes service animals, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Accessible water fountains are strategically placed along the trail, designed to be easily reached by individuals using mobility aids.
10. Assistance Call Boxes: Emergency assistance call boxes are installed at regular intervals along the Lower Trail, providing a means for individuals to request help if needed.

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 potential hazards.
3. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes with good traction to prevent slips and falls on uneven terrain.
4. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
5. Insect Repellent: Use insect repellent to prevent bites from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects commonly found in outdoor areas.
6. Hydration: Carry an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated throughout your hike, especially during hot weather.
7. Trail Etiquette: Respect other trail users by yielding to faster hikers, keeping noise levels down, and following any posted rules or regulations.
8. Wildlife Awareness: Be cautious of wildlife encounters, maintain a safe distance, and avoid feeding or approaching animals.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a basic first aid kit, a map of the trail, a whistle, and a fully charged cell phone in case of emergencies.
10. Buddy System: Hike with a partner or inform someone about your planned route and estimated return time for added safety.
11. Stay on the Trail: Stick to designated paths to avoid getting lost, damaging the environment, or encountering potential hazards.
12. Be Mindful of Bicyclists: Share the trail with cyclists, be aware of their presence, and yield to them when necessary.
13. Watch Your Step: Pay attention to your surroundings, watch for loose rocks, tree roots, or other obstacles that may cause tripping or falling.
14. Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly, respecting the natural environment and leaving it as you found it.
15. Stay Informed: Stay updated on any safety advisories or warnings related to the Lower Trail and adjust your plans accordingly.

Conservation Notes

The Lower Trail, located in Pennsylvania, is considered to have a favorable conservation status. It is recognized as a protected area and is actively managed to preserve its natural resources and biodiversity. The trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a national organization that converts former railroad corridors into recreational trails, ensuring the preservation of these valuable green spaces.

Efforts have been made to maintain the ecological integrity of the Lower Trail. The trail is surrounded by diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and riparian areas, which support a wide range of plant and animal species. Conservation initiatives focus on protecting and restoring these habitats, as well as managing invasive species that may threaten the native flora and fauna.

The Lower Trail also serves as an important corridor for wildlife movement, allowing for the dispersal and migration of various species. This connectivity is crucial for maintaining healthy populations and genetic diversity. Conservationists work to ensure that the trail remains free from disturbances that could disrupt these ecological processes, such as excessive human activity or habitat fragmentation.

Overall, the conservation status of the Lower Trail is considered positive, with ongoing efforts to protect and enhance its natural values. By preserving this trail and its surrounding habitats, it provides opportunities for outdoor recreation while safeguarding the ecological integrity of the area.

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