Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 49.35 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.montcopa.org/753/Philadelphia-to-Valley-Forge-Bikeway

The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway holds a significant place in the history of Pennsylvania’s transportation and industrial development. The canal system was constructed in the early 19th century as a means to connect the two major cities of Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, facilitating the transportation of goods and people across the state. The idea of a canal system was first proposed in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1820s that construction began.

The construction of the canal began in Pittsburgh in 1826 and reached Harrisburg by 1834, covering a distance of approximately 400 miles. The canal was a remarkable engineering feat for its time, utilizing a series of locks, aqueducts, and reservoirs to navigate the challenging terrain of the Allegheny Mountains. The canal system played a crucial role in the economic growth of Pennsylvania, allowing for the efficient transportation of coal, iron, and other natural resources from the western part of the state to the industrial centers in the east.

However, the canal’s success was short-lived. With the advent of the railroad in the mid-19th century, the canal system quickly became obsolete. Railways offered faster and more efficient transportation, leading to the decline of the canal industry. By the late 19th century, the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway was abandoned and fell into disrepair.

Today, the remnants of the canal system have been transformed into the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway, a recreational trail that stretches across the state. The greenway provides a unique opportunity for visitors to explore Pennsylvania’s industrial past and appreciate the engineering marvels of the canal system. It serves as a reminder of the important role that canals played in shaping the state’s history and economy during the early years of industrialization.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Point State Park, Pittsburgh
2. Homestead Waterfront, Homestead
3. McKeesport Marina, McKeesport
4. Boston Trailhead, Boston
5. Buena Vista Trailhead, Buena Vista
6. Sutersville Trailhead, Sutersville
7. West Newton Trailhead, West Newton
8. Cedar Creek Park, Rostraver Township
9. Smithton Trailhead, Smithton
10. Whitsett Trailhead, Whitsett
11. Layton Trailhead, Layton
12. Dawson Trailhead, Dawson
13. Connellsville Trailhead, Connellsville
14. Ohiopyle State Park, Ohiopyle
15. Confluence Trailhead, Confluence
16. Rockwood Trailhead, Rockwood
17. Garrett Trailhead, Garrett
18. Meyersdale Trailhead, Meyersdale
19. Frostburg Trailhead, Frostburg
20. Cumberland Trailhead, Cumberland
21. Hancock Trailhead, Hancock
22. Williamsport Trailhead, Williamsport
23. Lock Haven Trailhead, Lock Haven
24. Mill Hall Trailhead, Mill Hall
25. Jersey Shore Trailhead, Jersey Shore
26. Milton Trailhead, Milton
27. Lewisburg Trailhead, Lewisburg
28. Mifflinburg Trailhead, Mifflinburg
29. New Berlin Trailhead, New Berlin
30. Mifflin Trailhead, Mifflin
31. Newport Trailhead, Newport
32. Duncannon Trailhead, Duncannon
33. Marysville Trailhead, Marysville
34. Harrisburg Trailhead, Harrisburg

Transportation Available

1. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service with routes connecting Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
2. Greyhound – Intercity bus service offering transportation between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
3. Megabus – Low-cost intercity bus service operating between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
4. Uber – Ride-hailing service providing convenient transportation options in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg area.
5. Lyft – On-demand ride service offering transportation solutions in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg region.
6. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs along the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.
7. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental agency with multiple locations in both Pittsburgh and Harrisburg for independent travel.
8. Zipcar – Car-sharing service allowing flexible access to vehicles in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg area.
9. BikePGH – Non-profit organization promoting biking as a transportation option, offering bike rentals and resources for cyclists.
10. Pennsylvania Amish Country Tours – Guided tours showcasing the Amish lifestyle and attractions in the Harrisburg area.


The amenities available at the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway may vary depending on the specific section or location along the trail. However, some common amenities that can be found along the greenway include:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available, either at trailheads or along the route.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas or lots at various trailheads along the greenway, providing convenient access for trail users.

3. Camping Sites: Some sections of the greenway may offer camping sites or designated areas for overnight stays. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for specific camping regulations and availability.

4. Picnic Areas: There may be designated picnic areas along the trail, providing a scenic spot for trail users to rest, eat, and enjoy the surroundings.

5. Water Fountains: Some sections of the greenway may have water fountains or hydration stations available for trail users to refill their water bottles.

6. Bike Repair Stations: In certain areas, there might be bike repair stations equipped with tools and air pumps to assist cyclists with minor repairs or maintenance.

7. Informational Signage: Along the trail, you may find informational signage providing details about the history, ecology, and points of interest along the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.

It is recommended to check with local authorities, trail management, or official websites for the most up-to-date information on amenities available at specific locations along the greenway.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Omni William Penn Hotel (Pittsburgh) – Historic hotel offering elegant rooms and modern amenities.
– Hampton Inn & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown (Pittsburgh) – Comfortable hotel with free breakfast and a fitness center.
– Hilton Harrisburg (Harrisburg) – Upscale hotel featuring a restaurant, indoor pool, and fitness center.

2. Food Services:
– Primanti Bros. (Pittsburgh) – Iconic sandwich shop known for its piled-high sandwiches with fries and coleslaw.
– The Porch at Schenley (Pittsburgh) – Casual American eatery with outdoor seating and scenic views of Schenley Park.
– Café 1500 (Harrisburg) – Cozy café serving American fare, craft cocktails, and weekend brunch.

3. Emergency Services:
– UPMC Mercy Hospital (Pittsburgh) – Acute care hospital providing a wide range of medical services.
– UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg (Harrisburg) – Comprehensive medical center offering emergency care and various specialties.
– Harrisburg Police Department (Harrisburg) – Local law enforcement agency ensuring public safety.

Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway Difficulty Notes

The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway presents a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning approximately 320 miles, this historic trail offers a diverse range of terrains and landscapes, making it suitable for hikers, bikers, and even horseback riders. While some sections of the trail are relatively flat and easy to navigate, others may present more challenging inclines and uneven surfaces. Additionally, the length of the trail requires a certain level of endurance and stamina, making it more suitable for experienced adventurers or those seeking a multi-day excursion. However, with proper preparation and a reasonable level of fitness, the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway offers a rewarding and memorable outdoor experience.

Features And Attractions

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Usage Guidelines

– Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
– Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
– Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– Camping or overnight stays are not allowed along the trail.
– Open fires and fireworks are prohibited.
– Hunting or trapping is not allowed on the trail.
– Fishing is permitted in designated areas only, following state fishing regulations.
– Swimming or wading in the canal is not allowed.
– Littering is strictly prohibited.
– Alcohol consumption is not permitted on the trail.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway is a scenic and historic trail that stretches approximately 320 miles across Pennsylvania. This trail follows the path of the historic Main Line Canal, which was once a vital transportation route in the 19th century. When planning a visit to the Main Line Canal Greenway, it is important to consider the best times of the year to visit and any seasonal closures that may affect your trip.

One of the best times to visit the Main Line Canal Greenway is during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant blooms and lush greenery, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and birdwatching. The fall season offers a stunning display of colorful foliage, making it an ideal time for leisurely walks or bike rides along the trail. These seasons also provide comfortable temperatures, making outdoor activities more enjoyable.

It is worth noting that some sections of the Main Line Canal Greenway may have seasonal closures or restrictions. During the winter months, certain portions of the trail may be closed due to inclement weather or maintenance work. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail organizations for any updates or closures before planning your visit. Additionally, some amenities along the trail, such as visitor centers or restrooms, may have limited operating hours or be closed during certain times of the year. It is recommended to plan accordingly and bring necessary supplies, especially if visiting during off-peak seasons.

Overall, the best times to visit the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant and the scenery is at its most beautiful. However, it is important to stay informed about any seasonal closures or restrictions that may affect your visit. With proper planning, visitors can enjoy the rich history, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities that the Main Line Canal Greenway has to offer.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trail: The main trail of the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway is wheelchair accessible, providing a smooth and level surface for individuals with mobility challenges.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at various trailheads along the Greenway, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and other ADA-compliant features are available at select trailheads and facilities along the Greenway.
4. Accessible Picnic Areas: Wheelchair accessible picnic areas with accessible tables and seating are provided at certain locations along the Greenway, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining.
5. Accessible Viewing Areas: Scenic viewpoints and overlooks along the Greenway are designed to be accessible, providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
6. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays along the Greenway are designed to be accessible, featuring braille, large print, and tactile elements for individuals with visual impairments.
7. Accessible Trailhead Facilities: Trailhead facilities, including visitor centers and information kiosks, are designed to be accessible, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can easily access important information and resources.
8. Accessible Wayfinding: Clear signage and wayfinding systems are in place along the Greenway, designed to be accessible for individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair accessible water fountains are available at select locations along the Greenway, providing hydration options for individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Transportation Options: The Greenway works in collaboration with local transportation authorities to provide accessible transportation options, ensuring individuals with disabilities can easily access the trail and its amenities.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to ensure your safety and avoid straying into potentially hazardous areas.
2. Be aware of wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife and respect their space by observing from a safe distance.
3. Carry a map and compass: Familiarize yourself with the route and have navigation tools handy in case you need to find your way.
4. Stay hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated during your journey, especially on hot days.
5. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy footwear suitable for walking or biking on the trail.
6. Use sunscreen and insect repellent: Protect yourself from sunburn and insect bites by applying sunscreen and using repellent as needed.
7. Be cautious near water: Exercise caution when near canals, rivers, or other bodies of water, especially if you are not a strong swimmer.
8. Watch for uneven terrain: Be mindful of potential tripping hazards or uneven surfaces along the trail.
9. Share the trail: Be considerate of other trail users, whether they are walkers, cyclists, or equestrians, and follow any posted guidelines for sharing the path.
10. Carry a cell phone: Have a fully charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies or to report any safety concerns.
11. Travel in groups: Whenever possible, travel with a companion or in a group for added safety.
12. Be prepared for weather changes: Check the weather forecast before your trip and bring appropriate gear for rain, wind, or sudden temperature drops.
13. Respect private property: Stay on public land and respect any signs indicating private property boundaries.
14. Report any suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious behavior or encounter any safety concerns, report them to the appropriate authorities.
15. Follow all rules and regulations: Observe any posted rules and regulations along the trail to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Conservation Notes

The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway is a significant conservation area in Pennsylvania, encompassing a diverse range of ecosystems and habitats. The conservation status of this greenway is of utmost importance due to its ecological significance and the need to protect its natural resources.

The greenway is home to several rare and endangered plant and animal species, making it a critical area for biodiversity conservation. Efforts are being made to preserve and restore the natural habitats within the greenway, including wetlands, forests, and riparian zones. These habitats provide essential breeding grounds, food sources, and shelter for a variety of wildlife, contributing to the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem.

Conservation initiatives within the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway focus on maintaining and enhancing the quality of water resources. This includes monitoring water quality, managing stormwater runoff, and implementing measures to prevent pollution and erosion. Protecting the waterways within the greenway is crucial not only for the survival of aquatic species but also for the surrounding terrestrial ecosystems that rely on clean water for their sustenance.

In addition to biodiversity and water conservation, efforts are also being made to manage and mitigate the impact of human activities within the greenway. This involves promoting sustainable land use practices, such as responsible recreational activities and limiting development in sensitive areas. By balancing human needs with the preservation of natural resources, the conservation status of the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway can be maintained, ensuring its long-term ecological integrity.

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