Staple Bend Tunnel Trail In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 2.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Gravel.
  • Managed By: National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail holds significant historical importance as it is recognized as the first railroad tunnel constructed in the United States. Located in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the tunnel was built as part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, a transportation system that operated from 1834 to 1854. The trail follows the path of this historic railroad, offering visitors a glimpse into the region’s rich industrial past.

Construction of the Staple Bend Tunnel began in 1831 and was completed in 1833. The tunnel was designed by engineer Sylvester Welch and was a remarkable engineering feat for its time. It measures approximately 900 feet in length and was carved through solid rock, allowing trains to pass through the Allegheny Mountains. The tunnel’s name, “Staple Bend,” is derived from a nearby bend in the Conemaugh River.

The Allegheny Portage Railroad, including the Staple Bend Tunnel, played a crucial role in connecting the eastern and western parts of the United States. Prior to its construction, goods and passengers had to be transported over the mountains by arduous wagon journeys. The railroad system, with its series of inclined planes and canals, provided a more efficient and reliable means of transportation. The Staple Bend Tunnel, in particular, allowed trains to bypass the steep inclines and treacherous terrain, making it a vital link in the transportation network. Today, the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail serves as a reminder of this pioneering era in American transportation history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The major access points or trailheads along the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail are:

1. Staple Bend Tunnel Trailhead: This is the main trailhead located at the eastern end of the trail. It provides parking facilities and access to the trail.

2. Mineral Point Trailhead: Located near Mineral Point, this trailhead offers parking facilities and access to the trail. It is situated approximately halfway along the trail.

3. Ehrenfeld Trailhead: Situated near Ehrenfeld, this trailhead provides parking facilities and access to the trail. It is located towards the western end of the trail.

4. South Fork Trailhead: This trailhead is located near South Fork and offers parking facilities and access to the trail. It is situated towards the western end of the trail.

These are the major access points or trailheads along the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with drivers.
3. Taxi – Traditional taxi service providing transportation.
4. Bus – Public transportation service with scheduled routes.
5. Rental Car – Car rental service for self-driven transportation.
6. Bike Rental – Bicycle rental service for exploring the area.
7. Shuttle Service – Shared transportation service with designated pick-up and drop-off locations.
8. Train – Railway service for longer-distance travel.
9. Airport Shuttle – Shuttle service to and from the airport.
10. Limousine Service – Luxury transportation service for special occasions.


The amenities available at the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the trailhead or nearby.

2. Parking: There is parking available at the trailhead or designated parking areas.

3. Camping Sites: There are no camping sites directly on the trail, but there may be nearby campgrounds or camping options in the surrounding area.

4. Picnic Areas: There are picnic areas available along the trail where visitors can stop and have a picnic.

5. Benches: There are benches along the trail where visitors can rest and enjoy the surroundings.

6. Interpretive Signage: The trail features interpretive signage that provides information about the history and significance of the Staple Bend Tunnel.

7. Scenic Views: The trail offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape, including the tunnel and nearby river.

8. Accessibility: The trail is accessible for hikers, walkers, and bikers of various abilities.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change, so it is always a good idea to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Holiday Inn Express & Suites Johnstown: Comfortable hotel with modern amenities located in Johnstown, PA.
– Quality Inn & Suites: Affordable hotel offering basic accommodations in Johnstown, PA.
– Hampton Inn Johnstown: Well-known hotel chain providing comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast in Johnstown, PA.

2. Food Services:
– The Boulevard Grill: Casual American restaurant offering a variety of dishes in Johnstown, PA.
– The Phoenix Tavern: Cozy pub serving classic pub fare and drinks in Johnstown, PA.
– The Bistro at Green Gables: Upscale restaurant offering a diverse menu in Jennerstown, PA.

3. Emergency Services:
– Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center: Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care in Johnstown, PA.
– Johnstown Police Department: Local law enforcement agency serving the community of Johnstown, PA.
– Jennerstown Volunteer Fire Department: Fire department offering emergency response services in Jennerstown, PA.

Staple Bend Tunnel Trail Difficulty Notes

The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and bikers. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long and features a mix of flat sections and gentle inclines, making it suitable for individuals of various fitness levels. While there are some rocky areas and uneven terrain, the trail is well-maintained and easily navigable. The highlight of the trail is the historic Staple Bend Tunnel, which adds an interesting element to the hike. Overall, the difficulty level of the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is manageable for most outdoor enthusiasts, providing a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

Features And Attractions

The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is located in Pennsylvania and offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Staple Bend Tunnel: The highlight of the trail is the Staple Bend Tunnel itself, which is the oldest railroad tunnel in the United States. It was completed in 1834 and played a significant role in the transportation of coal during the early 19th century.

2. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site: This site is adjacent to the trail and provides a glimpse into the historic transportation system that connected the Eastern seaboard with the Midwest. Visitors can explore the remains of the inclined plane and learn about the innovative engineering of the time.

3. Staple Bend Viaduct: This impressive stone viaduct is located near the trail and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It was built in the mid-19th century and served as a crucial link in the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal system.

4. Conemaugh River: The trail follows the scenic Conemaugh River for a portion of its route, providing beautiful views of the water and surrounding nature. It is a great spot for fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

5. Wildlife Viewing: The trail passes through diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and meadows, making it an excellent location for wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for various bird species, deer, foxes, and other animals that call this area home.

6. Fall Foliage: During the autumn season, the trail offers breathtaking views of vibrant fall foliage. The changing colors of the trees create a picturesque setting that attracts many visitors.

7. Historic Markers: Along the trail, you will find several historic markers that provide information about the area’s rich history, including the significance of the Staple Bend Tunnel and the transportation systems of the past.

8. Picnic Areas: The trail features designated picnic areas where visitors can take a break, enjoy a meal, and soak in the natural surroundings. These spots are perfect for a family outing or a peaceful lunch in nature.

Overall, the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail offers a combination of historical significance, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
3. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during winter months due to weather conditions.
4. Camping and overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
5. Hunting and fishing are prohibited on the trail.
6. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please carry out any trash and dispose of it properly.
7. Fires and open flames are not allowed on the trail.
8. Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and not venture off-trail.
9. Respect the natural environment and wildlife. Do not disturb or harm any plants or animals.
10. Visitors are responsible for their own safety and should exercise caution while on the trail.
11. Please be considerate of other trail users and maintain a reasonable noise level.
12. Alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted on the trail.
13. Use of drones or other aerial devices is not allowed without prior permission.
14. Commercial activities or events require prior authorization from the trail management.
15. Any damage or maintenance issues should be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Seasonal Information

The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail, located in Pennsylvania, offers a unique and historical experience for visitors. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as the surrounding trees and flowers bloom. The weather is usually mild, making it perfect for hiking and exploring the area. Fall is equally beautiful, with the foliage transforming into a stunning array of red, orange, and yellow hues. The crisp air and cooler temperatures create a pleasant atmosphere for outdoor activities.

It is important to note that the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. Due to the potential for inclement weather and hazardous conditions, the trail is closed from December through February. This closure ensures the safety of visitors and prevents any accidents or injuries that may occur during this time. It is advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact the local authorities for the most up-to-date information regarding closures and trail conditions.

Despite the seasonal closures, the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail remains a popular destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The trail offers a glimpse into the past, as it follows the path of the first railroad tunnel built in the United States. Visitors can explore the historic tunnel, which played a significant role in the transportation of goods and people during the 19th century. The surrounding landscape provides a picturesque backdrop, with the Conemaugh River flowing nearby and the lush greenery of the surrounding forests. Whether you visit in the spring or fall, the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail promises a memorable experience filled with natural beauty and historical significance.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is wheelchair accessible, providing a smooth and level path for individuals with mobility challenges to explore the historic tunnel and surrounding area.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for visitors with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and ample space for wheelchair maneuverability are provided at the trailhead, ensuring comfort and convenience for all visitors.
4. Wheelchair-Friendly Trail Surface: The trail features a firm and stable surface, suitable for wheelchair users, allowing them to navigate the trail with ease.
5. Handrails and Guardrails: The trail is equipped with sturdy handrails and guardrails at appropriate locations, providing additional support and safety for individuals with mobility limitations.
6. Braille and Tactile Signage: Informational signage along the trail includes Braille and tactile elements, ensuring accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.
7. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available for visitors with visual impairments, providing descriptive narration and information about the trail’s history and points of interest.
8. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome on the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to have the necessary support and companionship during their visit.
9. Benches and Rest Areas: The trail offers strategically placed benches and rest areas, providing opportunities for individuals with mobility challenges to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
10. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options are available, allowing visitors with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining and socializing.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is a relatively easy, flat trail suitable for all skill levels.
2. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long, providing a moderate-length hike or bike ride.
3. Tunnel Safety: Exercise caution when entering the tunnel, as it can be dark and slippery inside.
4. Flashlights Recommended: Bring a flashlight or headlamp to navigate through the tunnel safely.
5. Trail Surface: The trail surface is mostly crushed limestone, which can be uneven in some areas.
6. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots to ensure stability and protect your feet.
7. Weather Considerations: Check the weather forecast before visiting and dress accordingly, as the trail can become muddy after rain.
8. Insect Repellent: Apply insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes and ticks, especially during warmer months.
9. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, as parts of the trail are exposed.
10. Water and Snacks: Carry an adequate supply of water and snacks, as there are no facilities along the trail.
11. Trail Etiquette: Be respectful of other trail users, yield to faster-moving individuals, and keep pets on a leash.
12. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a fully charged cell phone and inform someone of your plans before embarking on the trail.
13. Wildlife Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife encountered along the trail.
14. Trail Maintenance: Stay on designated paths and report any trail damage or hazards to the appropriate authorities.
15. Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and leave the trail as you found it, respecting the natural environment.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is considered to be well-preserved and protected. As part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, the trail is managed by the National Park Service, ensuring its conservation and maintenance. The site is recognized for its historical significance as the first railroad tunnel built in the United States, and efforts have been made to preserve its integrity and authenticity.

The conservation efforts for the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail include regular monitoring and maintenance of the trail and its surrounding environment. The National Park Service conducts routine inspections to ensure the trail remains safe and accessible for visitors while minimizing any negative impact on the natural habitat. Additionally, measures are taken to protect the historical structures and artifacts along the trail, such as the tunnel itself and the remnants of the former railroad system.

Conservation initiatives also focus on preserving the natural landscape surrounding the trail. The area is home to diverse plant and animal species, and efforts are made to maintain the ecological balance and protect the biodiversity. This includes managing invasive species, controlling erosion, and promoting sustainable practices to minimize human impact on the environment.

Overall, the conservation status of the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is considered to be in good condition, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the National Park Service and other stakeholders involved in its preservation. The trail continues to provide visitors with a unique historical and natural experience while ensuring the long-term protection of its cultural and ecological significance.

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