Allegheny River & Samuel Justus Trails

Kennerdell Tunnel The trail is 32 miles of flat, smooth, asphalt surface from Oil City to Emlenton. Through Sunny Slope, 14 miles south of Franklin, take the dirt road about a 1/2 mile until it reconnects with the paved trail. Bordered on the west by the Allegheny River and on the east mostly by woodland, the 8-foot wide paved surface built on an old railroad grade is parallel to a dirt access road suitable for horses. The trail is marked through Oil City to the north to the intersection of Seneca Street and Route 8. To the south, the trail is complete through the old Quaker State Refinery in Emlenton and ends at the parking lot at the edge of town.

There are two railroad tunnels on the ART. The Kennerdell Tunnel, 3350' long, is 15 miles south of Franklin and the Rockland Tunnel, 2868' long, is 21 miles south of Franklin. The trail is paved through the tunnels and three rows of reflectors mark the trail edges and center. Both tunnels are very dark. Bring a light!

Three miles farther downriver from Emlenton is the lovely old railroad town of Foxburg. The railroad grade is unimproved but can be ridden on a mountain bike, and the Foxburg Inn on the river is worth the ride. On the southern end of Foxburg, the trail continues about 4 miles to Parker's Landing. It crosses the Clarion River as it comes into the Allegheny. river is worth the ride.

Picnic Area 1/2 mile South of Oil City Facilities
Picnic tables are located 1/2 mile south of Oil City, at the Franklin trailhead, and 4 miles south of Franklin. Benches with river views are at numerous locations along the trail. Full service repair is available at the Franklin trailhead. A number of eating and lodging facilities are available within biking distance of the Oil City, Franklin, and Emlenton trailheads. Two primitive campsites are located on the trail.
Special Features
The natural beauty of the river and woodland is the greatest feature of this trail. In 1992, the portion of the Allegheny River from Franklin to Emlenton was included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system.
River Ridge Gate
Artifacts from the oil boom of the late 1800's are apparent. About midway between Franklin and Oil City, is the stately River Ridge mansion and farm of the late US Senator Joseph P. Sibley who acquired a considerable fortune from the early oil industry. Oil well locations can be seen all along the river and trail - some abandoned for 100 years or more. John Wilkes Booth was part owner of an unsuccessful 1864 well which was one mile south of Franklin very near the trail.
Belmar Bridge
The spectacular Belmar Bridge over the Allegheny River was built in 1907 as part of a railroad built by local oil man Charles Miller and John D. Rockefeller intended to connect New York with Chicago. Ultimately, it transported much of the coal from Clarion County to Ashtabula on Lake Erie. Be sure to climb the stairs to see the river valley from the bridge.
Indian God Rock Approximately 8.5 miles south of Franklin is a reminder of the use of the river by Native Americans. A set of over 50 carvings dating between 1200 and 1750 AD were made on a large rock at the river's edge. Known as Indian God Rock, this rock is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be easily seen from the trail. An observation deck marks the location.

The Allegheny River and Justus Trails can be accessed from several trailheads:
  • Oil City - From PA Route 8, cross the Allegheny River at the Petroleum Street Bridge (the first bridge if entering from the south, the third if entering from the north) and make a right turn at the second stop light onto West First Street. The trailhead entrance is 1.6 miles from this light, adjacent to the GPU Building, across from Venango Campus of Clarion University. Parking is 1/4 mile from the street on a tar-and-chipped surface. Look for the yellow gate at the trailhead. The portion of this trail from Oil City to Franklin is designated the Samuel Justus Recreational Trail. The trail is marked through Oil City and can be accessed from a number of Oil City parking lots on the trail. GPS N 41 24.50 W 79 43.89
  • Franklin - at the east end of the 8th Street Bridge over the Allegheny River on PA Route 322. There is easy bike access to downtown Franklin. GPS N 41 23.200 W 79 49.050
    There is a second lot 1 - 1/2 miles east on Route, 322, at the base of Victory Heights Hill. GPS N 41 22.400 W 79 48.067
  • Brandon - (a relatively remote access) From Franklin or Clarion, follow PA Route 322 to Cranberry. At the intersection with Route 257 at the Cranberry Mall, turn onto the Rockland Road (right if coming from Franklin) and drive to the Coal City Road (look for the sign). Follow this road to the river and park at the end of the road. The trail is paved in both directions. GPS N 41 18.935 W 79 51.154
  • Rockland Station - Follow the instruction to the Brandon trailhead above, but do not turn at the Coal City Road. Continue on the Rockland Road for about 3 miles to Pittsville. Turn right on the Rockland Station Road and follow it to the trail. Parking is at the location of the old Rockland Railroad Station near the north end of the Rockland Tunnel. A remote access point is at Dotter, which is upriver three miles off of Dotter Road. GPS N 41 13.910 W 79 45.117
  • Emlenton - At the northern end of Main Street, the trailhead is straight ahead through the parking area. Emlenton can be reached from exit 42 on Interstate 80. Come toward town, down the hill and cross the bridge into Emlenton. Turn left at the end of the bridge and continue to the trailhead. GPS N 41 10.705 W 79 42.95
  • Foxburg - About 4 miles south of Emlenton on Rt. 268, cross the river on Rt. 58 then right into the parking area for the restaurants and shops. The trail begins past the restaurant at the southern end of the parking lot. GPS N 41 8.367 W 79 40.700
  • Parker - Follow Rt. 268 south from Foxburg 2.5 miles. Cross the river on RT. 368. Just beyond the bridge, there is a dirt road on the left that takes you to a parking area under the bridge. GPS N 41 6.09 W 79 40.667