The Montour Trail is 55-mile multi-use trail that forms an arc around the city of Pittsburgh. As a part of the rails to trails system it follows the path of the Montour Railroad. Both the railroad and trail were named for the Montour creek the follows alongside their paths.
The massive trail began in 1989 when Stan Sattinger, an engineer, and Dino Angelici, a dentist, saw the potential in the Montour Railroad. Originally used to carry coal, the railroad had been abandoned since 1984.
The Montour Railroad was active from 1877 until 1914. During its peak in the 1930s the Montour Railroad served 27 mines and carried an estimated 7 million tons of coal annually.
The Montour Trail Committee (MTC) was formed by a group of bicyclists, runners, environmentalists and railroad enthusiasts who have a passion for seeing this trail succeed.
The Montour Trail was devised to repurpose the railroad. The rails to trails system is perfect for developing beginner level trails since railroads never exceed a 5 percent incline. The trail was connected to the Panhandle Trail, which extends 29 miles into West Virginia. It also connects to the Great Allegheny Passage, which runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., a trail that stretches for a whopping 150 miles.
Currently the Montour Trail is 46 miles in length from Moon Township near Coraopolis all of the way to Clairton. The trail is constructed of crushed limestone. All maintenance is performed by an impressively large group of volunteers who donate over 15,000 hours annually.
Features on the Montour Trail
- 960 feet long railroad trestle
- Reopened in 2003
- Spans over Noblestown Rd., Robinson Run, the Panhandle Trail and John’s Avenue in Washington County
- Findlay Township tunnel
- Cecil Township tunnel
- 623 feet
- 506 feet long railroad trestle over Library Rd.
West Peters Trail Area
- 2 mile section in Peters Township
- Holds 4 amazing sites:
- The Greer Tunnel
- Two bridges directly adjacent to the tunnel
- X1 Service crane from when the railroad was active
Four Branches of the Montour Trail
- Bethel: From Peters Township to Bethel Park
- Muse: Planned, undeveloped branch from Cecil Township to the town of Muse
- Westland: From Venice to the town of Westland
- Airport Connector: From Imperial to Pittsburgh International Airport
As Pittsburgh grows, the urban sprawl and topography of the city make walkways increasingly dangerous. With heavy traffic and lots of hills there are not many places to bike or run or even walk for recreation. That is where the Montour Trail Committee and their vision came into play. Safe pathways promote outdoor and physical activity that was lacking in the suburban communities where there may not be ample parks to visit.
Not only has this trail served as a recreational space for communities, it is also a source of revenue. Businesses are being opened along the trail in places that were not easily accessible before it was built.
One example of this is The Tandem Connection in Canonsburg, PA. Housed inside the old mine company store, this bike shop breathed new life into a century old building. Limited access to the store made the property obsolete until the Montour Trail was formed and two bike enthusiasts saw an opportunity to do what they love. Tandem Connection is a bike shop offering rentals and repairs but they are also a great stop for ice cream and their pulled pork sandwiches have developed a reputation all their own.
Get our your bike or lace up your sneakers and check out this gem today. Summer is the time to enjoy outdoor spaces, it is a rewarding way to get exercise.
Let us know what you think of the Montour Trail or share your favorite trail with us.
Trail Map: http://www.montourtrail.org/map/maps.asp
Trailheads and access areas: http://www.montourtrail.org/map/access.asp