Trail Review: Allegheny Portage Railroad (6 to 10 Trail)

Repost from a few years ago. At the time CJ was my four footed hiking partner. He loved exploring new trails with me. He is missed but I’m sure he’s enjoying hiking the Rainbow Bridge.

I continue to seek out new trails and places to explore in Pennsylvania. Today, CJ and I ventured off for our first hike on the Allegheny Portage Railroad, also known as the APRR. We hiked a portion of the 6 to 10 trail and will be returning soon to hike the Foot of Ten trail. The trail head begins at a parking location on Dry Run Road. This location is equipped with a few picnic tables and a bathroom before entering the trail.

The Allegheny Portage Railroad was converted to a National Park and turned into trails that make for some easy hiking the first 4.5 miles. The trail is wide, clean and covered in lime shale which also makes this a great biking path. It makes a gradual climb up the mountain along a ridge line with the mountain wall towering above you on the left and a fairly steep drop to your right. After the first 2.5 miles you cross over Old Rt. 22. Make sure to pay close attention as crossing this road can be a challenge. Drivers tend to speed in this area and the crossing is on a curve leaving on coming traffic not visible. The next 2.0 miles brings you to Muleshoe Bridge where the trail turns to the left and changes into a hiking trail only. The trail takes a steep climb up the mountain past Skew Arch Bridge and to the park’s visitor center located in Gallitzin at the US Rt 22 Exit.

551210_456447817804960_1341635613_nToday CJ and I only hiked the 4.5 miles in and then back out. I’ve opted to hike the more difficult trail on my own soon, thereby completing the whole trail. For now CJ and I are enjoying a well deserved afternoon of rest. 9 miles is what CJ & I hiked today. He led the whole time and never let up until the last 50 yards from the car where he stopped and looked at me as to say; “I can’t go on.” I picked him up and carried him the last steps to a shady spot where he laid down and quickly fell asleep for a short nap. He is a tried and true hiking partner and a faithful friend. We plan on returning to the APRR again soon to see what other adventures this trail holds for us. For now, today was the onset of fall colors and discovering historic ruins from the old railroad.

Plan your visit to the APRR

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site is located in southwestern Pennsylvania approximately 12 miles west of Altoona. Today’s park covers 1249 acres. The main unit contains the Summit Level Visitor Center, the historic Lemon House, Engine House #6 Exhibit Shelter, the Skew Arch Bridge, picnic area and hiking trails. The Staple Bend Tunnel unit is located approximately 4 miles east of Johnstown, PA.

The Portage Railroad traversed the Allegheny Mountains between Hollidaysburg and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, connecting the Eastern and Western Divisiions of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. The mountains represented a formidable obstacle in early transportation routes. The inclines and planes of the Allegheny Portage Railroad provided a unique engineering solution for transporting the canal boats across the mountains.

 Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS is located in Blair and Cambria Counties at the junction of the Appalachian Plateaus and Ridge and Valley Provinces in southwestern Pennsylvania. This area is characterized by high, rounded ridges and valleys divided by streams. The park extends linearly from the southeast facing escarpment that forms the eastern edge of the plateau region, known as the Allegheny Front, to the summit of the Cresson Ridge in the Allegheny Mountains.

3 thoughts on “Trail Review: Allegheny Portage Railroad (6 to 10 Trail)

  1. Wow – thanks for that, Brian – I can remember being impressed when reading about the old Allegheny Portage RR many years ago – tho’t that it was ingenious. I also remember seeing an old coach, which had belonged to the Huidekoper family of Meadville/Conneaut Lake, which had been in Ford’s museum at Greenfield Village. A sign by it said that it was the first coach to travel west over the Allegheny Mountains – no doubt via the Allegheny Portage Railroad !

    I also remember, in 1947, our wonderful old Riding Master at Linden Hall, Dr. Beck, taking us on a long ride and pointing out the white paint marks of the old long trail. When Dr. B. died, Time Magazine wrote a nice article on him, mentioning that he was a well-known ornithologist. A long-time professor at Franklin & Marshall, Dr. Beck only had one lower leg, but wore deerskin breeches to help keep him in the saddle, and always rode my favorite mount, Soxy, a gutsy little Morgan horse. Dr. B. had helped Dr. Stengal keep Linden Hall going thru the Depression years by teaching the riding classes Mon-Wed-Fri. while Mr. Badorf, President of the Badorf Shoe Co., taught the class on Tuesday and Thursday. They must have gotten a lot of good exercise and laughs taking us on jaunts around the countryside. At that time there was very little car traffic on the roads and we rode far and wide, sometimes to a riding ring Lowell Stengal owned by a cottage in the woods. My favorite ride was a fast gallop thru the sweet smelling blossoms of a big peach orchard which was in full bloom – top that for a charming memory that lingers even today. Mr. Badord had two nice big 16’ hunters named Big Ben and Big Bill, and it was a treat to just once be allowed to take them over the big jumps. I also remember riding in the big parade Lititz held to celebrate the end of the war in Europe. Held in the dark at night, it was an exciting experience. Old grads will remember some of those horses – Wing Commander, Forty-Six, Sox, Flicka, Linden Lady, Copper – 14 in all. What hours of challenges and delight they provided for us. I forget the name of the nervous Saddlebred who, before I learned to break their stride, or circle, to stop a runaway, ran all the way into town with me and crashed into the rear of a parked car just off Main St. I had had a black eye to wear to church the week before from when Louise Marshall had thrown a Vick Salve jar back to me over the high wooden divider between the beds in the dorm which had landed on my face. But after the big runaway, I had two black eyes to wear to church that Sunday, having landed on my face against the rear of some worthy citizen’s car. I must have looked a sight !

    After graduation from Allegheny College in ‘51, I went back to LH as Riding Master for the year that Edward was living in a cold tent in Korea, helping hold the fort against Communism. Tense times, those were – but great fun for us on horseback riding thru Pennsylvania’s beautiful Amish farmland. As an only daughter with two brothers, then on their way back from the fighting in the Pacific, I had always wanted a sister. At LH (1943-47), I found lots of sisters and thrived on it. Even when, up at 6:45, it was up and out on the Set-Up Blocks for serious exercise, Dr. Stengal’s Germanic background having a firm hold on things. And the tuition was only $800 ! I forget how much extra it was if you wanted to ride. Sweet times ! The sound of those hoofbeats still ring in my head.

    All the best – Mimi

  2. Way to go, CJ!:) It looks as if he’s a great hiking partner, and seems as if you care for him a lot. Once I took my sisters dachshund for a walk on some hiking trails and she couldn’t go that far. We hiked two miles one way, and I ended up having to carry her half the way back. Thanks for sharing about your hiking experience, I enjoyed reading it. Take care out there!

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