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Ghost Town Trail

PA Rail-to-Trails

Rusty River - The bright red Blacklick Creek gets its color from coal mine acid drainage.

The 30 mile long Ghost Town Trail is a wonderful example of extremes. This excellent trail is located in west central Pennsylvania just a few miles north of Johnstown. The route meanders through the peaceful Blacklick Creek valley, passing the remains of several abandoned mines and "ghost" towns.

The trail surface, consisting of fine crushed limestone, is in excellent condition. The western 10 miles is quite flat, while the eastern 10 miles has a long gradual climb up to the top of a mountain. The Rexis Branch trail, which adds about 10 miles to your trip, now extends north to Route 422, thanks to a recently opened bridge.

The trail begins in tiny Dilltown, PA, just a mile off route 22. Dilltown consists of about ten homes and a country store, but they have invested a great deal in the trail. There is a nice picnic area and ample parking available at the trail head.

Map of Route

Passing one of the "Chernobyl" zones.

At first this appears to be your run of the mill rail trail project, that is until you get your first glimpse of the bright red Blacklick Creek. The creek's strange color is due to acid drainage from local coal mines. Every few miles, the trail momentarily leaves the lush green surroundings and enters one of the "ecological disaster areas" created by long since abandoned mines. I found it amazing that even after being abandoned for decades, there is hardly a weed in sight.

Decending the trail's scenic west end.

After passing the halfway point near the town of Vintondale (and its historic Furnace), the flat trail and periodic Chernobyl zones are a thing of the past. Here, the trail begins the long climb up to the town of Nanty Glo, PA. The forest becomes thicker and the bright red creekbecomes a clear mountain stream with rapids and waterfalls.

The trail terminates behind the Nanty Glo Fire Station. There are couple of places to eat in town, including the small diner across from the Fire Station. After lunch, you can enjoy the long downhill descent back to Dilltown.

Directions from Washington

    Mile   0 - Take I-270 North from I-495
    Mile  33 - I-70 West to Breezewood, PA (0:33)
    Mile 109 - Take PA Turnpike West (1:49)
    Mile 127 - Exit 11, US 220 North (2:07)
    Mile 156 - US 22 West (2:36)
    Mile 191 - SR 403 NE 191 (3:18)
    Mile 192 - Finish - Dilltown, PA


  • Dillweed B&B, Dilltown - Phone: 814-446-6465
  • Red Mill Resort Cottage, Redmill. Located just off the Rexis Branch. Phone: 814-749-9192 E-Mail: Joe Gordon
  • Comfort Inn, Ebensburg - 14 Miles East of Dilltown on US 22 - Phone: 814-472-6100
  • Comfort Inn, Blairsville - 13 Miles West of Dilltown on US 22 - Phone: 412-459-7100

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