There are lots of trails in the southeastern corner of the Allegheny National Forest, all close to Ridgway which has lodging, groceries, a bike shop and even a brewery. These are a few of our favorites.
Located about 8 1/2 miles west of Ridgway on Laurel Mill Rd (or about 4 1/2 miles past the Laurel Mill Trails), this area has two loop trails with interpretive signs. One loop is 1 mile long and it connects to the second loop which is 2.1 miles long. There is a vault toilet and the Forest Service will be replacing the information kiosk which was destroyed by vandals.
The area is open for hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Bicycles, pack animals, etc are not permitted.
There is a pipeline right of way which crosses the trails and if you don't have a map it's easy to mistake that area for a nice wide trail, but it's not. Look for the white trail blazes and you'll be able to follow the trail system. There are a number of wooden boardwalks and they are slippery so use caution if they are wet. Some of the trails can be muddy or have water on them so waterproof footwear is suggested.
The wider trails and pipeline right of way are great for cross country skiing. While they are not groomed they are skiied often enough that you can usually find that someone has set tracks. If in doubt check our Facebook page for the latest trail conditions.
The trails are currently maintained by the Forest Service, however they have indicated that they may eliminate the toilet in the future and might even close the area. We would like to adopt this area in the future so that it can be saved, however at this time we don't have enough resources to maintain it.
Located about 10 miles north of Ridgway on SR 948 (Montmorenci Rd), this area has three loops totaling 7.7 miles. It is also the trailhead for the 5.6 mile Mill Creek Trail which runs to the Twin Lakes Trail and Twin Lakes Recreation Area. There is a vault toilet and information kiosk.
The area is open for hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Pack animals, etc are not permitted on the trails. Bicycles are permitted on the Mill Creek Trail, however, it is an old railroad grade and the ties are still present in some sections.
The trails are hilly and often have long slopes. Challenger Loop has long very steep hills and is quite a challenge to ski. The other trails will have hills, but these are usually short followed by long gentle slopes.
The Forest Service has indicated that they will try to groom the trails as time allows, but even if they don't make it out the trails see enough use that there are often tracks set.
With a trailhead in downtown Ridgway, the trail runs 18 miles south to Brockway. It is built on a former railroad grade which ran along the Clarion River and Toby Creek. It has a fine crushed gravel surface and is relatively flat except for one hill a mile from Ridgway. The trail crosses a minor road a mile from Ridgway and shares a road for 750 feet about 2 1/2 miles from Ridgway.
The trail is open for biking, hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It is not groomed in the winter. 16 miles of the trail are on State Gamelands and all their regulations apply which means E-bikes are prohibited.
The trail is maintained by the Tricounty Rails to Trails Association, a volunteer group. They also maintain two other trails in the region, both south of Brockway.