Outdoor Recreation on Rte 422
From hiking to biking to bird watching and fishing, try out the many trails, state parks and lakes and rivers that are accessible from Route 422.
Crossing over the Ohio/Pennsylvania border arriving into Lawrence County, the Fireworks Capital of America, starts off a number of recreational opportunities along Route 422. The first stop is the West Park Nature Center, a wildlife sanctuary containing blue bird nesting boxes, an arboretum and a one mile hiking trail with an observation deck overlooking the wetlands. West Park is also the home to the Park Harbor Trail, a two-mile single track mountain bike/cross country running/hiking trail that opened to the public in 2010.
Further along Route 422 is McConnell’s Mill State Park, home to the 930-acre Slippery Rock Gorge, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. The Slipper Rock Gorge Trail is 6.2 mile trail follows a steep-walled ravine with a boulder-packed bottom left behind by the draining of ancient glacial lakes. At the bottom of the gorge, don’t forget to stop and tour the old gristmill built in the 1800’s demonstrating how waterpower ground grains into flour in the days before modern electricity-powered mills. In addition, paddling and fishing are available on the Slippery Rock Creek. Only experienced paddlers with the proper equipment are encouraged to “run” the river. Fishing is permitted anywhere along Slippery Rock Creek with the exception of the dam structures. The best fishing is for trout and bass; trout are stocked several times throughout the season. Catch and release fly fishing is also available in an area by the Armstrong Bridge. For the more adventurous, two climbing and rappelling areas are available to properly equipped and experienced climbers.
McConnell’s Mill Covered Bridge, one of two covered bridges in Lawrence County, is a registered National Historic Landmark.
Slippery Rock Gorge connects to the famous North Country National Scenic Trail for approximately 15 miles before heading into Moraine State Park in Butler County. Here you will find the Jennings Environmental Education Center which is part of the 16, 725 acre park boasting a 3,225 acre Lake Arthur with two beaches.
Glacier Ridge Trail, one of the most difficult trails, offers spectacular views of Lake Arthur and is also designated as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Other trails such as Five Points Trail and Sunken Garden trail range from easy to moderate.
An abundance of bird species can be found among the prairie and woodlands at Jennings Environmental Education Center. Goldfinches, song and field sparrows, swallows, bluebirds, flycatchers and woodcocks are among the many birds that can be spotted throughout the Center’s 300 acres. Todd Sanctuary, western Pennsylvania’s first reserve, is part of the Buffalo Creek Valley Important Bird Area, one of only 80 designated areas in the state.
Keep heading east into Armstrong County, Pennsylvania and once again run into 18 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail connecting to Armstrong County’s Baker Trail. This primitive 141 mile hiking trail extends from Southern Armstrong County to the Allegheny National Forest.
The Armstrong Trail located along the eastern shore of the Allegheny River is a 44 mile hiking and biking trail which traverses from rough rocky railroad trail surface to 16 miles of smooth blacktop or crushed stone surface for walking, biking, bird watching, wild flower viewing, railroad history buffs and even rollerblading. Don’t forget to stroll up Cowanshannock Trail, spurring off of the Armstrong Trail, to visit one of the county’s best kept secrets…Buttermilk Falls!
If mountain biking is your thing, head over to Roaring Run Recreation Area, in Apollo, Pennsylvania with 15 miles of trails suitable for all levels including persons with disabilities. This area includes two premier surfaced trails, Roaring Run Trail and Rock Furnace Trail, as well as miles of mountain biking trails of differing difficulty. The Roaring Run Trail is a combination of hard packed limestone and single track. While on this trail you will see the remains of canal locks and piers for the bridge that carried the canal towpath. The Rock Furnace Trail joins Roaring Run Trail at the 1.5 mile mark and passes along numerous small waterfalls and huge rocks along the Roaring Run Valley.
Currently in development along the Armstrong-Clarion county line, is the Redbank Trail where tunnels, bridges and creeks greet visitors as you wind along Redbank Creek and the border of Armstrong County. On each of these trails you’re sure to find a canoe/kayak launch to accommodate your desire for water adventures!
Coming soon…the Armstrong GeoTrail with are over 429 geocaches in the Kittanning, PA zip code 16201!
For more biking, keep heading east crossing over into Indiana County, Pennsylvania, home of the premier Ghost Town Trail which extends from Black Lick to Ebensburg, Pennsylvania for a total of 32 miles. The Ghost Town Trail connects to the Hoodlebug Trail at Saylor Park, offering a total of 42 miles of continuous riding. The Ghost Town Trail is appropriately named for once thriving mining towns on this route which no longer exist. Historical attractions such as the Eliza and Buena Vista Furnaces, as well as the Vintondale Map and the Mine Worker’s Memorial, are accessible from the trail. Connect to the Hoodlebug Trail and head north to Indiana, home of International film icon, Jimmy Stewart.
If 42 miles seems a bit much, enter through the many access points; Nanty Glo, Revloc, Dilltown or Blacklick from Routes 422 and 22 via Routes 271, 403, 259, and 119.
Drive over to the West Penn Trail for some combination rails to trails and single track riding on the Dick Mayer section. Stop at the Tunnelview Historic Site and climb the stairs to continue biking, but take a moment to view the sites. Make sure you stop for a break at the Conemaugh Dam ….a great photo spot!
Yellow Creek State Park, directly off of Route 422, offers 15 miles of single track mountain biking with ongoing expansion of new trails. The 720-acre Yellow Creek Lake offers swimming, boating and fishing opportunities. The park is designated as an “Important Bird Area” and spring is prime for migrant sightings — so don’t forget your binoculars.
For more information on these and other outdoor recreational activities visit one of the following four Visitor bureaus:
Lawrence County Tourist Promotion Agency
229 South Jefferson Street
New Castle, PA 16101
Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau
310 East Grandview Avenue
Zelienople, PA 16063
Armstrong County Tourist Bureau
125 Market Street
Kittanning, PA 16201
Indiana County Tourist Bureau
2334 Oakland Ave
Indiana, PA 15701