Samuel Justus Trails & Allegheny River
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
The trail is 32 miles of flat, smooth, asphalt surface from Oil City to Emlenton. Through Sunny Slope, 14 miles south of Franklin, take the dirt road about a 1/2 mile until it reconnects with the paved trail. Bordered on the west by the Allegheny River and on the east mostly by woodland, the 8-foot wide paved surface built on an old railroad grade is parallel to a dirt access road suitable for horses. The trail is marked through Oil City to the north to the intersection of Seneca Street and Route 8. To the south, the trail is complete through the old Quaker State Refinery in Emlenton and ends at the parking lot at the edge of town.
There are two railroad tunnels on the ART. The Kennerdell Tunnel, 3350’ long, is 15 miles south of Franklin and the Rockland Tunnel, 2868’ long, is 21 miles south of Franklin. The trail is paved through the tunnels and three rows of reflectors mark the trail edges and center. Both tunnels are very dark. Bring a light!
Three miles farther downriver from Emlenton is the lovely old railroad town of Foxburg. The railroad grade is unimproved but can be ridden on a mountain bike, and the Foxburg Inn on the river is worth the ride. On the southern end of Foxburg, the trail continues about 4 miles to Parker’s Landing. It crosses the Clarion River as it comes into the Allegheny.
Facilities Picnic tables are located 1/2 mile south of Oil City, at the Franklin trailhead, and 4 miles south of Franklin. Benches with river views are at numerous locations along the trail. Full-service repair is available at the Franklin trailhead. A number of eating and lodging facilities are available within biking distance of the Oil City, Franklin, and Emlenton trailheads. Two primitive campsites are located on the trail.
Artifacts from the oil boom of the late 1800s are apparent. About midway between Franklin and Oil City, is the stately River Ridge mansion and farm of the late US Senator Joseph P. Sibley who acquired a considerable fortune from the early oil industry. Oil well locations can be seen all along the river and trail - some abandoned for 100 years or more. John Wilkes Booth was part owner of an unsuccessful 1864 well which was one mile south of Franklin very near the trail.
The spectacular Belmar Bridge over the Allegheny River was built in 1907 as part of a railroad built by local oilman Charles Miller and John D. Rockefeller intended to connect New York with Chicago. Ultimately, it transported much of the coal from Clarion County to Ashtabula on Lake Erie. Be sure to climb the stairs to see the river valley from the bridge.
Approximately 8.5 miles south of Franklin is a reminder of the use of the river by Native Americans. A set of over 50 carvings dating between 1200 and 1750 AD were made on a large rock at the river’s edge. Known as Indian God Rock, this rock is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be easily seen from the trail. An observation deck marks the location.