The Montour Trail is part of the Great Allegheny Passage, which stretches over 330 miles to connect Pittsburgh with Washington, D.C. Upon hearing mixed reviews of this trail, curiosity prevailed and we chose to bike the stretch from Greer Tunnel to McDonald.
The tracks of the abandoned Montour Railroad and Peters Creek branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad were paved over to form the trail. The Montour Railroad was in operation from 1877-1984 and was primarily used to haul coal. The railroad peaked in the early 1930s. It served 27 mines and carried 7 million tons of coal annually.
In 1946, the Montour Railroad was sold jointly to the Pennsylvania Railroad and Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad became the sole owners in 1975. The railroad ceased operation in 1984.
The first section of the Montour Trail was completed in 1992. Over 40 miles of the trail are complete and the goal is to extend the trail to 46 miles from Moon Township to Clairton. Currently there are a few gaps in the southern section. Plans are in development to build a connector from Pittsburgh International Airport so cyclists can deplane, connect to the Great Allegheny Passage and bike to Washington, D.C.
The West Peters part of the trail features the Greer Tunnel and Chartiers Creek High Bridge, the highest bridge on the trail.
A working railroad line crosses under the trail.
After crossing Route 980, there is a staircase with a bike rail.
Unlike other rails-to-trails, most of the remnants of the old railroad have been cleared.
The National Tunnel spans 623 feet.
The Montour Trail passes through both suburban areas and a picturesque countryside with gently rolling hills. In summertime, the smell of honeysuckle scents the air and wildflowers creep over wooden fences.
Volunteers tend public garden areas along the path. The trail is an obvious source of pride for its neighbors.
Wildflowers such as sweet pea, daisy, and dill are interspersed among the store-bought plants.
Chipmunks and rabbits can be spotted darting along the path.
Although this 20-mile round trip segment was fun to explore, it had a lot of bike traffic. Expect to hear a few bells!
Visit https://hikinginpennsylvania.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/montour-trail-primrose-to-enlow-tunnel/ to read about our next adventure on the Montour Trail.