Sometimes the best finds are the accidental ones, and that was certainly the case with the Stavich Trail, which we found by missing the turn for Cascade Park in New Castle. Upon catching a glimpse of a caboose hidden in the woods, I knew we were destined to return.
Constructed in 1983, with generous funding from the John and George Stavich families, this bicycle trail extends 10.5 miles from New Castle to Struthers, Ohio.
The land next to the trail can be traced back to the 1600s, when it served as hunting grounds for the Seneca Nation and homeland for the Delaware Nation. The trail itself is part of the former Mahoning Indian path that connected Beaver to Cayahaga (now Akron).
The Stavich Trail is not your ordinary bike trail! The trail was built over the abandoned trolley track of the Penn-Ohio Trolley Line, created in 1889, which connected New Castle to Youngstown, Ohio. In 1933, the track was abandoned. Since electric railroads were not built to the same standards as conventional railroads, which are more forgiving about gradients, this trail is hillier than most rails-to-trails.
On the contrary, the Stavich Trail is actually a rail-with-trail! Bicyclists will ride parallel to an active CSX railroad track. It is a safe assumption that a train will come past during your ride. We spotted seven!
Unlike other trails paved with crushed limestone, the Stavich Trail is paved with asphalt. Riders may notice “speed bumps” in the pavement where the surface has risen up. I had an unfortunate tumble heading downhill after hitting one of these bumps.
The Stavich Trail runs parallel to the Mahoning River.
The trail passes an active beaver pond. Beaver are active in early morning.
In addition to riding next to trains, you will also cross state lines!
We spotted beaver and bunnies along the trail. After crossing into Ohio, we noticed a few dead moles and mice.
Wildflowers are widespread, especially summer-blooming tiger lilies.
The trail meanders through quiet rural areas with small farms, industrial complexes, and small town streets. One moment you may hear clucking chickens and the next you may hear electric machinery. Of course there’s also the occasional whistle of a passing train!
The trail takes a brief detour through the streets of Lowellville.
While it is possible that the trail might one day extend southward into Beaver County to connect with the Great Allegheny Passage via the Montour Trail, no official plans exist.