August flooding leaves Apollo trail in distress
Roaring Run Watershed Association officials were planning a fall dedication of the newly completed North Apollo trailhead to the popular hiking and biking trail network.
Instead, the group is asking for donations to help repair the connector trail after it was damaged by flooding in late August.
Rich Dixon, the association's vice president, said the crushed limestone trail that connects the new parking lot on the Apollo-North Apollo border to Apollo's Kiski Riverfront Trail was just finished in June.
“The connector trail isn't very big, but it's pretty much destroyed,” said Dixon, Apollo's former mayor.
The trail was one of many casualties in the August 28 deluge that flooded much of the Kiski Valley.
The intersection of 11th Street and North Warren Avenue (also known as Route 56/66) was under several feet of water that Wednesday afternoon; the trail is located near the intersection.
“I saw that picture of the Jeep stuck in the water, and you can see our sign in the background,” Dixon said of a Valley News Dispatch report on the flooding.
Dixon and Apollo Council President Dave Heffernan said a small stream known as Sugar Hollow Creek filled with debris and spilled over its banks, flooding the area.
“As far as I can remember, I've never seen it flood like that,” said Heffernan.
Dixon agreed: “I grew up down there and I've never seen it that bad.”
Heffernan said the connector trail may have inadvertently exacerbated the problem: it had a slight elevation that may have prevented water from draining quickly.
“It was kind of like a dam,” Heffernan said.
Heffernan and Dixon said engineers will review the trail's layout and likely lower the surface to allow for better drainage when the trail is repaired.
The connector trail was finished in June along with the asphalt parking lot, Dixon said.
“It didn't hurt (the lot), thank goodness,” he said. “We have about $30,000 tied up in that.”
But the association will have to come up with at least $5,000 to repair damage throughout its extensive property in Apollo and Kiski Township.
In addition to the North Apollo connector trail, parts of the Rock Furnace Trail also were washed out, Dixon said. Rock Furnace is a 1.5-mile trail that follows the hills from Brownstown Road in Kiski Township to the main Roaring Run Trail along the Kiski River.
Dixon said they were lucky none of the bridges along the trail network was damaged, including the large wooden suspension bridge that crosses Roaring Run near the intersections of the Rock Furnace and Roaring Run trails.
“Thank goodness no big trees came through,” he said.
Watershed officials had hoped to have a ceremony this fall to promote the new trail access to Apollo and North Apollo.
With Apollo's Kiski Riverfront Trail running along or on Warren Avenue and Canal Street, hikers and bikers can now easily travel the two miles from North Apollo to the main Roaring Run trailhead in Kiski Township. Then they can follow the former railroad bed another 5 miles to the Edmon section of Kiski Township where the Roaring Run Trail ends near the Salina Bridge.
Dixon said officials hope the trail extension into Apollo brings more trail users into town and allows more businesses to capitalize on the influx of visitors.
Dixon said the trails are passable as long as people use caution in storm-damaged areas: “They're all open, but they're rough in some places.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.