Ghost Town Trail marks 25th year with bike ride in Cambria County |

Ghost Town Trail marks 25th year with bike ride in Cambria County

Jeff Himler
Tribune-Review file photo
A cyclist rides past the remnants of the Eliza Furnace, a blast furnace built around the mid-1800s, on the Ghost Town Trail between Dilltown and Nanty Glo, Wednesday, August 15, 2007.

The Ghost Town Trail, spanning Indiana and Cambria counties, has grown from 12 miles to 46 miles over the past 25 years and annually attracts 80,000 bicyclists and hikers.

Organizations that develop, maintain and support the trail will celebrate that quarter-century of growth Friday with a bike ride and program in Vintondale, Cambria County.

“The popularity is just growing tremendously,” said Cliff Kitner, executive director of the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, which owns the sections of the trail in Cambria County. “It’s not uncommon to see cars from multiple states at any of the trail heads.”

No reservations are required for the 20-mile bike ride, which begins at 9 a.m. in Vintondale. Participants should arrive by 8:45 a.m. at a parking lot at 1069 Main St.

Participants will head north on the trail’s Rexis Branch and then will explore the 12-mile C & I (Cambria & Indiana) Trail Extension. They’ll share the road with automobiles on a 2-mile downhill trip into Nanty Glo, where they’ll break for lunches they may either pack or order at taverns along the trail.

They’ll then ride west on the main section of the Ghost Town Trail, arriving in Vintondale in time for a 1 p.m. program featuring remarks by people who have played roles in the trail’s development. The keynote speaker will be Tom Sexton, regional director of the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

The program will be held near one of the historic landmarks along the trail — Eliza Furnace, a hot-blast iron furnace dating from 1846.

Friday’s celebration also will feature distribution of free commemorative T-shirts and bandannas, while supplies last, and drawings for prizes including local golfing, camping and bed and breakfast packages.

Indiana County Parks and Trails, which manages the Indiana County portions of the Ghost Town Trail, is taking part in the celebration.

Developed beginning in 1991 along a section of the former Ebensburg & Black Lick Railroad, the Ghost Town Trail was christened on Oct. 1, 1994, named for several abandoned mining communities on the route that are recalled through interpretive signs.

The main section of the trail stretches between Burrell Township, in Indiana County, and Ebensburg. Segments added in Cambria County have included former rights-of-way of the Cambria & Indiana Railroad. The 8-mile C & I Extension was completed in 2017.

Kitner said one of his organization’s next goals is to extend the trail farther east, to Loretto, home to St. Francis University.

“I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years brings,” he said.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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