Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania

Rails-to-Trails Along Penns Creek

Beginning in the town of Coburn, Penns Creek flows through multiple gaps in the nearby mountains, flowing past Poe Paddy State Park, and emerging in Buffalo Valley. Taking advantage of the natural geography created by Penns Creek, the early railroads placed a rail line on its banks. In most areas these old rail lines were absorbed back into the agricultural lands, being destroyed and turned into fertile fields. However, the section of rail line that followed Penns Creek through the mountains still exists, or at least the rail bed still remains in tact. This remaining section of rail bed, from Coburn to Poe Paddy State Park, was the destination for this hike.

Trailhead: N 40° 50.96'
W 77° 27.21'
Total Elevation: 120'
Trail Length: 5.5 miles
Hike Time: 3.0 hours
Hike Type: Out and back
Difficulty Rating: 57
Near: Near Coburn, PA.

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Penns Creek, located in Central Pennsylvania, is renowned for its awesome trout fishing. With its headwaters originating from an under ground spring at Penns Cave, located in the heart of Penns Valley, the stream soon finds its way across the valley and flowing along side the north face of First Mountain. Beginning in the town of Coburn, Penns Creek flows through multiple gaps in the nearby mountains, flowing past Poe Paddy State Park, and emerging in Buffalo Valley.

The trailhead for this hike was a little further downstream than in the town of Coburn proper. The land along this section of Penns Creek is still privately owned and residential in nature. I decide to choose a trailhead near the old train trestle. There was also plenty of parking here as it is often used by people fishing Penns Creek.

To get to the trailhead you'll have to get on route PA45 and head towards the town of Millheim. You will need to make a turn at the traffic light in the middle of town. If heading east on route PA45, you will need to turn right, if head west, then turn left. Once you turn onto Penn Street, you will travel south through the town of Millheim for about 0.4 miles and then make a sharp left. After another tenth of a mile you will cross Elk Creek and the road changes to Coburn Road on the other side of the bridge. Simply follow the road, and signs, to Coburn in another 2 miles. Once in Coburn, continue straight cross Penns Creek on an old steel bridge. Continue on this road for another one and three quarter miles. The paved road will turn to dirt and at 1.2 miles you will come across one of the remaining rail tunnels on this section of rail line. You could park here and hike through the tunnel if you like as there is limited parking to the left of the road here. At 1.75 miles from Coburn the dirt road crosses the old rail line and the parking area is immediately on your right.

The original purpose of this hike was to scope out an alternative route for an up-coming hike. I had never been back this far along Penns Creek, and even though I believed that you could walk from Poe Paddy State Park to Coburn, I needed to find out for sure.

I had viewed this gap many times before from atop the nearby mountains. As a matter of fact, if you look south from the trailhead, you can see the clearing of Penns View located on top of Slide Mountain. This was my first time actually hiking through the gap and I was surprised to find that I was unable to drive any further along the banks of Penns Creek then the trailhead.

After putting on my pack I started the hike by crossing an old railroad trestle. The bridge was still in good shape and well kept. After pausing for a few minutes to enjoy the view of the stream I headed on down the trail. Soon I came across two fisherman walking towards me. I'm sure they were surprised to see a hiker on this section of the trail as it used most by fisherman as an easy route to get to points of interest on Penns Creek.

I believe the land that the trail crossed was private lands, however posted signs were only placed on the edges of the trail. The trail itself was left open for public use. Please respect the rights of the land owners as you hike along this section of the trail.

After a mile of hiking I was surprised to see the gap open up into a valley. I had a beautiful view of the creek as is it flowed to the south through other gaps in the mountains. I soon realized that I was entering the "town" of Ingleby. I am hesitant to call it a town as it is only accessible by a dirt back-mountain road. It's now a collection of cabins and summer homes. I can see what would attract people to build here as the location was perfect and picturesque.

At 1.8 miles I left the village of Ingleby and crossed into the Bald Eagle State Forest. There were two more cabins located right here along the state forest border. Soon I was back to the isolation of the woods with Penns Creek flowing just to my right.

At two and three quarters miles the nice rail bed that I had been hiking came to an abrupt end. At this point in the rail line there had been another bridge crossing Penns Creek. However it was now washed out. The trail did continue onward, bearing left off the old rail bed and following the eastern bank of Penns Creek. A quick glance at my watch indicated that I would soon be running out of daylight, so I decided to turn around here and head back to my car.

I was surprised to find such a nice hiking trail, perfect for hikers of all ages, located just south of Coburn. If you are looking for a nice day hike through some enchanting areas of Penns Woods, then I would highly recommend giving this trail a try. I'm definitely going to make it back out here in the spring or summer and also try following the trail all the way to Poe Paddy State Park.

This tunnel is located at the trailhead. There is a similar tunnel located on the Mid State Trail just outside Poe Paddy State Park.

Not far from the trailhead you cross Penns Creek on an old train trestle.

The trail, as you can see, was level, straight, and clear of obstacles.

The trail never travels too far from the banks of Penns Creek.

The old train bridge is out but the trail continues to follow the eastern bank of Penns Creek. I was running out of daylight and decided to turn around at this point.

Heading back to the trailhead I spied this mile marker along the edge of the trail.

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  • Can you tell me where to find parking?

    Karen Bitting on

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