The County Line Trail is a relatively new multi-use trail located in Gallitizin State Forest in northern Somerset County. Located on route PA56, east of Windber near the small village of Ogletown, the County Line Trail is 10 miles long and is open for use by hikers, mountain bikers, and horse back riders. For this outing I opted to hike a seven mile circuit hike keeping to the mostly flat sections of the trail located on the Allegheny Plateau.
|Trailhead:||N 40° 11.95'
W 78° 41.87'
|Trail Length:||7.3 miles|
|Hike Time:&||4 hours|
|Near:||Along route PA56 east
of Ogletown, PA.
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In order to reach the trailhead you will need to find route PA56. The easiest way to reach route PA56 is to head towards Johnstown. You will probably approach Johnstown on route US219, either traveling south from Ebensburg and route US22 or north from Somerset and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Once on route US219, look for the route PA56 east exit. Coming from the south, you will encounter this exit prior to reaching the west PA56 exit that takes you to Johnstown. Coming from the north, routes US219 and PA56 will merge for approximately 2.6 miles before you exit route US219. Once you take the PA56 east exit, travel for 8.9 miles, passing through the town of Windber. You will see a sign for the Babcock Picnic Area on your right. Continue on route PA56 for another 1.2 miles and look for the Clear Shade Wild Area sign on your right. Continue on route PA56 for an additional 2.1 miles, passing through the small village of Ogletown, and look to your left for a large parking area. Pull in here at Buffalo Road and park in the designated parking area. If coming from the east you may want to find your way onto route I99. Just north of Bedford is the intersection of I99 and PA56. Exit here and travel west on route PA56 for 15.8 miles. The parking area and Buffalo Road will be on your right.
After getting dressed for a hike on this chilly November morning, I headed north on Buffalo Road. For the first 0.6 miles of this hike you will need to hike on Buffalo Road. At this point you will see a gated, seldom used road directly in front of you. This is where you will turn right off the road and begin hiking on the County Line Trail proper.
At 0.8 miles into the hike, after a short climb, the trail comes to a tee intersection. Turn left here as the trail levels out. Around 1.1 miles into the hike the trail passes through a large, grassy parking area. This area looks to be a place to load and unload horses for equestrian use of the trail. Continue straight across the staging area and find the red blazed County Line Trail leading past the gated road on the right.
About 1.6 miles into the hike you will come to one of the highlights of this hike. Here you will find an observation deck, located on the edge of the Allegheny Front, that provides panoramic views to the east, overlooking the valleys of central Bedford county. I paused here to enjoy the view and the warmth of the late morning sun.
From here the trail heads back from the Allegheny Front, but it does parallel it for the next few miles. Near 2 miles into the hike I came across another intersection with the County Line Trail. To the left was a wide, newly created trail, heading off into a brushy area that looked to be an area that was clear cut in the not so distant past. To the right was the red blazed single track that continued following the edge of the Allegheny Front. I kept to the right and continued on the single track.
For the next 0.6 miles the trail followed very closely the edge of the Allegheny Front. Being in the fall, with all the leaves off the trees, I was able to get a few more "winter" vistas looking our over the valley to the east. At 0.7 miles the trail turned back from the Allegheny Front, near the intersection with another newly created trail. This trail came in from the left, flagged in pink, and painted with red blazes as well. I continued straight at this point.
Being about 3 miles into the hike, the trail begins to descend. At 3.2 miles I came across another intersection. This intersection, in the shape of a "Y" provided an option to head to my right or to my left. Both options were blazed in red. Knowing that I was over 3 miles into my hike, I decided to head off to the left and begin my hike back towards the trailhead.
With the trail still heading in a downward direction, I came upon Buffalo Road at 3.6 miles into the hike. At this point, a bit north of this junction, I spied a gated road. I hiked up to this point and noticed the red blazes heading down Buffalo Trail. Even though it was called a trail, it looked to be as nice of a road as the gravel Buffalo Road that I was leaving. Not more than 100 feet down Buffalo Trail, I noticed a small short-cut trail coming down from Buffalo Road. I believe if I would have headed directly across Buffalo Road after exiting the woods on the County Line Trail that I would have discovered this single track trail.
About one tenth of a mile down Buffalo Trail, I came upon another intersection. Bearing off to the left was a red blazed single track trail. I decided to continue straight on Buffalo Trail.
For the next 1.5 miles I followed Buffalo Trail as it parallels the head waters of Shade Creek. I did come across two other trail junctures to the right of Buffalo Trail. The first was at 4.3 miles and the second at 4.6 miles. These trails were also red blazed and were other options for hiking on the County Line Trail.
At 5.1 miles, Buffalo Trail was gated and the red blazed County Line Trail turned sharply to the left and began a gradual climb of the hillside. It looked as if this was a snowmobile trail that the County Line Trail was now following.
I continued to follow this wide section of the trail for another 0.9 miles. At 6 miles into the hike, the trail bears to the right, leaving this wide section of the trail behind. Soon it became obvious that I was once again hiking on an old forest road.
At 6.2 miles into the hike I came upon yet another intersection. To the left was a single track trail, blazed red like the trail I was currently hiking. There were no signs indicating the intersection and I was just lucky enough to be looking off to my left when I saw this trail. At this point I decided to head down the single track and headed off in an easterly direction.
At 6.7 miles the single track section of the trail that I had been hiking intersected with a wider trail. Also at this point there was a gated road that intersected with the trail. To the right I could see Buffalo Road. I headed towards Buffalo Road, where I turned right and headed back towards the trailhead for this hike.
The total hike was about 7.3 miles in length. There are over 10 miles of trail that make up the County Line Trail. I had used a number of connector trail to make the hike a little shorter. It was nice to find another hiking opportunity in this part of the state. Even though Gallitzin State Forest is smalled, compared to others in the state, it offers three different trails for all levels of hiking. The County Line Trail, along with the John P. Saylor Trail just a few miles to the west, are great trails for novice hikers. The Lost Turkey Trail, which has its western terminus in Gallitzin State Forest, is a great trail for intermediate backpackers. It is nice to see so many hiking opportunities in such close proximity to one another located here on the edge of the Allegheny Plateau, just a short distance from the cities of Johnstown and Bedford.