Running just shy of 10.5 miles, the Houtzdale Rail Trail is a delightful little trail in Clearfield County between Oceola Mills and Smoke Run, PA. We had just enough time to ride a few miles in each directions, so we headed for the near geographic center of the trail, Houtzdale itself.
|The railtrail as it travels through Houtzdale.|
The trail from Houtzdale is an unevenly groomed small gravel trail -- hybrid bikes do just fine. It's not the most manicured rail trail but it's easy to follow and brush is kept in check along side the trail. Often a stream runs alongside the railtrail, as it traverses wetlands and forest. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to ride much of the trail due to a shoulder injury, although my companion was able to enjoy more of the railtrail.
|Photo of former President Harrison being welcomed in Houtzdale|
from Clearfield County, by Julie Rae Rickard, Acadia Publishing, 2003.
Sadly, a number of animals died that day -- including several elephants (I find that the saddest, for some reason).
The wreck killed six men and hundreds of animals, although the local residents gathered to clear the wreckage and save the people and animals that they could. In fact, for a while after the tragedy, local residents sheltered, and cared for the performers, crew, and animals. May 30 1893 continues to be remembered both locally and by the circus community. But to this day, mystery surrounds the train wreck. Where were the elephants buried? No one knows.
Getting there: Parking is along the street in Houtzdale -- no special parking lot for the rail trail, but parking is easy to find and is free. There is a small parking lot in Ramey, just off Route 453.
Websites: Some of the best info you'll find about the Houtzdale Rail Line is on Traillink. Check out https://www.traillink.com/trail-maps/houtzdale-line-trail/ or for personal experience of the rail trail, check out this well-written blog post by Helena Kotala -- her blog is called "To the Nth Degree."