The Summit Nature Trail lies within the Allegheny Portage Historic Site. It is also the northern section of the 6-to-10 Trail, so named because the full length of the trail stretches from the site of the railroad's Engine House #6 to the ruins of Engine House #10. During its heyday in the mid-1800s, the railroad that used this route carried passengers, canal boats and goods 37 miles across the Allegheny Mountains.
Some of the critical components of the railroad remain, such as the Skew Arch Bridge, where the Summit Trail begins, which is a pawrfect photo subject. From the Bridge, the trail travels through grassy and wooded terrain, sometimes beside or atop the "incline bed" railroad beds lined with rectangular granite stones to which the rails were bolted for stability. Several arched bridges speak to the historic advances in transportation made here.
A majority of this trail is shaded by mature oaks and maples, and in spring, wildflowers like mountain laurel and wild azaleas accompany you. Small mammals skitter among the leaves on the ground and bolt up tree trunks as you approach, and the ever-present birds serenade you with their chirps and calls. Deer, though cautious and shy, may appear along tree lines in the early morning or right before dusk, and an occasional snake is possible.
This section of the 6-to-10 is for pedestrians only, while the lower section permits bicycles for a short segment. An observation deck at Blair Gap provides a birds-eye view of the hills and surrounding areas, and you'll reach the end of the trail across from the Historic Lemon House, a home and tavern so named for the bright yellow paint adorning the tavern walls. The entrance to the park is here as well, and the Summit Trail can be started here too, where there is free parking and several indoor and outdoor museum exhibits. Interpretive signs also provide information on the Skew Arch Bridge and other historic artifacts.
The Summit Nature Trail is a short, pleasant hike for almost any skill level, and will be loads of fun for Fido, too!
Ticks are prevalent in the area around this trail. Stay to the path and use a tick-repellant. Long pants and sleeves are recommended. Check your pup often for ticks and remove them. Parts of the trail can be muddy after a rain.