Path of the Flood

This trail is exactly what the name says. The trail follows the path of the historic Johnstown, PA flood of 1889. The trail begins just below the South Fork Dam, the dam that breached causing the flood. The trail then, 12 miles later ends at the Johnstown Flood Museum. Portions of the route are dedicated trail and some portions are on street. The trail is considered a rail-trail but there are some challenging inclines.

The trail "is paired with" the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail. I am not sure what that means. It doesn't seem likely that the tunnel was actually in the path of the flood waters. Looking at a map it seems the trail detours to the tunnel then returns to a what I assume was the actual path of the floodwaters.

The two mile trail to reach the tunnel and the 901 foot tunnel are operated by the National Park Service. The Staple Bend Tunnel is the first railroad tunnel built in the United States. The trail is part of the Allegheny Trail System and the September 11th National Memorial Trail. The South Fork Dam breach and resulting flood claimed 2,200 lives. For comparison, the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11 claimed 2,606 lives.

I rode the trail from the Fifficktown Trailhead (40.36834, -78.79218) to the tunnel in September 2021. My GPS indicated an elevation gain of 379 feet for my ride. The first half I thought was unremarkable and did not like the on road portion to connect to the tunnel trail. The route includes a one lane underpass with a blind curve. There was a traffic signal but I still felt uncomfortable. The tunnel trail portion was very nice. Mile markers seemed to start at the tunnel trailhead. I did not notice any on the first portion of my ride. The only comfort station I noticed on my ride was a permeant one located at the tunnel trail trailhead. 

More information about the trail may be found on the websites of:

Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority 

Trans Allegheny Trails


National Park Service Audio Tour

A video of my ride in the tunnel is included on my YouTube channel.

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