Gorgeous landscapes, thrilling outdoor adventures, and fascinating historic sites seamlessly come together in Blair County, located within The Alleghenies region of Pennsylvania. Go on a hike or a bike ride as you explore the great outdoors and discover important moments in American history.
In Hollidaysburg, escape to the sprawling Canoe Creek State Park, where a glittering lake beckons for boating and fishing, wetlands and fields offer exceptional birding and wildlife watching, and 12 miles of hiking trails provide a challenge for adventurers of all ability levels. Go on a hike to get a glimpse into the area’s rich industrial heritage when you take your pick between the easy Limestone Loop or the more difficult Hartman Loop, which meander to the historic lime kilns. These remnants of the Blair Limestone Company are where limestone was once processed during the boom of Pennsylvania’s iron and steel industries in the early 1900s. The Petersburg spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad once traveled to these massive structures to transport the processed limestone to the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company of Pittsburgh for steel production.
Within a mile of Canoe Creek State Park is the trailhead for the 16.5-mile Lower Trail. This rail-trail was once part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, which operated in the mid-1800s, and it was later part of the Petersburg Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Today, this crushed limestone trail is ideal for biking, hiking, horseback riding, and, in the winter, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Travel along this scenic trail and see remnants of the historic canal and industrial eras: locks and foundations of former lock tender’s houses, abandoned stone quarries, and concrete rock crushers.
Stand right in the place where railroad history was made when you visit the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark in Altoona, completed in 1854. This three-track railroad was an engineering marvel for its time, finally allowing quick and easy passage through the Allegheny Mountains, which before, could not be traversed via railway and instead required using inclined planes due to the steep grade. Trek up the stairs to the tracks of this historic site, or ride the funicular (or “inclined plane”) from the visitors center for a spectacular view of the curve and the surrounding mountains.
Experience a more recent moment in history when you explore the September 11 National Memorial Trail, a national trail that connects the World Trade Center, Flight 93 and the Pentagon Memorials. Still in development, this trail corridor passes through Blair County, using existing trails and rail-trails through the picturesque countryside, commemorating this pivotal day in American history.
Get more ideas for exploring the great outdoors, history, and culture in Blair County by requesting your copy of the free visitors guide.