“A smooth passage through history beside the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River on an even-surfaced rail trail.”
— Peter Fleszar
Fall Colors · River/Creek
Section 6 follows the original portion of Lower Trail
rail-trail. The trail's name rhymes with "flower" and honors the memory of the wife and son of the late trail benefactor, T. Dean Lower. The trail has a rolled crushed limestone surface except for the beginning of MST's portion, a 2 mile asphalt section through the Borough of Williamsburg that runs northeastward.
South to north is a gentle descent. The Mt. Etna furnace near the middle of the section offers historic displays, and can be a fun place to pause on your hike. Water Street near the north end was named for the way Native Americans and early settlers passed the gap in Tussey Mountain - by walking in the river. Two centuries of blasting opened the trail parallel to US 22.
When traveling along the trail, either by foot or bike, you can see many remnants of the canal era, including remains of locks and foundations of lock tenders' houses, as well as the historical Mt. Etna iron plantation area. There are a number of bridge crossings of the Juniata River and one covered bridge over the trace of a historic mill stream. Remains of tipples and massive concrete rock crushers from abandoned stone quarries along the trail hint of the once industrial nature of the now-unbroken forest beside the river.
Alfarata Station parking lot marks the north end of Section 6. The roadwalk along Alexandria Rd was eliminated, see the MST Guide
for the most up to date information.
Flora & Fauna
The trail supports many different plant and animal species and the Audubon Society has identified portions of the Lower Trail
as “Important Birding Areas.” A number of Bald Eagles and Osprey have been spotted along the trail. There are also many beautiful and some rare plant species along the trail. The Lower Trail
is part of the Mid State Trail and the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway and has been designated a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service. It is a beautiful, very family-friendly rural trail through wooded areas with few road crossings and provides access to the adjacent Juniata River Water Trail.