By Danielle Taylor

Trail users, railroad buffs, history fans, and architecture aficionados have an intriguing new destination to explore in southern Clarion County. Just across Redbank Creek from the tiny community of Climax, the Allegheny Valley Railroad built the Climax Tunnel from 1873 to 1876, and nearly 150 years later it has reopened for recreational use as part of the Redbank Valley Trail.

The Climax Tunnel’s restoration included installation of an extensive reinforcement structure to bolster the tunnel’s ceiling. Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Using grants from the federal Transportation Assistance Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Redbank Valley Trails Association extended the 528-foot-long tunnel to 608 feet, reinforced the ceiling structure, and added surfacing at ground level.

On August 18, join the Redbank Valley Trails Association, Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, Allegheny Valley Land Trust, Armstrong Trail, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and other local stakeholders to celebrate the grand opening of the Climax Tunnel from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.. This event will include a ribbon cutting, comments by several local dignitaries including PA DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn, music, a live radio broadcast, lunch from Zack’s Shack Restaurant, treats from Meadows Frozen Custard, and more.

In conjunction with the grand opening event, organized bike rides will begin from the trailheads in Brookville and Summerville at 8 a.m. and from New Bethlehem at 10 a.m. with the goal of arriving at the tunnel by 10:30 a.m. Riders are responsible for their own return transportation. At 1 p.m., the U.S. Army will host a free 5K Fun Run with awards going to the top three male and top three female competitors.

The Redbank Trail offers recreation access for New Bethlehem, Summerville, Brookville, and the small communities in between. Photo by Lasher Photography.

The Redbank Valley Trail is a four-season, non-motorized trail running for 41.5 miles between Brookville and the Redbank Creek’s intersection with the Allegheny near East Brady plus an additional nine-mile spur from Lawsonham to Sligo. It was recognized by DCNR as the commonwealth’s first Trail of the Year in 2014.

Learn more and find other interesting places to explore in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.

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