Welcome to the Ernst Trail
Traversing terrain with imprints of ice-age glaciation, the trail passes through the lush bottom lands of French Creek Valley. With 66 species of fish and 27 species of mollusks, French Creek is Pennsylvania most biologically diverse body of water. From the creek to the end of the trail’s completed portion, the landscape is pastoral with varied environments of meadow and marsh, hardwood stands and hemlock thickets. The proposed segment from Route 19 to Conneaut Lake parallels Conneaut Marsh, an ancient river valley infield with glacial debris, and home to nesting bald eagles and migrating waterfowl. The paved trail is five miles long, located from the Park Avenue Plaza in Meadville to Route 19, a distance of five miles.
History of Ernst Trail
The Meadville-Linesville Railroad was built from 1880-1892 by a group of Meadville entrepreneurs to gain access to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Linesville. Despite the involvement of some of Meadville’s best-known citizens, the railroad did not flourish.
In 1891, the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Co. leased the right-of-way and for a time it’s most profitable use was as a passenger line, transporting visitors to Exposition Park (renamed Conneaut Lake Park in 1920). With the rise of the automobile, passenger service declined, and in 1934, rail service to the park was discontinued. The Bessemer abandoned the line in 1976. In 1996, Calvin Ernst, the right-of-way’s owner, donated the property to French Creek Recreational Trails and the Ernst Bike Trail was born.