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Staple Bend Tunnel in Autumn

This week’s blog is written by Gabi, a new monthly blog correspondent and Drummers alumni.  She writes about about one of her favorite trails in her area, and what makes it special to her – how it makes her think about days gone by and travelers from the past.  As the first snows of winter have begun and all the leaves are officially gone from the trees, I think we are all a little nostalgic for Autumn!

Autumn…when the hills turn from the usual deep green to bright and vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds. It is one of my favorite times of the year. I love taking brisk walks on breezy and sunny autumn days especially on trails that meander through the vibrant fall forest. The leaves display an endless array of colors that simply cannot be compared with anything.  I think of the fall forest as nature’s canvas full of color.  The leaves change to these vibrant reds, yellows and oranges during autumn because the chlorophyll, which is something contained in the leaves that uses sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into glucose, (a sugar that the trees needs to grow), is less abundant in the fall, allowing the leaves to shine their autumn hues.  The forest in autumn is a place I find solitude and serenity in.  Walking the trails through Western PA during the fall is one of my favorite things to do!

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Staple Bend Tunnel is one of those trails that wanders almost aimlessly through the forest’s canopy.  It’s as if the Trail is not really sure where it’s going but has it’s destination in sight all at the same time. Staple Bend Tunnel is about a two-mile stretch of trail in Mineral Point near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, my hometown.  The Staple Bend Tunnel was the first railroad tunnel in the United States built in 1833 and it is owned and operated by the National Park Service.  The trail is very well kept and makes for a pleasant walk or bicycle ride.  The Trail is bordered on one side by railroad tracks.  Yet, despite that, it still provides a peaceful walk as the crossing of the trains brings about feelings of days gone by.  A walk on the Trail with the trains passing by makes me nostalgic and curious about the traveler’s who once rode through the beautiful landscape that western Pennsylvania offers.

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The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail connects on both ends with the Path of the Flood Trail, a steeper and more challenging hike that winds through the heart of western Pennsylvania. On the Conemaugh end of the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail lies an eerie yet intriguing tunnel that beckons hikers and bicyclists from far away.  It’s entrance is immense made of cut limestone which was designed to impress the traveler’s of days long passed.  The Tunnel does not have any lighting and does create a creepy vibe once inside.  The only light that you can see is the light shining from the other end of the tunnel.  There is a path that goes around the tunnel for those less-than-brave souls who choose to venture around the tunnel!

The Staple Bend Tunnel Trail is a beautifully constructed pathway that winds through some of Western Pennsylvania’s most scenic sites.  A walk on the Trail provides a calmness that only nature can deliver.  So, if you’re ever in Western PA, make it a point to take a walk, especially if you visit in autumn, down the Staple Bend Tunnel Trail.  And, don’t let your fear guide you around the Tunnel itself as it too offers a unique experience!

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