Named after Mahoning Creek that it parallels and Punxsutawney Phil's famous shadow, the 15-mile long Mahoning Shadow Trail is a gem of a trail nestled in southern Jefferson County, PA - only a 1.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh.
I parked at the Fordham Trailhead (western terminus) and hit the trail around 10:30am. It was a chilly day for July, it was in the mid-60's but felt colder in the shaded wooded areas of the trail.
Trail surface is primarily crushed stone, well cared for and mostly level. The trail follows the path of the former Pennsylvania & Northwestern Railroad.
About midway the trail passes through the Weather Capital of the World, Punxsutawney! This quaint town is home to the legendary Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Punxsutawney Phil. Every year on February 2nd thousands gather at nearby Gobbler's Knob to watch Phil emerge from his hole and find out if he sees his shadow. This year (2016) he did see his shadow, meaning an early spring! There is a cool statue of Phil the groundhog dressed as a postman near the trail, which I later learned is just one of a whole series of "Phantastic Phil" statues featuring groundhog Phil dressed as a doctor, a fireman, a wizard, and many more. Next time I ride this trail I'll definitely explore and find a few more!
East of Punxsutawney the trail has a slight incline for 3-4 miles up to the eastern end of the trail. On my way up I saw a family of bears! Luckily they were pretty far away when I noticed the mama bear crossing onto the trail. There were 3 cubs following the big mama, they crossed the trail and headed into the woods after 2 or 3 minutes.
The ride back to my Fordham trailhead was great, the weather got a little bit warmer and the sun even peeked out a few times. When I got back to my car I packed up and headed further north to Brockway, PA to ride the Clarion - Little Toby Trail. Stay tuned for more from that ride!