I took the break in rainy weather today to head out for a hike along nearby Roaring Run trail and the connecting Rock Furnace trail. My Adventure Buddy Jenny and I have biked the Roaring Run trail numerous times, and have paddled up and down the Kiskiminetas river a few times from the launch at the Apollo trailhead. About a mile and a half up the trail, the Rock Furnace trail takes off up Roaring Run to the north-east. While we have passed this trail on our bikes, we never explored it. With the run-off from the rains and snow melt, I figured Roaring Run might be, uh, roaring, and provide some good photo opportunities. I was not disappointed!
The trail follows Roaring Run about one and a half miles upstream to a parking lot at the upper trailhead. The trail itself is hilly in spots but well-drained and easily traversed. It was (and looks like still is) used to maintain a number of gas wells in the area. The surface is flat and well packed, with no ruts. It seems popular with mountain bikers and hikers. There are numerous side trails marked for mountain biking and hiking. About a mile up the trail from the Roaring Run trail, there is a pedestrian suspension bridge crossing Roaring Run built by the trail association, with ramps to make it easy to get bikes across. Interestingly, it appears that the original well maintenance road crossed the stream at this location and again down closer to the Kiskiminetas River, where the railroad (that later became the trail there) crossed Roaring Run on a narrow bridge. Presumably that bridge was not suitable for vehicular traffic, so the maintenance road forded the stream a little ways upstream. Given how vigorous the stream was today, I would want to be the person who had to drive across it in either place during the spring after a big thaw or major rain.
A little ways up from the bridge are the remains of Rock Furnace, also known as Biddle Furnace. Rock Furnace (so named on account of the enormous rock that hangs over the hillside next to it) was a cold blast iron furnace that was in operation from 1825 to 1855, and may be one of the earliest iron furnaces of its type in western Pennsylvania. There is some more history about the furnace on the Apollo Area Historical Society page. Today, the footprint of the furnace and much of its stone structure remain, and there is a marker on the trail describing the construction and history.
The Rock Furnace trail has lots of great views of Roaring Run, and plenty of benches to sit for a while to enjoy them. At about six miles round trip from the Canal Street trailhead for the Roaring Run trail to the parking lot at the Rock Furnace trailhead, it is a nice hike on easy terrain and worth the trip. Following are some of my favorite photos from today’s trip, in no particular order.