This trail is named after the late son and wife to T. Dean Lower who was the Hollidaysburg attorney that gave a donation for the purchase of the 11 miles (18 km) stretch, which runs from Alfarata to Williamsburg. The whole trail is 16.5 miles (26.6 km) and it lies where there was once the Pennsylvania Canal in the 1800s and it was a major means of transport.
The canal that acted as a link between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia was known as the “continuous waterways” at the time. The canals were eventually faced out by the 1850s when the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) became the main means of transport and it covered the area where Lower Trail lies today.
After attorney T. Dean Lower channeled the first donation through Rails to Trails-of-Central Pennsylvania for the purchase of part of the trail, the remaining stretch that extends from Williamsburg to Canoe Creek was bought out in 1994 through an anonymous donation. Lower Trail remains as the only rail trail in the United States that is under private ownership and there are no charges for anyone that needs to access it.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania (RTTCPA) maintains this crushed limestone trail that follows the course of Juniata River starting from Flowing Springs to Alfarata. It serves as a perfect place for bikers, jogging/walking as well as horse riding. Having your dog for company as you walk or jog at Lower Trail is also a great idea.
Dappled shade and cool breezes are characteristic of Lower Trail that will most certainly cause you to appreciate what nature has to offer. This brings with it a breath of fresh air and an ample environment to retreat to. Oak, bald cypress and butternut are some of the native trees you are likely to find here and though trees do not cover the whole trail, most of it is under cover.
During certain times of the year and especially in May, you will be lucky to observe different bird species as they migrate including ospreys, scarlet tanagers, bald eagles, cerulean warblers, great blue herons, red-eyed vireos, among others. Lower Trail has streamside benches for those who would want to take time and relax as they muse over the beauty of nature that surrounds them.
While one is seated quietly on one of these, bobcats, squirrels, black bears, deer, turkeys, turtles and other creatures of the wild will show up and the beauty of this experience is something that many cannot hold back. Such sights and more on Lower Trail have made it popular among many and in 2009 the United States Department of the Interior it was declared a National Recreation Trail.
Before then in 2001, the Ornithological Technical Committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey had termed this place an Important Bird Area. Lower Trail is set in a breathtaking environment and every season, the scenery changes in appearance hence, giving all visitors a new kind of experience throughout the year.
It might also be interesting to note that Lower Trail is actually pronounced as “flower” Trail and it is one place that majority cannot get enough of.