Cheektowaga Historic Rails to Trails

While you're getting outside, please leave no trace for the safety of the land and pack the ten essentials for your safety.

The Cheektowaga Historic Rails to Trails (AKA Lehigh Valley Railroad Rail Trail) is a 2.35 mile, 8-foot wide asphalt trail built on a Lehigh Valley Railroad bed adjacent to an active rail yard. The trail proceeds west and south from Union Road ending at the corner of Hurd and Medina Streets. The trail head has a small parking lot off Union Rd just north of Como Park Boulevard. You can also park at Raymond Park at the north end of Ludwig or Raymond Avenues.

Trail Surface

The trail is completely paved from end to end. Both the Union Rd and the Raymond Park parking lots are at the same grade level as the trail.

Please consider carefully whether this trail surface is adequate for your activity.

Restrooms

There are public restrooms at Raymond Park.

Points of Interest

If you wait awhile near the train yard, you are likely to see a train engine connecting up with its cars and pulling them.

I-90 and Harlem Road are overpasses above the trail. Union Road goes under a bridge on the trail.

History

A sign at the trail head says:

The area of Cheektowaga known as Forks, New York is located in the middle of the town at the junction of Broadway & Union Roads. A major railroad station was at this location and in the 1920s the present Town Hall was built.

Behind the now existing Town Hall and Highway Garage there are three giant concrete columns. This is all that remain of one of the largest coal trestles ever built in the United States, extending over half a mile.

In the early 1880s most homes and industries were heated with coal as well as ran industries, mills and steam engines. The trestle was built of wood and concrete for the purpose of providing uninterrupted coal service for its customers. It would transfer coal from rail car to waiting horse drawn wagons and later motor driven trucks. Hopper cars would be pushed by a switch engine up the trestle to the second story and the bottom of the hopper would empty their contents into the wagons below.

The coal trestle survived into the 1920s when a fire and its outdated construction would spell its demise.

This is a taste of Lehigh Valley Railroad history from Lehigh Valley Railroad Historical Society:

Originally chartered in 1846 to be a transporter of anthracite coal from the vast coal fields of Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley Railroad grew into a major carrier of both freight and passengers between Jersey City, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York.

Hiking Solo (and Running, etc.)

Suppose you can do the whole point-to-point trail distance but not the out and back. If you don’t have multiple cars to stage at trailhead start and end, consider using Uber or Lyft to get a ride back to where you parked. Since this trail is in a populated area, you won’t have long to wait for a ride. I’ve done this several times because I usually hike solo.

Trail Summary

Distance 2.35 miles 4.7 miles out and back
Elevation gain 66 feet  
Trail surface Asphalt  
Difficulty Easy  
Point of Interest 42.89331, -78.76703 I-90 Overpass
Point of Interest 42.89266, -78.77322 Active train yard
Union Road parking 42.896709, -78.75403 6 spaces, no handicap

Avenza Map

  • Load the PDF map into Avenza app on your smartphone in one of these ways:
    1. From your smartphone’s browser, tap this magic link to load the map directly into Avenza. QR Code
    2. From Avenza app’s Import Maps function, scan this QR code.
  • Be sure to do this when you have good internet connection. Don’t wait until you are at the trailhead!

For more information about trail maps, see the Maps page.

Load Avenza Map into browser