Following History through Indian Trails and Forts

Indian trails were a network of paths that were shortcuts above river banks, creeks,  and the frontier that allowed for trading, commerce, and cultural flow among tribes and the settlers.

Studying the trails can be difficult because there are very few visible remnants.  Traveling over land was much preferred than water.  Pennsylvania’s waterways of steep descents, shallow water, swift water rapids, and the use of heavy logs for dugout canoes, which was deadweight in the water, did not allow for easy travel.

Warrior Run-Fort Freeland Society board member, Randy Watts has explored the local trails, and in 2018, hiked the footsteps of the prisoners from Fort Freeland that were sent to Fort Niagara in 1779, while following the Indian trails.  His hike started exactly 239 years after the Battle of Fort Freeland, walking first on the Shamokin Indian Path, and after 275 miles in fourteen days, averaging about 19.5 miles per day, ended at Fort Niagara.   He stopped at several historic sites along the way.

Randy trained vigorously for six months, preparing his body for carrying a 32 pound backpack.



Randy spent three days walking the Sheshequin Indian Path, starting in Montoursville, PA, ending in Grover, PA.  From Grover, PA, he hiked the Horsehead Path for two days, ending in Elmira, NY.  For three days, Randy hiked on the Forbidden Indian Path from Elmira, NY and headed westward to Dansville, NY.  On the Geneseo Path in Canawaugus, NY, he hiked for three days to Brockport, NY.  For one day, Randy hiked the historic Erie Canal at Brockport, NY.  His last trail was the Lake Ontario Shore Path, and finishing at Fort Niagara, which took two days to hike.  Randy camped for three nights at Four Mile State Park, which the English sieged and conquered the French controlled Fort Niagara during the French and Indian War in 1755.

Fort Muncy

Randy’s research included publications from Paul Wallace and Roger Swartz.




Northumberland County, PA documented Indian Paths