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If you have a tendency to tootle along when you walk or bicycle, then consider taking the Hoodlebug Trail. You’ll find many diversions in and around the college campus in the borough of Indiana and other trailside towns, or perhaps you’d prefer to loiter in the woods alongside Stoney Run or Two Lick Creek. You could pause at the trail’s historical sites, or time your visit to coincide with September’s annual Hoodlebug Festival in Homer City.
The 11.3-mile crushed-stone path is named for the self-propelled passenger coach that traveled the Indiana Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Blairsville and Indiana. Known by the nickname Hoodlebug, it traveled the line until 1940, and the railway ceased to operate in 1977. The first section of trail opened in 2000.
Although not hilly, the trail has steeper grades than most rail-trails. Indiana marks the trail’s high point, and the path dips to Homer City and then climbs again to Graceton before terminating at Black Lick, the low point. An isolated 0.8-mile section, located farther south, runs adjacent to US 119 in Burrell Township. The Hoodlebug Trail connects with the 44.5-mile Ghost Town Trail in Black Lick. Both are part of the Trans Allegheny Trails system, comprising 13 rail-trails that stretch across west-central Pennsylvania.
Starting at the southern edge of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, the trail heads south alongside Wayne Avenue, then beside US 119 south to Black Lick. Although it parallels busy highways, the trail is often screened by woodlands.
Just before you cross US 422 at 1.5 miles, you’ll pass an A-frame church building on the right that used to be the Red Rooster, a rock-and-roll venue of the 1960s. At 3 miles, you’ll pass the old Lucerne Mines coal-mining complex, which included ovens that created coke into the 1970s. Arriving in Homer City at 4.6 miles, at the trailhead on North Main Street you’ll see the old depot site that houses a museum in a caboose. After you cross Yellow Creek, the cemetery (rumored to be haunted) to your right dates from the mid-1800s.
You’ll pass through Graceton at 7.3 miles, followed quickly by Coral. Both had coke ovens to convert coal for use in the steel industry. To the right of the path, you’ll likely see Homer City Generating Station’s 1,216-foot tower, reportedly the tallest in the United States. The trail veers off along Lloyd Street at 8.9 miles, then crosses under US 119 and enters Saylor Park in Black Lick. Just before the park, you’ll see slag piles left over from an iron furnace that closed in the 1920s.
The trail ends in the park at the junction with the Ghost Town Trail, which heads left toward Ebensburg, 32 miles away. An isolated section of trail begins at Blaire Road and US 119/Pittsburgh–Buffalo Highway and heads south 0.8 mile, terminating at Cornell Road in Burrell Township, near Blairsville’s middle school and senior high school complex.
To reach parking at the northern endpoint in Indiana from US 422 and SR 28 in Kittanning, head east on US 422, and go 4.4 miles. Exit to stay on US 422 E, and go 20.1 miles. Continue straight to stay on US 422 E, and go 2.2 miles. Take the SR 286/Oakland Ave. exit, and then take a sharp left onto SR 286 E/Oakland Ave., and go 0.9 mile. Turn right onto US 422 Bus., and go 0.6 mile. Turn left onto Rustic Lodge Road, and go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Kolter Dr., and go 0.5 mile. Turn right onto University Dr., and go 0.1 mile. Turn left into the parking lot.
To reach the parking at the northern endpoint in Indiana from the intersection of US 219 and US 422 in Ebensburg, head west on US 422, and go 23.3 miles. Exit toward Sixth St./SR 954, turn right onto SR 954 N/S. Sixth St., and go 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Indiana Springs Road, and go 1.4 miles. Turn right onto University Dr., and go 0.9 mile. Turn right into the parking lot, which is surrounded on two sides by sports fields.
To reach the Black Lick trailhead at Saylor Park (1284 Old Indiana Road, Blairsville) from the intersection of US 22 and US 119 in Blairsville, head north on US 119. Go 2.3 miles, and turn right onto Main St./SR 2017. Go 0.5 mile; as the road curves left, it becomes Old Indiana Road. In 0.2 mile turn left into the parking lot at Saylor Park. The endpoint is located 2.8 miles farther south.
To reach the Black Lick trailhead at Saylor Park from the intersection of US 422 and US 119 in Indiana, head south on US 119. Go 7 miles, and turn left onto Old Indiana Road. Go 1.3 miles, and turn right into the parking lot at Saylor Park. The endpoint is located 2.8 miles farther south.
This is NOT a gravel trail. It is an asphalt trail (poorly constructed with a very uneven surface) with some areas covered with a thin layer of crushed gravel. The remaining asphalt is deteriorating and creating a less than ideal cycling surface. Loose gravel on asphalt sets up the potential for accidents. I suggest repairing the asphalt or covering all if it with a thick layer of groomed, crushed gravel.
On the positive side, the are some very beautiful sections along the ride, almost making up for the inadequacies of the construction of the trail.
It is obvious the tail was rerouted in several areas. Two steep inclines were created near Blacklick. Not only are these not typical of rail trails, but could have been avoided with better planning. Novice bikers/ hikers might find these a bit challenging.
Some trail markers seem to be missing in Homer City, leaving users wondering where to connect.
I happened to be in the area and took a ride on this trail out of curiosity. Had I known it was asphalt, I would have skipped it.
I make these observations as a seasoned mountain biker.
Drove almost 4 hours to ride this trail, which connects to the Ghost Town trail at Saylor's Park. I started in Indiana and rode the entire 10 1/2 miles. There's a definite downhill feel to it when starting in Indiana. There's no parking area at the trailhead in Indiana. I believe you can park at the IUP baseball field about 1/2 mile away or in IUP lot along the highway. (For no advertised parking, I dropped a star.) As others have stated it's a nice trail with a variety of scenery and a local brewery in Homer City. Trail is well marked.
I rode the Hoodlebug Trail on July 2 starting in Saylor Park near the town of Black Lick. The trail winds through a managed forest area for a mile or so before joining with an interstate highway. I blitzed the two mile section running parallel to the noisy highway before arriving in the town of Homer City. There is a circuitous route through town and a rest area with the local history placards and a bench or two. The trail continues on through a wooded section and then some farmland. There are several bridges and streams along the route where people stop to look and take pictures. You will see a lot of the IUP crowd running and biking along the route as you approach Indiana. I like this trail because it is well maintained and there are several historical sights along the way detailing industry from the 1900's. They tell you what a "hoodlebug" is, too.
Pretty trail!! It was a good challenge on "winter" legs. Mostly unshaded. Levity brewery is in Indiana, right off the trail. Great beer and awesome food!!! A much needed pit stop.
Great trail even in 40 degree rain we enjoyed it! Beautiful bridges and waterfalls. Some intermediate grades and fun turns. Leaves were not quite at peak but gorgeous.
The Hoodlebug offers the opportunity to walk, run or ride safely.
Do not be surprised to find avid cyclists and strong athletes along this trail. They know the Hoodlebug is a safe alternative to the highways. They also know this trail is not as flat as the Ghost Town Trail and they welcome the challenge. They will respect your space and will slow down to share the trail or invite you to join their effort.
To the charm of quiet sections under the trees and by the river the Hoodlebug offers the proximity of food and beverage stores.
This trail present, at times, the challenge of a rough surface. It is easy to forget the small inconvenience when you think of all the good attributes the Hoodlebug has.
I'm a regular rider of the nearby Ghost Town Trail (GTT), and found out about the Hoodlebug a few years ago upon a visit to the end of the GTT at Saylor Park. The trailhead for the Hoodlebug is here. The first mile or so out of Saylor Park to the Hoodlebug first goes along the road, and then up and down a few hills, but there are signs marking the way. If you're used to the GTT and other "typical" rail trails, you may not like the Hoodlebug. The first 6 miles are up and down hills, right along a pretty busy highway (Route 119). Also here the trail is mostly tar and chip, not crushed stone like the GTT, so it's a little rougher and bumpier ride. The trail goes through the town of Homer City, so there are some places to stop for a drink/snack if you need. There's a Bi-Lo slightly off the trail, and up a mile or so, there's a Sheetz. After the Sheetz, the trail levels out and goes through a nice woods section (although you can still hear the traffic of Route 119). The trail is relatively flat here until the end of the trail in Indiana (Rose Street). Like I said, if you're used to the flat rail trail like the GTT, you may not like the Hoodlebug. But if you like something "different", and a bit of a challenge, try the Hoodlebug.
Totally agree with the previous comment, this rail trail is beside RT119. There is a lot a road noise, clicking of the high power electric lines from the power plant, and a scenic view of the sewage treatment plant! I will stick to the Ghost Town trail for any future biking in this area of Pa.
This trail is somewhat rough and you have quite a few stop signs along the way. The trail mainly parallels Rt 119. So it can be noisy and less scenic. Otherwise, a nice experience riding this trail.
Rode from J P Saylor Park in Blacklick to Indiana. Slight 1-2 % grade in some sections as you head to Indiana. Great ride back with the same 1-2% downhill aided by tailwind.
Very nice neighbors on the trail, all say hello. great for avid and occasional cyclists. highly recommend this trail.
for a longer ride pick up the Ghost Town Trail at J P Saylor Park.
"I've ridden this trail several times over the years, and most recently this year after riding on the Heshbon section of the Ghost Town Trail. The trail will link with the Ghost Town Trail at Saylor Park in the town of Black Lick, but as of July 2006 there is a short unfinished ""missing link"" from the park and under the Route 119 bridge that is supposed to link the two trails together. I rode from Saylor Park and turned left up the Old Indiana Road, and went for about a mile or so to where the road crosses Route 119, and crossed over there. Route 119 is a 55mph 4-lane road, and is dangerous to cross...hence the underpass that they are planning to have cross under it near the park.
The newest south section of the trail from near Black Lick up to the Homer City Legion baseball field is around 3.5 miles long. This section of the trail runs along the west side of Route 119's south-bound lane, and is up on the embankment and parallel to the highway. This section is kind of a semi-course pavement that looks similar to a tar-and-chip road treatment...not as smooth or as ""fast"" as regular asphalt but still OK for a roadbike. Since this section is right next to the highway, it passes right across people's driveways, and various road intersections.
In Homer City you have to make a left turn on to the public street, near the BiLo supermarket, and ride for about a block to re-connect with the trail heading north. Leaving Homer City and heading north the trail still runs parallel to Rt.119, but is farther away from it and is more secluded in some places. Mostly the trail runs past various neighborhoods, and through short wooded sections. Along the way the trail passes over a few short bridges over creeks, and under a railroad trestle.
It's 6 miles for this section of trail from the Homer City baseball field, up until the trail ends in the parking lot of the IUP campus near the football field.
Overall it's a pretty nice trail, but it's more of a suburban trail, since it goes through towns and crosses various roads along it's length. It's not a secluded ""out in the woods"" type of trail like the nearby Ghost Town Trail. One thing that I did notice about it was that the surface seems to have gotten ""lumpier"" over the years in some places, probably due to frost heaves or tree roots under the surface. "
This is a very nice trail although it could use more restroom facilities. The trail will soon link up to the Ghost Town Trail at Dilltown.
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