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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.
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