Indian Creek Valley Bike Trail

Pennsylvania

Indian Creek Valley Bike Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Fayette, Westmoreland
Length: 8 miles
Trail end points: S. of Indian Head Rd. (Indian Head) and Near SR 31/381& SR 711 (Jones Mill)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016980
Trail activities: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Indian Creek Valley Bike Trail Description

Open since 1989, the creek-side Indian Creek Valley Trail traces the route of the Indian Creek Valley Railraod (ICVRR). Just north of Indian Head, you will come to a cluster of acid mine drainage remediation ponds, designed to filter pollutants and sediment from water that passes through the old mines. About midway, there are a number of recreational areas for picnicking and other outdoor activities. At about mile 4, the trail reaches the Melcroft Trestle, a pedestrian bridge that leads to a nearby park with picnic tables and restrooms.

The trail looks to end at a street crossing in Indian Head. There is another small park here, along with a small general store. If you wish to continue on the trail, cross the street and follow the gravel road on the other side. In about a quarter mile you will come to another segment of the trail; it will be on your right as you are heading south.

Please note that the southern 1.5 miles of trail can get washed out and standing water may make it impassable.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Champion Trailhead, take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Exit 91 for Donegal. From the toll plaza, turn left onto Route 31 East and travel 2 miles. Turn right at Sarnelli's Market on Routes 381 and 711. Go about 1 mile to another stop sign, just before the Star Market. Turn left here onto County Line Road. Less than 0.25 mile down County Line Road, cross a small bridge and you will see the trailhead marked.

Indian Creek Valley Bike Trail Reviews

The day after bicycling portions of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, we found Indian Creek Valley Bike Bike Trail to be a pleasant morning ride before our party went its separate ways. Lush, green, and a good surface.

My wife and rode the trail from Indian Head to Champion. It was a pleasant ride following the path of Indian Creek. The trail was a combination of crushed stone, grass and dirt. We found the trail to be generally easy to ride, but there were sections where the trail was two stone paths with grass in the middle. There was no incline on the trail to speak of, but if you like going downhill on the way back, start at Indian Head rather than Champion.

At the Champion trail head, there is a trail that continues North labelled an extension. The extension was not very well maintained and ended up on Route 31 about 3/4 mile from Jones Mill. And to get to Route 31, we had to drag our bikes up a short, but steep set of make-shift stairs. I wouldn't suggest taking the extension. We then ended up biking down Route 31 to Jones Mill.

Also, if you park at Jones Mill, to get on the trail, it's necessary to ride down Rte 711 to the Champion trail head. We like trails, not highways, but that's just us.

In summary, if you ride from Indian Head to Champion, it's a nice, pleasant ride.

From the northern point at Jones Mills to the end point you'll have a easy crushed gravel trail. However if you are looking for a little more continue on past the south end gate and follow the cinder trail. The trail seems to end on the paved Pritts Rd. There you would follow the paved road a short distance to the right past two houses on the right and find a gravel lane on the right. Walk across the wooden bridge pass the trailer and pick up the cinder trail again. Continuing south you will cross RT 653 Jim Mt Rd (also a parking area). Following the cinder trail you will come to what seems to be the beginnings of a new bridge as the steel beams you will walk on are in very new condition. Continuing south you will cross RT 381 Mill Run Rd. To your left you will see a sign for Camp Christian on Killarney Rd. At the next parking area follow the road a short distance along the west side of Mill Run Reservoir where the cinder trail veers off on your left. The trail follows Indian Creek (wrongly marked as Youghiogheny River on Google map)down the gorge and ends at the railroad tracks on the east side of the Youghiogheny River. Across the river you will see Camp Carmel and the Great Allegheny Passage at Morgan Run. The trail ends here as there is no portage across the river- maybe someday.

Accordion

The ICV trail was one of the first rail-trails I rode back in 2008. The Jones Mills Extension had not been completed at that time, so with these short daylight hours, I thought it a good subject for a close trail only 22 miles from home. Yes, the two small Somerset Trust Bank lots in Champion are about the ONLY place to park near the north end of the trail. The 1.3 mile extension north of Champion is very crude, just two narrow tracks of crushed limestone, with lots of weed growth. Nevertheless the trail is smooth enough, and, south of Champion, most of the limestone cover is long gone. The JM Extension makes it right up to the south end of Jones Mills, and accessible to town at PA-31. There is a nice pizza shop on 31 at the west end of town. The trail can't go any further north, as the concrete piers are all that is left of a large bridge at the trail's northern terminus. That's a shame, because there is an interesting railroad tunnel at the railroad's former underpass of Route 31. Timber forested off Laurel Mountain exited to the B&O main via the ICV, southward, after the PW&S/Ligonier Valley RR outlet to the north closed in 1916. Heading south from Champion (We'll call that Mile 1.3), the trail is a "mild rollercoaster", but the ruling grade is definitely downhill from Champion. This trail offers a very beautiful overlook of the Indian Creek valley on its west side, with lots of interesting homes and backyards to either admire or mystify over. Classy homes, a gaggle of abandoned pickup trucks, and lots of summer camps down there. 2.8 miles south of Champion, the first railroad relic appears. The substantial, curved, steel plate girder Melcroft Trestle carries a 0.2 mile westward trail spur over to a decent-sized trail parking area on the west side of PA 381 / 711. For supplies or a snack, there is a general store just north of this highway crossing on 381 / 711. This is the most logical parking and access spot to the northern section of the trail. The ICV IS a nice, "friendly" trail, indeed a very "pleasant ride" in an unspoiled and quiet natural setting. -Rich Ballash 11/13/11

Another reviewer described the ride as "pleasant." That's exactly the word for it. The ride parallels the Indian River Creek, and is just nice. One note, the trail head off county road is easy to miss. It is directly across from the bank, immediately after the bridge. You can park at the bank during non-business hours.

"Found this delightful ride after joining a camping resort nearby. One of the nicest rides for its size I've done. Scenic, peaceful, and even well landscaped in spots. Above average! Would be nice to see it all the way to the river!"

"The ICV Trail is a pleasure for running and biking. It is not perfectly flat but has some nice gentle inclines. My six year old daughter can ride her bike beside me while I run it. Some walkers let their dogs run loose ahead of them, so keep an eye out."

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