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Notice: In July 2021, a storm exposed a steep drop off along one side of a portion of the trail's gorge section. As of November 2023, the washout is cordoned off with red tape and there is adequate space to navigate around it. Please exercise appropriate caution.
The Indian Creek Valley Bike and Hike Trail winds through the rugged hills in the former coal-mining region of southwestern Pennsylvania. Although remote, the trail passes through several small towns, where travelers can find food and drink at country markets and cafés. The locations of restrooms and drinking water are marked on the TrailLink map.
The trail traces the Indian Creek Valley Railroad corridor that got its start primarily hauling timber out of the mountains in 1906. The railroad soon added passenger cars to serve communities along the line. By the time the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad acquired it in 1926, lumbering had declined, but coal mining and coke production boomed.
As those industries dwindled, B&O stopped using the line in 1969, and Saltlick Township acquired the section between Champion and Indian Head for use as a trail, known today as Indian Creek Valley Bike and Hike Trail. The nonprofit Mountain Watershed Association later acquired other segments, which became the Indian Creek Valley Trail, explaining why the trail has two names.
Several miles of private property separate the main sections that comprise the 13.7-mile trail. The larger northern section runs alongside Indian Creek between Jones Mills and Indian Head. The isolated southern segment passes through scenic Indian Creek Gorge to the confluence with the Youghiogheny River. Long-range plans call for connecting these two segments and building a river crossing to link with the Great Allegheny Passage.
Alonzo Kalp Jr. Donegal Extension (1.7)
Beginning at the State Route 31/SR 381 intersection in Jones Mills, the trail runs southwest at the foot of the Roaring Run Natural Area on Laurel Ridge for about 1.5 miles to Champion on the Westmoreland–Fayette County line. Along the way, it passes a facility operated by Babcock Lumber and established during the timber-cutting boom.
In less than a mile, you’ll likely see families from the Mountain Pines Campground enjoying Indian Creek on the opposite shore. The creek also draws kayakers and rafters to its stretches of whitewater.
Saltlick Township (5.1)
Continuing seamlessly from the previous section, the trail heads south from County Line Road through the Saltlick Township to Indian Head Road. The Saltlick Township owns and manages this section of the trail.
The trail winds through the smaller communities of Champion, Melcroft, and Indian Head. At the old station stop of Melcroft (named for two mining executives), a 1-mile spur heads north and loops around a series of ponds used to treat polluted mine drainage.
About 2.5 miles south from County Line Road, the trail passes Melcroft Trestle. Formerly an abandoned railway trestle, this renovated pedestrian bridge provides a connection to a nearby park with picnic tables and restrooms. There are additional recreational areas along the route with various amenities, including more picnic tables and restrooms. There is another small park at the southern end of the trail, along with a local general store.
Indian Head Road to Route 381 (2.5 miles)
The trail heads south from Indian Head Road for another 1.5 miles, the last piece (for now) of the continuous 8ish-mile route from Jones Mills to the community of Indian Head.
Near White's Bridge, there is another trail segment. It's about a mile long and is not currently connected to any other part of the Indian Creek Valley Bike Trail. Both of the trail segments have finished surfaces and are open to the public. The rest of this trail section is still under development and additional mileage is in progress.
This short, out-and-back section of the trail is only accessible from its western end on Jim Mountain Road in Normalville.
Indian Creek Gorge (5.1 miles)
Paralleling Indian Creek through the woods, both ends of this trail section are currently out-and-backs. The western end is where Indian Creek meets the Youghiogheny River. The eastern end is the Steyer Bridge, a 140ft railroad bridge that was refurbished as a pedestrian bridge. Upon reaching either end, turn around and retrace your route. Neither end can be accessed directly from roads and must be reached via the trail.
Two parking areas along the route provide access to this section of the rail-trail. There is a trailhead with parking for seven cars on Killarney Road, just north of its intersection with Bottom Road and about 0.5 mile from its intersection with Mill Run Road/PA-381.
East of the Killarney Road Trailhead, there is a large new trailhead with a parking area. It is located off Mill Run Road/PA-381, just north of where the highway meets Killarney Road. Between the two trailheads, the rail-trail crosses Mill Run Road/PA-381, which is a fairly quiet two-lane road. Please exercise appropriate caution.
Heading west from the Killarney Road Trailhead, the path briefly heads north along the Mill Run Reservoir before heading west as it parallels Indian Creek. The rail-trail rolls downhill through dramatic scenery in Indian Creek Gorge to its western end where the creek joins the Youghiogheny River and the trail comes to a dead end. It is 4.05 miles from the Killarney Road Trailhead to the western end, which makes just over 8 miles round trip.
Heading east from the Killarney Road Trailhead, the rail-trail heads through the woods and crosses Mill Run Road/PA-381. Passing the new trailhead and continuing through the woods, the route returns to more closely paralleling Indian Creek until it crosses the refurbished Steyer Bridge. While crossing the bridge, enjoy panoramic views of the water. The bridge is the trail's eastern end and the bridge's northern end is blocked off as the route comes to a dead end. It is about 0.6 miles from the new Mill Run Road Trailhead to the bridge and about 1.05 miles from the Killarney Road Trailhead to the bridge.
In October 2023, the refurbished Steyer Bridge and the new trailhead on Mill Run Road opened to the public. As part of the project, the route from the new trailhead to the bridge was improved with a crushed gravel surface. This newly resurfaced section provides easy access to a calm section of Indian Creek. From both sides of the trail, there is public access to the forest and stream on Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC) property for fishing and swimming.
Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail. View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
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