Last Updated on September 22, 2020 by Jeremy
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While there are many bike trails in Pittsburgh worth exploring, one weekend we decided to go on a bit of a day trip east to Indiana, PA (roughly 60 miles from Pittsburgh) to check out a trail that is new to us.
This was the 10-mile Hoodlebug Trail which runs from Indiana to Black Lick, PA. With a relatively well-maintained path and an abundance of things to see (plus a few breweries nearby we enjoyed after), we certainly had a fun day out!
What You Can See on the Hoodlebug Trail
The Hoodlebug Trail offers a mix of things to see on its 10-mile path.
For the most part, the trail offers a mix of wooded segments, river and creek crossings (we counted at least five or six over the ride), passing through boroughs, a few train and highway overpasses above you, and segments that pass along a somewhat busy road as well. One moment you'll be in the woods surrounded by gorgeous trees, the next you'll be in a neighborhood, and then back in the trees and over a creek (and so on).
If you time your visit right, the Homer City Historical Society also maintains a small museum inside a train car parked prominently on the trail, but it was sadly closed during our ride. We'll have to return to check this out in the future!
While there doesn't feel like a natural progression in changing scenery in any capacity, the alternating landscapes do change every mile or so to keep the trail fresh and interesting. However, it is worth noting that there are a few long stretches where you do bike along a busy state route for a while. It is divided, but less than exciting than others and a bit exposed to the sun. (Likewise, you'll see a number of industrial businesses including a recycling center, the wastewater plant, a power plant off in the distance, and more.)
For those who do not want to explore the entire path, we'd recommend sticking closer to the Indiana end of the trail as it seemed to have a slightly higher concentration of forest and river segments over the southern end. Thankfully, this section is a bit nicer to bike on as well!
Biking on the Hoodlebug Trail
As far as enjoying the Hoodlebug Trail is concerned, you're in luck- this one is particularly easy to get out on for a walk or ride. But as with all trails there are a few things worth noting.
The Hoodlebug Trail is primarily crushed gravel, but we did notice that it is fairly fine throughout most of the trail (especially closer to Indiana) that it almost gave the impression of being asphalt. If it weren't for subtle bumps and minor unevenness here or there, you may forget at times when riding.
That being said, the last mile or so near the Black Lick end (and the Ghost Town Trail connector) had much larger pieces of gravel and was rocky, bumpy, and terribly uneven. As such, be prepared for some maneuvering if you continue all the way to the southern end of the trail just as a precaution. The change here is gradual, but you'll notice it.
From there, it is also worth noting that segments of the trail have a 1-2% grade and we generally noted the steepest segments to be on the two ends of the trails (and, generally speaking, was more uphill going towards Indiana as opposed to away). Despite riding the full 10 miles, we did not think that the hill segments were generally too bad, and most often were followed with an immediate decline to pick up some speed.
Finally, there are a number of parking areas near the trail as listed on the Hoodlebug Trail site. We parked at the IUP South Campus access which is located close to the trailhead in Indiana (at the sports complex for the college- seemingly no permit or fee to park) and connects up to the Hoodlebug via a roughly 0.5-mile connector. Here you need to bike along the main road a few hundred feet to an unmarked access point (it is wide and paved, hard to miss, and is shown on Google Maps) and then take a ride down a short but somewhat steep hill to connect up to the Hoodlebug. Naturally, this one is a slog going back up on the return so be prepared for it if you park there!
Overall, the Hoodlebug Trail is a nice 10-mile trail connecting Indiana to Black Lick, PA. While we may not necessarily recommend driving 60+ minutes from Pittsburgh purely for a ride, if you live closer to the trail or want to combo it up with a visit to a brewery like Levity Brewing (which can be accessed from the trail) and Noble Stein Brewing, or even the Jimmy Stewart Museum nearby, it is a great spot for a ~2-hour bike ride round trip plus additional detours.