Indian Creek Valley Hiking and Biking Trail

Along Indian Creek in Fayette County

The Indian Creek Valley trail runs for 6 miles from Champion through Indian Head to the Saltlick Township line along the east bank of Indian Creek, nestled in the valley between Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Ridge. The trail has a variety of surfaces, from crushed limestone to cinders. It has more grades and curves than you'd expect from a rail-trail.

The route was developed between 1906 and 1910 as the Indian Creek Valley Railroad, which carried passengers and freight down Indian Creek to meet the B&O Railroad on the north side of the Youghiogheny River. Above Melcroft, the primary freight came from the logging industry; below Melcroft it came from the mining industry. Since the freight was mostly headed downhill, this railroad could tolerate relatively steeper grades than most.

From Champion the trail runs south for about a mile through woods, then comes into sight of Mountain Pines Resort, an immense campground. Adjacent to the swimming pool at the back of the campground, a footbridge connects the campground and the trail. The trail then passes some homes and camps near Nebo, where it's called C-H Blvd.

Half a mile later, the trail passes a lake, then crosses Fowl Hill Rd (which leads to Melcroft) and enters the woods. Just after Fowl Hill Rd, a spur trail leads right, crossing Indian Creek on a refinished trestle, to the Melcroft trailhead and the nearby G&D store on PA381/711 for amenities.

Indian Creek Valley Hiking and Biking Trail

Location                                                 Champion to Indian Head, Saltlick Township, Fayette County

Trailheads                                                                                               Champion, Melcroft, Indian Head

Length, Surface                                                                                             6 miles, packed crushed stone

Character                                                                                    Little-used, wooded, shady, flat to rolling

Usage restrictions                                                                                   No motorized vehicles; no horses

Amenities                                                                            Rest rooms, bike shop, food, camping, fishing

Driving time from Pittsburgh                                                                                         1 hour south-east

Another pastoral mile and a half brings you to some picnic tables overlooking the creek. Shortly thereafter, the trail passes a couple of mine acid remediation ponds. Notice that the far one (the start of the remediation) is much oranger then the near on as it does its job of settling out the bad stuff. The trail then emerges from the woods at the auto junkyard just north of Sagamore. The next mile, to the Indian Head trailhead on Hull St, is more developed.

To continue on the trail, follow Hull St 300 ft to SR3089. Turn right on SR3089, go one block, and turn left on a dirt road between Resh's store and Indian Ck. This road swings left, climbs slightly, and crosses the railroad bed. Turn right here, at the sign for ICV Trail. The trail continues for about a mile to the Salt Lick Township line. Springfield Township does not currently plan to develop the portion of trail that runs from the township line to the Youghiogheny River. Even if they did, the projections about connecting this trail to the Youghiogheny River Trail are glossing over the task of crossing the Yough, unless Camp Carmel opens a ferry service.

Actually, unfinished trail goes about 4 miles more to PA653.  For the most part it is decent 2-track, with some washboarding and quite a few large puddles.  When the trail emerges on a road (SR##), turn right, go «## mile», and turn right on a dirt road just before a fire plug.  Within view of the turn, the road crosses a creek on a fair bridge.  Just past the bridge it reverts to trail and continues another «## mi» to PA653.  Somewhere in there, there's an undecked bridge

Development plans

The Mountain Watershed Association has acquired two miles of the rail line in order to extend the trail. In spring 2009 there was no sign of progress on this section.

Mountain Watershed Association: $100,000 for the development of the Indian Creek Valley Trail gorge section in Springfield, Westmoreland County. Project will include improving a 4.3-mile section of trail.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin headed south on PA711/PA381 from the point where they come together near Jones Mills. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take the PA Turnpike to Donegal and go left/east on PA711, then turn right/south on PA711/PA381.

Champion trailhead: From the junction of PA711 with PA381, follow PA711/PA381 south for about 1.3 miles to Champion. Champion post office will be on our right as you stop for the stop sign. Turn left /east on County Line Road. The trailhead is about a quarter mile down County Line Road across from the old post office, former bagel shop, now empty store (spring 2009). To park, continue a bit east on SR1058, cross the bridge, and park in the field on the right. The field is unmarked and in spring 2009 did not appear to be used very often.

Melcroft trailhead: From the junction of PA711 with PA381, follow PA711/PA381 south for about 3.6 miles to Melcroft. Just after passing Kessler Rd and crossing Champion Ck, turn right into trailhead parking. A spur trail runs from this parking lot, crossing PA711 and Indian Ck to join the main trail.

Indian Head trailhead: From the junction of PA711 with PA381, follow PA711/PA381 south for about 6 miles to Indian Head. Turn left (east) on SR1054. Just past Resh's store, turn left on Hull St, and follow this road past the trailhead to parking near the ballfield. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the ballfield from the river, along Hull St.


Rest rooms, water: Rest rooms at C-W Park, the Indian Head access area.

Bike shop, rentals: parts and repairs at Millers, along PA711/381 less than half a mile north of Melcroft

Restaurant, groceries: Chain convenience store with restaurant is about a quarter-mile west of the Champion trailhead, at the intersection of SR1058 with PA711/PA381. If you take the spur trail to Melcroft, you can turn right on PA711/PA381 to the G&D market and a gas station just across Champion Ck, then a bit farther to the Valley Inn restaurant (only 1/8 mile on the highway). Groceries and deli sandwiches at Resh's store across from the park in Indian Head.

Swimming, fishing: Swim at Mountain Pines Resort pool (fee), just across the trail bridge. There's unlikely to be enough water to swim in the creek at any time you'd be there. Good fishing in creek.

Winter sports: Cross-country skiing.

Wheelchair access: The gate heading south from Indian head is only 31 inches wide. Heading north you would have to travel 150 feet of grass surface to avoid a 29 inch gate.

Trail organization

Salt Lick Township
PO Box 403
Melcroft PA 15462-0403
(724) 455-2866

Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: Seven Springs, Donegal.


Text version from 2002 edition. Ridden 5/29/93 Research Park to Champion; 12/22/95 Champion-653; 12/3/95 653-Yough. Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 5/1993.

Editors' notes

References: GART90, 500GRT

500GRT says it goes from "C.W. Research Memorial Park" to Springfield.  We found park across from Resh store in Indian Head; trail actually goes 5 miles to Champion.  Where is Springfield??

If 23 miles are planned, it must start above Jones Mills or even above Horners Mill, because Canoe Guide shows 21 miles from Jones Mill to Youghiogheny River.

Reply to edit request from Rick Galef, of the township, 1/17/95