Just as the Five Star Trail provides a traffic-free alternative to US119 south of Greensburg, the Hoodlebug trail serves the same purpose along US119 south of Indiana. The Hoodlebug parallels US119 for 14 miles from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Campus in Indiana to Cornell Rd just east of Blairsville. The northern 8.7 miles, the main line trail, follows the route of a battery operated passenger car fondly known as “The Hoodlebug”. At Lloyd St the trail heads into the upper reaches of a flood control lake and follows Two Lick Ck and Blacklick Ck for 2.0 miles to Saylor Park. At Saylor Park the Hoodlebug Extension begins at the junction with the Ghost Town Trail. The extension first follows neighborhood streets, then a bike trail separated from US119 by a jersey barrier, then a wide shoulder for total of 3.5 miles. The extension segment of this trail is a link in the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor and the trail is one of the trails in the Trans Allegheny Trails System (page NE-166).
Location Indiana to Cornell Rd in Indiana County
Trailheads Indiana, Homer City, Red Barn, fisherman’s access under 119, Saylor Park
Length, Surface 14.2 miles total (12.2 asphalt, 2.0 small-town streets)
Character Uncrowded, wooded, shady, rolling, with a couple of hills
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles
Amenities Food, lodging
Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour 20 minutes east
This trail is divided into two segments:
Hoodlebug Mainline—10.7 miles following the original trolley line from Indiana south to Saylor Park.
Hoodlebug Extension—3.0 miles extending the original trail from Saylor Park farther south toward Blairsville.
Hoodlebug Mainline—10.7 miles
As with other trails built on trolley lines, there are more grades than usually found on rail-trails, plus a few actual hills, where the trail deviates from the trolley line. This part of the trail features an interesting mix of scenery: through woodlands, past farms, playing fields, small towns, strip mines, and the upper reaches of the flood control zone in Conemaugh Lake. Portions of this section are close to the US119 four-lane, high speed highway, separated from the highway by grass, a sound wall or a row of houses.
This trail begins in Indiana, where Rose St Ext crosses the railroad tracks. This is at the southwest corner of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and its existing campus bike lanes. The trail goes south from here along the west bank of Stony Run.
Threaded artfully between roads and highways, the trail runs south through the woods to Indian Springs Rd (old US422) and soon passes under new US422, while remaining next to Stony Run. A half-mile later it bends away from the highway and continues through the woods to just north of Homer City. The trail here feels surprisingly isolated, despite some traffic noise. In Homer City it travels along the edge of a Sheetz parking lot (mile 4) and several other businesses. Half a mile past the Sheetz, Floodway Park has a trailhead and a small museum.
Shortly after crossing Yellow Ck in Homer City, the off-road trail stops at Church St and follows painted bike lanes on local roads for three blocks. Church St is one-way, but the bike lane allows bicycles to go in either direction. In two short blocks, when the bike lane ends at Elm St, the trail crosses the street and turns left/west onto the sidewalk, then turns right/south onto the trail. From here the trail continues past the Rosebud Mining Plant and goes for 1.5 miles, past another trail parking area, to the end of the FMC ballfield.
After the ballfield, the trail returns to parallel the highway for a noisy 2.3 miles to Lloyd Rd, where it turns right/northwest along Lloyd for 1.2 miles with no traffic. It then ducks into the woods and descends to follow Two Lick Ck downhill for a half-mile.
The bottom of the hill is at the outer edge of the Conemaugh Flood Control Project, at about elevation 960 feet. On rare occasions after heavy rain or snowmelt, this section of trail might be under water. See the discussion of the Flood Control Project on page NE-182. Leaving Two Lick Ck, the trail crosses under US119 and goes upstream along Blacklick Ck, passing through a fisherman’s access and up an embankment on a steep grade through an old strip mine. After half a mile it descends steeply to Old Indiana Rd. A right/southwest turn on the road soon leads to the entrance to Saylor Park.
Hoodlebug Extension—3.0 miles
Passing through the Saylor Park parking lot and out the other side, the trail turns left/south just past the basketball courts and goes 300 feet to a “T” intersection. The left branch is the start of the Ghost town trail (page NE-198), which goes to Dilltown, Vintondale, Nanty Glo and Ebensburg. The right branch is the Hoodlebug Extension, which goes to Cornell Rd and eventually will go to Blairsville and on toward Pittsburgh.
This extension goes 0.3 miles on crushed limestone and then turns left/south into another park alongside a fenced-in pavilion. From here the trail follows back roads of Black Lick for 1.6 miles. The route is well signed (Sep 2017) and not difficult to follow, but it does have a couple of hills. The trail takes the first right/west on Park Dr and after four blocks turns left/south on Blaire Rd. One block later it crosses Main St, which has traffic. The trail follows Blaire Rd turning right at the “T” with Marshall Heights Rd. After a right-left jog on Devinney Hollow Rd, a block later the trail turns right/northwest on Clair St and heads towards US119. Just before US 119 a left/southwest turn off the road leads down the hill to a sharp right/west turn to enter a short, straight tunnel under US119. Coming out the far side of the tunnel, the trail does a climbing left turn to become level with US119.
Once level with US119, the next 0.7 miles of trail climbs steeply to Cornell Rd, separated from US119 by a jersey barrier on the left. This section is only 4 to 8 feet wide with a few potholes and some gravel washed off the hillside (2017). Cornell Rd starts out with a nice bicycle-friendly shoulder for the first half mile to Innovation Dr, and then turns into the typical Pennsylvania two lane country road as it heads towards Blairsville.
Extensions of the ride
The next segment to the west along the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor will eventually connect to the Blairsville Riverfront Trail (page NE-187).
The next segment to the east along the IHTC Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Corridor is a seamless connection to the Ghost Town Trail (page NE-198) at Saylor Park.
At Rose St, the north end of the trail connects with campus bike routes that go up Rose St to Saltsburg Av, along the creek to PA286, and through the main parking lot. An additional two miles can be added to the trip with these bike routes.
Half a mile south of Rose St, a short spur trail to University Dr branches off and climbs briskly to the west for a third of a mile.
At present (2018), Indiana County has detailed plans and some construction money to build a pedestrian bridge across the four-lane divided highway (US22) and then connect off-road to the Blairsville Riverfront Trail.
There are hopes to improve the section of trail between the US119 underpass and Cornell Rd that is separated from US119 by only a jersey barrier.
Vicinity: Directions begin headed northbound on US119 from its intersection with US22 east of Blairsville. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, go east on US22, noting that US22 and US119 are the same road for over 10 miles before US119 turns north.
Indiana (north) trailhead: Follow US119 for 9.7 miles north from US22, take the Wayne Av/US422 exit. Go north 1.9 miles and turn left/west on Rose St. The north end of the trail is just the across Stony Run. After crossing the railroad tracks turn right/north. Parking is on the right, but the entrance is a short distance down the road.
Homer City trailhead: Follow US119 6.2 miles north from US22. Turn left on Old US119 (Main St). Go 1.5 miles and immediately after crossing the creek turn right/east into the parking area of Floodway Park. The trail is the other side of the parking area, near the red caboose.
Red Barn trailhead: Follow US119 6.2 miles north from US22. Bear left/north on old US119 (Main St,). Go 0.3 miles and take the first left/west on Red Barn Rd. Go 0.1 miles on Red Barn Rd to the stop sign, then cross the trail and turn left/south on Booster Dr. Go 0.2 miles to trail parking. To get on the trail, return 300 feet along Booster Dr to the end of Michna Ln, where a path connects the road to the trail.
Fishermen Access at Blacklick Creek trailhead: Follow US119 2.8 miles north from US22. About 500 feet after crossing Blacklick Ck, turn right/west into the access area. Follow this road to the creek. The trail is alongside the creek.
Saylor Park trailhead: Follow US119 2.0 miles north from US22. At a traffic light, turn right/east on Main St and go 0.7miles to the entrance of Saylor Park. Turn left/west into the parking lot. To get on the trail to Indiana, exit the parking lot and turn left/north, cross the bridge and immediately turn left/north between the gate posts. To get to the trail to Cornell Rd, continue out the far end of the parking lot, turn left/south just past the basketball courts, turn right/west at the “T” and follow the signs. This parking lot is also the western trailhead for the Ghost Town Trail (page NE-198).
Rest rooms, water: Chemical toilets at several points along the trail, including the Red Barn trailhead.
Bike shop, rentals: None.
Restaurant, groceries: In Homer City and Indiana (via the IUP bike lanes) and along Indian Spring Rd. Snack/Pizza in Graceton.
Camping, simple lodging: Motels near US422, along Indian Spring Rd, and in Indiana.
Swimming, fishing: Blacklick Ck and Yellow Ck are the victim of long-standing acid mine pollution. Some of the smaller creeks have clean water, but others carry the acid drainage that winds up in Blacklick Ck. Swimming is not permitted in any of the clean streams, let alone the polluted ones. Note the fisherman’s access is in name only. They built the road to work on the bridge and just left it. The creek will not support fish (Oct 2017).
Winter sports: Cross-country skiing. Snowmobiles not permitted on trail but are permitted in State Game Lands.
Wheelchair access: Good, but grades on the trail are greater than on many rail trails and the surface is rough. In particular the section south of the US119 underpass is steep, narrow, and potholed with gravel, (2017).
Support Group Operations
Maps, guides, other references
Brochure published by Indiana County Parks and Trails.
USGS Topographic Maps: Indiana, Bolivar.
Text version 22 Jul 2018. Drove Rose St 7/2018, Biked Rose St to Park Dr 11/2015, drove Park Dr to Clair St 9/2017, biked Clair St to Cornell Rd 9/2017. Drove Cornell Rd 9/2017. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 11/2015.