A beautiful and breathtaking sight any time of the year, the Indian Creek Valley Trail offers a stunning view for hikers and bikers to enjoy nature’s sights and the sounds from the Indian Creek.
Now, there’s a little more to take in. The 4.3-mile gorge section of the trail, which stretches from Route 31 in Jones Mills to the confluence of Indian Creek and the Youghiogheny River, has been completed.
“The gorge provides a pathway through an area of exceptional diversity,” said Jace Marsh, an AmeriCorps representative at the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA).
“Many unique species of plants and animals call this special place home,” he said.
To be able walk, run or ride down the side of a large gorge among beautiful large hemlocks with cliffs, large boulders and all sorts of wildlife is truly a unique experience, according to Marsh. And the best part of the trail, he said, is that it’s a nice, easy trip down the gorge that pretty much anyone at any level of fitness, can tackle.
Although Marsh came to the watershed after the completion of the trail, he understands the blood, sweat and tears that went into the completion of the project.
A year ago, members of the MWA and the Indian Creek Valley Trail Committee were focused on raising the additional funds needed to put the final touches on the gorge section of the trail, after the cost of its rehabilitation came with a higher price than expected.
Over four years, many people labored to correct serious drainage issues and regrade the previously existing railroad bed into a trail that can be enjoyed by everyone, Marsh said.
To finish the project, the MWA and the trail committee put a call out to the community; individuals and organizations responded, donating about $170,000 and propelling the project to completion.
On Aug. 7, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with more than 70 trail lovers in attendance, along with friends, donors, and members of the community. Several key people spoke at the ceremony and thanked those who helped to make the completion of the trail a reality.
Now, the MWA and the trail committee plan to keep pushing forward to expand the trail.
Marsh said they’d like to take the trail across the Youghiogheny River and connect it with the Great Allegheny Passage. No small task, to be sure, Marsh said, noting that the estimated to cost more than $1 million. He said it’s part of the MWA’s 10-year plan.
There is an existing railroad trestle that crosses the river, which the watershed will use to either take the trail across the river — either atop or underneath the trestle.
The trail is now open to hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers, but ATVs and motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail, which is monitored by the state Game Commission. Access to the gorge section is at the unofficial trailhead near the Indian Creek Valley Reservoir, although the actual start of the section is further down the trail.
For more information on the trail, visit the trail’s website at www.indiancreekvalleytrail.com.