With about 72 percent of its 420 square miles forested, The Blacklick Creek Watershed abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities.
Hiking, Biking, Jogging, and Cross-Country Skiing
The Ghost Town Trail, a 46 mile-long (and growing) rails-to-trails project extends from from the village of Blacklick in Indiana County to Ebensburg, the government seat of Cambria County. The main trail segment parallels Blacklick Creek and its South Branch, while the Rexis/C&I trail extension runs from Vintondale parallel to the North Branch Blacklick Creek and Elk Creek before circling back toward the village of Cardiff. A spur connects the C&I extension with Duman Lake Park in Cambria County, and another spur is under development from Revloc to Nanty Glo, which will complete a closed loop between the two towns. The Hoodlebug Trail, another rails-to-trails project, extends 10 miles along an abandoned railroad grade from Indiana to Blairsville, and provides a mixed experience of wooded trail sections along with a more urbanized setting. Left in its natural state, the Blacklick Valley Natural Area has a six mile trail system in approximately 700 acres that straddle the Blacklick Creek. For additional information, see the following websites at www.indianacountyparks.org. and http://www.cambriaconservationrecreation.com.
In addition, Duman Lake County Park, located in Cambria County, offers hiking trails as does Yellow Creek State Park, Indiana County. The thousands of acres of state gamelands located within the Blacklick Creek watershed also include many miles of gated roads, generally closed to motor vehicles, which make excellent hiking or skiing destinations. Fluorescent orange clothing is recommended during firearms hunting seasons. Activities such as biking and horseback riding on trails in parks and gamelands are usually restricted to certain sections, so prospective users should visit the agency websites for detailed information while planning an adventure.
Yellow Creek State Park has a 720 acre lake ideal for fishing. It is stocked with warm-water game fish. The park’s website can be found at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/yellowcreek. Duman Lake in Cambria County is a 21-acre impoundment stocked by the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Vetera (Colver) Reservoir in Cambria County is also managed for public fishing by PFBC. The Fish and Boat Commission trout stocking streams include Brush Creek, Laurel Run, Little Yellow Creek, South Branch Twolick Creek, and Yellow Creek in Indiana County and a section of North Branch Blacklick Creek and Stewart Run in Cambria County. There are also many streams that support brook trout populations and naturally reproducing brown trout. More information may be found at http://www.fishandboat.com. With water quality improving, trout clubs have formed in Nanty Glo and Vintondale along the South Branch Blacklick Creek and those groups stock sections of the stream. Catch-and-release fishing ins strongly recommended on this and all recovering watersheds where fish populations are vulnerable.
Boats with up to 20 horsepower are permitted on the 720 acre Yellow Creek State Park lake. A boat rental in the day use area offers motor boats, canoes, paddle boats, pontoon boats and small sailboats. The park’s website may be found at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/yellowcreek. Unpowered boats are also permitted on Duman Lake and Vetera Reservoir.
Hunting and Trapping
State Gamelands 79, 185, 273, and 276 are managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and are open to the public for hunting, trapping, and fishing. These four gamelands include nearly 17,000 acres of publicly accessible recreational lands. While usually thought of as a destination for hunters, gamelands offer excellent opportunities for other outdoor activities, including hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing. The PGC website (www.pgc.state.pa.us.) provides additional information about these gamelands including maps.
Friends of the Parks organization conducts an extensive series of nature programs. This is a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to providing education programs in the Indiana County Parks and Yellow Creek State Park.
Visit http://www.indianacountyparks.org/happenings/programsnewpage1.html for a schedule of programs.
The Todd Bird Club was established to promote the appreciation and conservation of birding in Indiana, Armstrong, and Cambria counties. The club holds field trips every Saturday during the spring and fall migrations. Field trip destinations include Yellow Creek State Park, Crooked Creek Park, Pine Ridge County Park, Blue Spruce County Park. Blacklick Valley Natural Area and others. See the Todd Bird Club website http://toddbirdclub.org for activities.