Pittsburgh Mountain Biking : Hillman State Park

This twisty trail system is excellent for beginners; just watch the hunting schedule.

Mountain biking around Pittsburgh can be intimidating for beginning riders. Steep terrain, rocks, roots, and poorly marked trails can leave new riders feeling intimidated and overwhelmed. Hillman’s twisty, smooth, and relatively flat trails are much more welcoming.

Located just south of Raccoon Creek State Park, this trail system is known locally simply as Bavington. (Bavington is the closest town.) It’s really just an undeveloped park, and there are no facilities of any kind except a radio-controlled plane airport.

The park is also known as State Game Lands 432, which is important because hunting takes precedence here. During most of the fall and winter, Bavington’s trails are off-limits to bikes, except Sundays. (And there are actually three Sundays when hunting is legal. Check with the Game Commission before going.)

So why go? On the fall days when recreation takes over, you’ll have the park to yourself. It’s rare to see more than another rider or two out in the woods.

And here’s what you’ll find: 27 miles of singletrack crisscrossing the park’s 3,600 acres. Unlike most of the area’s mixed woodlands, there are acres of pine forests, which keep the underbrush to a minimum and offer some of the longest sightlines of any of the area’s trails.

The trails follow small ridgelines and have their fair share of roots but very few rocks. The climbs and descents can be steep, but never long. There are also plenty of doubletrack and dirt roads in the park, which are great for novice riders. Bonus: With the pine cover and ridgeline trails, Bavington often has dry trails after it rains.

A man biking down a dirt path in the forest

Recommended Ride 

Start at the Haul Road parking lot. This six-mile loop covers a little of everything in Bavington and leaves open options to add mileage. Head north from the parking lot on Switchback Trail and up a short hill. The trail soon crosses a road near the parking lot, then dips south. You’ll twist and turn your way across ridges and down into valleys; at the second road crossing at mile 4.1, continue across the road to Abby’s Trail. At mile 5.5, the trail pops out onto Haul Road. Turn left to return to the parking lot. Southwest of the parking lot is a connector trail to the rest of the singletrack.

Getting There

Take the Parkway West and Route 22 west to the Bavington exit. Turn left on Steubenville Pike. About 3.4 miles later, turn right at the “Radio Control Model Airport'' sign. This unmarked dirt road eventually becomes Haul Road. The parking area will be apparent a few minutes later.

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Where to Eat

Headed back to Route 22 and stop at the family-owned compound containing Raccoon Creek Winery, Kramer’s Greenhouse, and Coal Tipple Brewery. Now owned by the fourth-generation Kramers, they specialize in berry wines, a wide variety of beers, and fresh-baked pies. If you call ahead, they’ll have the pie of your choice hot and ready when you arrive. 


All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.