Mingo Creek County Park & Mondays Brewing Co

Washington County, PA

If you’re ever craving some hiking in Washington County, look no further than Mingo Creek County Park. This huge park is perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities and is a popular place for gathering in the summer. Our early spring visit was full of wildflowers, families playing in the creek and tons of people using the paved trail. The natural trail can be a bit harder to find but if you check out the blog post, I’ll show you how to find the elusive Orange trail at Mingo!

THE HIKE: Mingo Creek – Orange Trail

Orange Blaze!

Length: 7.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, horses, bikers
Parking: Large lot throughout park
H&H: 5/5

Mingo Creek County Park is located in Washington County and is managed by the county’s Parks and Recreation division. The park is probably best known for its two red, covered bridges situated about 1.5 miles apart along the Mingo Creek. This park is the perfect oasis no matter what your outdoors activities may be! There’s plenty of creek for fishing and splashing around, lots of pavilions to rent and space to have a picnic. There’s a 3-mile paved walking trail, numerous playgrounds, and even an observatory! But for us, we were on the hunt for the hiking trails. Now I have read on a number of blogs and trail sites that this trail is difficult to find and completely overgrown. I’m here to say that you shouldn’t go by everything you read! 

Now, I will say, the signage for the trails is not great. It’s very clear where the paved trail is, but you have to keep your eyes peeled for the natural trail. There are no signs and the trail blazes are very small. We park at coordinates: 40.200415039419916, -80.02756796434414 because I caught a glimpse of a trail going off into the woods. This trail eventually met up with the orange trail and then we had a lovely hike. HOWEVER, if I were to go back, I would suggest parking at The West Entrance (40.1931395787859, -80.05565122282385). The orange trail goes into the woods before the parking area, by the trail sign posting! Now keep in mind that I did this hike in the early spring so it is very likely that others’ experiences of overgrown paths and difficult trail entrances can be the case as the summer wears on! Another potential deterrent for some hikers is the fact that it is a mixed use trail, one of the uses being equestrian. I’ve found some equestrian trails to really suffer from mud but thankfully this one wasn’t too. 

Okay now some really good things about this trail! SO many wildflowers! I was thrilled to find Dutchman’s Breeches, trillium, Virginia bluebells, and so many more. This trail was also very secluded and we only saw a few other hikers on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Finally, I liked that the trail offered some incline changes and was a great workout. Someday I’d like to come back and complete the whole 12-mile perimeter loop! And the absolute best part of this trail? Dipping your sore feet into the refreshing stream at the end. This is an ideal hike to pack a picnic to have beside the creek at the end! 

Overall, despite some of the negative reviews I had seen, I thought Mingo Creek County Park was absolutely delightful and one of my favorite hikes of the year so far. I know that we’ll be back!

THE BEER: Monday’s Brewing Co.

Address: 1055 Waterdam Plaza Dr, Peters Township, PA 15317
Distance from Trail Head: 8.3 miles, 15 mins 
Website: https://mondays.beer/
Food?: Light snacks, BYOF
Details: small outdoor patio, dog friendly outside

So what makes this Peters township brewery unique? I think you can probably guess from the name! Monday’s Brewing is always open on Monday, a day that most breweries are closed. In fact, they offer special deals for service industry workers on Monday, since that is the day a lot of bars and restaurants are closed! 

Mondays Brewing Co. is located on Route 19 in Peters Township. They’re in a small storefront that has indoor and outdoor seating. Typically you can find 12 taps, sometimes featuring other local craft beers or beverages. When we visited, they had one guest tap, Arsenal cider, Apis mead and the rest all in house brews. They also have a small cocktail list for anyone that’s not a beer drinker! Mondays like to showcase a wide variety of brews so odds are you’ll find a new favorite on the list!

This one has been on my list for a while and I’m so glad we were finally able to squeeze in a visit! I’m always glad to have another place in the South Hills to find good beer.


Our Beer:

  • Pink Boots – NEIPA – 6.5%
  • Tangled Aggression – Red Ale – 6.8%
  • Haze Agitated – NEIPA – 6.8%
  • Plaza Beer – Mexican Lager – 5.3%

RCT Challenge Training Hike #2

Creighton, PA

Another training hike for the RCT challenge! Let me tell you, my legs were WRECKED after this one. This was officially the longest hike I’ve never done and by far the biggest elevation gain. And I’ve hiked National Parks people! Thank god I’ve had ToryTalksTrails keeping me on task for this training! We’re slowly building miles, gaining elevation, and snacking hard. Has anyone else started their training for the challenge??

THE HIKE: Rachel Carson Trail – Saxonburg Rd to Agan Park

Length: 11.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2800 ft
Difficulty: Challenging
Time: 4.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Small pull off for 3-4 cars. No bathrooms
H&H: 4/5

Once again, Tory and I did a point to point trail, leaving one car at Agan Park and driving the other to our starting point at Saxonburg road. If you’re looking to do this section hike, here are the coordinates: 

Saxonburg Road: 40.65513180064524, -79.72686400487738
Agan Park: 40.56013506403363, -79.78197053025322

Having done about 9 miles on our last training hike, we decided to up it to around 11 this time! Now this section of the hike is actually part of the full RCT Challenge, so I won’t actually be hiking this section in June. BUT I still think it’s super helpful to hike as much of the trail as possible to get a good feel for the hills and how much stamina you have!

What this section lacked in stream crossing, it really made up for in elevation. Our feet stayed (mostly) dry but, man were my legs throbbing towards the end! I cannot believe how much hiking with a friend for these long training ones has helped me get through! If I was on my own, I don’t know that I would have kept with it. Like most of the RCT, this section of the trail varies a lot in landscape. There were road sections, wide open fields, heavily wooded areas and lots of steep inclines. I was very grateful not to have a heavy pack on and at times I would have liked a trekking pole to help with balance. Undignified butt scooting definitely was happening! Also plenty of snacks is an absolutely must for this trail! I’m still a newbie with planning hikes so I probably didn’t bring enough to fuel me. I stuck with an apple, peanut butter pretzels, and a granola bar. I will definitely need to add in some electrolytes, especially as it gets hotter! 

Have you ever trained for a long hike? What are your go-to trail snacks?

Thanks to my friend Tory for planning out these training hikes! Check out her awesome blog that is full of hiking resources: https://mytrailsaremany.com/. You can also follow her adventures on instagram: @torytalkstrails

RCT: Springdale to Emmerling Park & Leaning Cask Brewing

Springdale, PA

Big News and Big Hills! I’ll be tackling the Homestead Challenge aka the Half Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. That means in June, I’ll be hiking 19 miles in one day. Am I crazy? Maybe! Thankfully, the weather is getting nicer and I’m able to get out for some training hikes! The first section I tackled was the starting point of the half challenge at Springdale High School, close to the Rachel Carson Homestead. A big shout out to Tory from MyTrailsAreMany for getting me out on the trail to start training! This hike is a point to point (one way) hike which is best done with two cars. You’ll trek just under 9 miles and gain 1,365ft in elevation! This hike isn’t for the faint of heart but is a great way to get a taste of the RCT

THE HIKE: RCT – Springdale to Emmerling

Length: 8.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,365 ft
Difficulty: Challenging
Time: 3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lots at either endpoint. Bring two cars to do Point-to-Point
H&H: 4/5

Training for the RCT Challenge is best done by tackling large sections of the trail. It’s best to do it with a partner or group so that you can carpool to the trailhead and leave another car at the endpoint. If going solo, just be aware that you’ll have to double back on yourself a lot! 

My friend Tory from MyTrailsAreMany, reached out about wanting to start training together. She did the Homestead Challenge last year and is going for the Full Challenge this year. Talk about hiking goals! Tory suggested this section of the RCT from Springdale to Emmerling Park because it had some big hills and was the first section of the Homestead Challenge. This was the perfect intro to the Challenge for me because it was the longest hike I’d done so far this year and the hills were NO JOKE. It definitely helped me set a baseline of where I need to improve! J and I were so grateful to have Tory as our guide and time keeper too. 

So, as I mentioned, this trail section starts at Springdale High School parking lot, right next to the baseball field. From there, head down Marion Ave where you’ll pass the original home of Rachel Carson. It’s undergoing some renovations right now, but hopefully will be back open soon. Continue to the end of Marion Ave where you’ll see a tree line and finally head into the woods. Always keep your eyes peeled for the yellow RCT blaze. You should almost always be able to see the next blaze from where you are. Be aware that at many spots along the trail there are intersecting paths and it can be easy to get off course. Let the yellow blazes guide you! 

This section will lead you through woods, along some streets, through a couple streams, and up and down several big hills. Expect to have some wet feet along the way and remember that undignified butt scooting is always an option on those hills! Lots of water and plenty of snacks are a must for these hikes. 

If you’re interested in doing the Homestead Challenge (19 miles) or the Full Challenge (36 miles), there’s still time to enter! You can find the registration page here. If you’re already signed up for the challenge and are looking to start training, the RCT Conservancy has a number of orientation hikes and training hikes coming up or find a friend (like me!) to hike with! 

How do you prepare for long hikes? Got any leg strengthening exercises to share with me?

THE BEER: The Leaning Cask Brewing Co.

Address: 850 Pittsburgh St, Springdale, PA 15144
Distance from Trail Head: 0.5 miles, 2 mins
Website: https://www.leaningcaskbrewing.com/
Food?: BYOF, Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly

The best thing about leaving our car at Springdale for this hike? Leaning Cask Brewery is only 0.2 miles away! I’ve had my eye on Leaning Cask for ages but it always seemed so far out of the way. Thankfully this hike was the perfect reason to stop. Although I still feel bad for the amount of mud (and probable stank) that we left at the bar. Anyone else ever feel bad for going somewhere after a particularly muddy hike? I really need to start bringing a change of shoes! 

Anyway, Leaning Cask is a great post-hike spot because they’ve got a large outdoor seating area as well as frequent food trucks on the weekend. They’ve also got an awesome taplist with so many different beer types, as well as some local wine. Also, true to their name, they’ve got some beer on cask! 

Cask ale – Also known as Real Ale, Cask Beer goes through a final fermentation in a cask or barrel. It features a slight carbonation and is served unfiltered at “cask temperature” (around 55F).

The Leaning Cask has been bringing an English pub flair to Springdale since 2016. The owners found themselves heavily influenced by English pub culture and wanted to bring that warmth to their brewpub in PA. You’ll also notice that the two are big dog lovers, as evidenced by many of their beer names. Hence, the pub is friendly to well-behaved and leashed doggos. 

Our Beer:

  • Goldendoodle – Golden Ale – 4.2%
  • Um…That’s On Fire – American IPA – 5.6%
  • Celestial Canine – NEIPA – 6%
  • Pedigree: Blood Orange & Cranberry – Fruited Sour – 6.8%
Photo cred: MyTrailsAreMany
Photo cred: MyTrailsAreMany

Also be sure to check out https://mytrailsaremany.com/ for hiking planning guides, tips and gear, and more!