This trail will preserve the historic and
cultural value of the Bellefonte Central Railroad, provide recreational
and commuting alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians, and
furnish access into the interior of The Arboretum at Penn State.
The sign identifying the trail acknowledges
the project's regional partners and funding agencies.
Four years of hard work and dedication by regional partners and
the project management team have culminated in the official opening
of the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail.
The trail follows the former Bellefonte Central Railroad bed
for nearly a mile through University land that will become The
Arboretum at Penn State. Hikers and bicyclists can now travel
a safe alternative route to campus from residential developments
such as Toftrees and Cedar Cliff in the north, and people of all
ages can enjoy a scenic recreational corridor through
Big Hollow, next to the University Park campus.
On May 19, 2006, the Arboretum hosted a brief ribbon-cutting
ceremony to acknowledge the partners who made this rail trail
possible. Municipal partners and participants in the Centre Region
Bicycle Coalition's annual Bike-to-Work Day heard remarks
by Dr. Kim Steiner, the Arboretum director, and by the following
guest speakers (featured with Dr. Steiner in the photo below):
- Jim Eckert, chief of staff for state Sen. Jake Corman
- Karen Michael, assistant district executive for design (Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation)
- Wes Fahringer, regional adviser (Pennsylvania Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources)
- Robert Crum, planning director (Centre Regional Planning Agency)
Erdman/Anthony Associates, Inc.
(L to R) Karen Michael,
Robert Crum, Kim C. Steiner, Jim Eckert, and Wes Fahringer
shared ribbon-cutting honors at the May 19, 2006, opening
of the trail.
Immediately following the ribbon-cutting, those
present were invited to walk the trail to celebrate its completion.
LOCATION OF THE RAIL TRAIL
View of Big Hollow in autumn along the
From Sunset Park at the end of McKee Street in the College Heights
neighborhood of State College, Pennsylvania, visitors can access
the rail trail by following the paved McKee Street/Clinton Avenue
Bike Path approximately 1,200 feet to the west, where the trail
intersects the bike path.
The rail trail follows the abandoned right-of-way for the Bellefonte
Central Railroad to the north for approximately one mile. Eventually,
Penn State will extend the trail under the Mount Nittany Expressway
(I-99) to the Penn State/Toftrees property line approximately
600 feet to the northwest of the overpass, and The Village at
Penn State will connect to it from the northeast. As a major artery
in the Arboretum’s circulation system, the rail trail will
ultimately provide access to various features such as created
wetlands, agricultural research facilities, restored woodlands,
and the hybrid chestnut plantation.
Sunset Park, with its parking and restroom facilities, serves
as the trail head.
The trail is 10 feet wide with three-foot grass shoulders on
each side. The trail surface is crushed limestone with a short
section of asphalt where the trail crosses an existing service
road (Rocky Top Lane) used only by Penn State vehicles.
Looking south from the trail's end.
The bollards in the distance were installed to prevent
motorized vehicles from entering the trail from Rocky
OUTSTANDING SUPPORT BY COMMUNITY
Support for the rail trail has been strong and demonstrative.
In addition to the municipal governments and bike enthusiasts
who supported the grant applications, local elected officials,
conservancies, the local transportation authority, business and
tourist organizations, and legislators provided letters endorsing
From October 2001 through the next spring, the Centre Rails-to-Trails
Association organized volunteers who worked regularly to clear
brush from approximately 2,700 feet of the railroad bed to facilitate
surveying and designing the trail. These volunteers ranged in
age from 8 to 75, and represented University employees, families
who live near the trail, other local residents, and out-of-town
guests who are rails-to-trails enthusiasts.
With the help of volunteers coordinated by the Centre Region
Bicycle Coalition on the United Way Day of Caring on Thursday,
October 2, 2003, and again on Thursday, October 7, 2004, the initial
segment of the trail was twice reclaimed. The University assisted
in these efforts by providing arborists and a chipping machine.
Now that the trail has been built, members of the Centre Rails-to-Trails
Association have volunteered to patrol the trail once a month
and report to the Office of Physical Plant any maintenance issues
that need to be addressed.
Members of the project management team and guests walking
the trail after the ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 19, 2006
WHY THE TRAIL WILL BENEFIT SO MANY
Source: Suzy Lutz
As the shrubs were being
removed, the scenic corridor that is being preserved by
the rail trail, reappeared.
- Building this trail helps to meet several transportation
and conservation needs for "greenways" that have been
documented over the last decade by local, regional, and statewide
- As the Arboretum is developed over the next few years, hikers
and bicyclists will be able to visit outdoor exhibits within
walking distance of the trail, such as the Air
Quality Learning and Demonstration Center, a restored native
valley-floor woodland, a turf grass research facility and museum,
and an area where specially planned landscaping will reveal
the underlying geology of the region.
- Because it will be an integral part of the Arboretum's circulation
system, the rail-trail will also enable users to access the
landscape and botanic gardens.
- Constructing and maintaining the rail trail will help minimize
surface water runoff and possible contamination of the University's
well field in Big Hollow.