Additional Images

Rail Trail

Residents speak in support of rail-trail idea.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony:
PennState LIVE story
PennState LIVE photos


Sharing the History of the Railroad


Funding the Bellefonte
Rail Trail

Rail Trail Checklist (Form used by Centre Region Bicycle Coalition)


Eastern Inner Loop



Centre Regional Planning Agency
Click on the image above to open a new window with a larger image of the map of rail trail in the local area.



Source: Julie Brink
The Bellefonte Central Rail Trail connects with the McKee Street/Clinton Avenue Bike Path (shown above), and provides access to the trailhead, Sunset Park.




This project will provide another regional "spoke" connecting outlying communities to the hub formed by State College and the University.







Source: Centre Regional Planning Agency
Many natural obstructions such as this tree had to be removed to survey and clear the railroad bed.

















Source: Greg Grieco
The plank in the above picture used to be the only means of crossing the gap in the railroad bed where a section had been cut away to drain storm water from an adjacent pasture.

A box culvert was installed to provide safe crossing and to control water runoff from storm events.

The culvert is shown below.





Bellefonte Central Rail Trail

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)
Source: 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.



View of Big Hollow in autumn along the rail trail.

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 Top Lane.


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 the project.

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



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 studies.
  • 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.


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