CAPITOL AREA GREENBELT:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: April 16, 2008
Length: Capitol Area Greenbelt; 20 mile loop
Difficulty: South & East sections. Easy. Mostly paved pathways.
North & West sections. Moderate. More hilly, with some on-road sections. Not recommended for kids on bikes.
The Greenbelt has several parking spots at trail heads. There is a trail head at the Visiting Nurse Association of Central PA at 3315 Derry St in Harrisburg. There are also several spaces near the Five Senses Garden on Route 441 behind the Harrisburg East Mall. On Cameron St, there is a parking area across the street from Quigley's Hotel and Restaurant at 1517 S. Cameron St. In Penbrook, there are a couple of spaces at the end of the Paxtang Parkway, at the intersections of Market St, 25th St and Union Deposit Rd.
To start from the Five Senses Garden parking lot; From I-83 southbound take exit 45 to Paxton St. Head east on Paxton St past the Harrisburg Mall. Turn left on Mall Rd and then right onto Harrisburg St (Route 441). The parking lot is on your left, just after you cross over the trail.
To start from the Phoenix Park parking lot; From I-83 take exit 43 to Paxton St. Cross Paxton to 2nd St (one-way) and turn left down Washington St, then left onto Front St. Follow Front St along the river to the Park.
The Capitol Area Greenbelt is actually
a linear park connecting and passing through
Park, Cameron Parkway,
Park, Paxtang Parkway,
Park, the grounds of the
Starting from the Five
If you cross over Route 422 you will come
to the Five Senses Garden.
However, I headed west past the gate and the
signboard along an old paved road. The trail is marked by triangle shaped signs
to help you navigate some of the on-road sections. There are occasional
mile markers along the trail, the 0
mile originating from the Derry Street
parking lot. The trail follows Spring Creek through a wooded valley.
0.6 miles you’ll pass the Martin Luther
King Memorial and after traveling under a bridge you’ll come to another
parking lot. Use Caution crossing over S Cameron St
at 1.6 miles, where the trail turns to stone-dust. This could be part of the
old trolley line or rail line, as there are still some tracks as you cross over
a driveway and head back into the woods along the creek. You cross over an old
trestle bridge at 2.1 miles and then pass below a railroad bridge. This brings
you to another signboard, which also contains some interesting historical facts
about the area. At 2 ½ miles the trail crosses over an active rail line via a
bridge and you come to an intersection.
Right is a short cut to the
Head left down along the tracks where the
trail loops around an old concrete structure and brings you alongside the
Susquehanna River. A bench overlooks the river as the trail heads upstream towards
Harrisburg. The trail utilizes some sections of old road as you pass by a telescope overlooking the river
next to some benches. You then come to the
parking lot at about 3 miles.
Right loops you back to the bridge over the railroad tracks.
Continue straight through the lot and you’ll
pick up the stone-dust trail along the river. They named it “Ollie’s Way”
and there are many flowering trees planted here. When you reach
(I-83) at 3 ½ miles there is a parking area under the bridge.
A paved trail heads down along the waters edge, paralleling the river, but the
pavement is in very bad shape.
Instead, you should be able to reach the upper
paved trail that follows along Front St, by traveling through the parking lot. I realized this too late and took the
lower trail. The upper trail gives you great views of the river as well as views
of all the historic buildings along Front St. There are many interpretive signs located along the trail as well. Two
railroad bridges cross the river, followed by the Market
and then at 4 ¼ miles, the Walnut
Note; Built in 1890, the Walnut Street Bridge is now a pedestrian bridge over to City Island Park . I would suggest a detour over this bridge to check out the island. Lots to do.
Continuing along the trail, you’ll come to State
at 5 miles and a large promenade overlooking the river.
Another detour worth taking is to head up State St
along its wide, brick lined boulevard to check out the State Capitol.
You’ll also pass by the green domed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
and many old historic buildings. It’s only 0.3 miles to the Capitol. Other
areas of interest close by are the STATE
MUSEUM OF PA and the WHITAKER
along the trail, you’ll pass by the Peace Garden and Holocaust
Monument and eventually come to Maclay St at 5 ¾ miles. The lower trail
ends here, across from the
The trail continues along the river and then over to Wildwood Lake where
it loops back, passing through Harrisburg Community College and the
We decided to shorten the trip and take a 1
mile on-road detour up Maclay St
(partly uphill). Note; This detour not recommended for kids on bikes
because of the many on-road sections and hills. After crossing over the
tracks you’ll come to N Cameron St. Turn left in front of the State Farm Show Arena and you’ll come to a
pedestrian tunnel that will take you safely underneath N Cameron St. This brings you onto the grounds of the Harrisburg State Hospital. A
paved trail heads right through the grounds and takes you alongside a small
creek. At 7 ½ miles you come to an intersection.
Left is a spur trail up to
Turn right and head up the hill alongside Pine Drive. A short on-road section along
brings you back to the paved trail as it takes you up to East Harrisburg
Cemetery. Turn right in the cemetery and follow the road out to
Edgemont Rd, where you head right at 8 ½ miles. Cross over
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT