CAPITOL AREA GREENBELT:

HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:      March 04, 2024

Length:                Capitol Area Greenbelt; 21.7 mile Loop

                               Wildwood Park Loop; 3.5 miles

Difficulty:            Southern Section; Easy. Mostly flat, paved trail.

                              Western Section; Easy. Mostly flat, paved & stone-dust trails.

                              Northern Section; Moderate. Consists of an on-road (Not recommended for kids on bikes) section and Easy, SEPARATED 2-WAY BIKE LANE section.

                              Eastern Section; Easy. Northern & Southern Ends mostly flat, paved & stone-dust trails. Moderate. Central Section is hilly w/on-road sections.

                              Towpath Trail; Easy. Flat, hard packed dirt trail.

Directions:

The Greenbelt has several parking spots at trail heads. .

To start from the Five Senses Garden parking lot[ Southeastern End]; 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.

The Capitol Area Greenbelt is actually a linear park Loop connecting and passing through Riverfront Park, Cameron Parkway, Paxtang Park, Paxtang Parkway, Reservoir Park, the grounds of the State Hospital, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Wildwood Lake. From this trail you can easily access major attractions in Harrisburg such as City Island, the State Capitol, the State Museum of PA, the Civil War Museum, the Whitaker Science Center and much more. The trail varies from on-road to stone-dust to paved and from flat easy riding to hills and valleys. The Southern Section is all off-road and follows a wooded route along Spring Brook. The Western Section follows the Susquehanna River and allows access to downtown Harrisburg, as well, as City Island. The Northern Section consists of a long on-road section and a SEPARATED 2-WAY BIKE LANE section that ends at Fort Hunter Mansion & Park. The Eastern Section varies a lot. At its Northern End you have Wildwood Lake Park, which includes a Loop around the Lake. It's Central Section consists of trails alongside roads and on-road sections with only a few wooded sections. The Southern End is hilly, but more wooded and scenic. For more information visit; CAPITOL AREA GREENBELT .

Southern Section:

Starting from the Five Senses Garden parking lot [Southeastern End]; Map Board located here, as well as, at other parking lots. Informational signs along the trail. Green signs mark the route.

Note; The Five Senses Garden is located East, just across Route 441.

Heading West; The Capitol Area Greenbelt; Southern Section follows an old paved road past a gate. The trail follows Spring Creek through a wooded valley. After 0.6 miles you値l pass the Martin Luther King Memorial as the trail turns Southwest. After traveling underneath the S 19th Street Bridge you値l come to another parking lot. Cross over S Cameron St at 1.6 miles, where the paved trail turns Northwest. 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 travel underneath a railroad bridge. The trail Loops Southeast, before it crosses over an active rail line via a bridge bringing you to an intersection at 2.5 miles.

Note; Straight is a short cut to trail alongside the Susquehanna River.

Head left, Southeast, down along the tracks where the trail Loops around an old concrete structure and brings you alongside the Susquehanna River

Western Section:

A bench overlooks the river as the Capitol Area Greenbelt; Western Section heads upstream, Northwest , 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 a gate at 2.9 miles. Picnic tables.

Note; Right, East, Loops you back to the bridge over the railroad tracks.

Continue along the stone-dust trail as it follows the river. The trail briefly follows a road alongside Penn Dot, before continuing briefly, as paved along the river. Returns to stone-dust. Pass a Map Board and travel underneath South Bridge (I-83) where the trail is concrete. 

Note; A separate, paved Upper Trail, follows along your right. 

The concrete Lower Trail follows along the rivers edge, below the Upper Trail, which becomes more separated by a high bank. Come to an impressive RR Bridge, with multiple arches, at 3.8 miles. A Spur Trail is on your right, that leads up to the Upper Trail.

Note; You can follow either trail as they both merge when you reach the Walnut Street Bridge further Northwest. The Upper Trail gives you more expansive views, as it is high above the river, as well as views of all the historic buildings along Front St. It's also a bit wider.

Continuing along the paved Capitol Area Greenbelt; Upper Trail, which follows along Front St. There are many interpretive signs located along this section. Travel through an arch underneath the RR Bridge, keeping straight when the trail splits. 

Note; Heading right at the split takes you out to Front St, where you can check out the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, which now houses the HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF DAUPHIN COUNTY .

Pass by the Harris Burial Ground and travel underneath another impressive RR Bridge, with multiple arches, where the trail travels closer to Front St. Cross Market St. Nice overlooks from the Market Street Bridge on your left. Come to the Walnut Street Bridge at 4.2 miles. Spur Trail down to the Lower Trail here. 

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. First National Bank Stadium, Skyline Sports Complex, City Island Beach, playground, miniature golf...

Continuing along the trail, you値l come to Kunkel Plaza, with a large promenade overlooking the river, at 4.6 miles. 

Note; You can take a short detour here. Head East, on-road (low traffic/brick sidewalk available) up State St along its wide, brick lined boulevard to check out the State Capitol. You値l also pass by the green domed Saint Patrick痴 Cathedral and many old historic buildings. It痴 only 0.3 miles to the Capitol. Other areas of interest close by are the STATE MUSEUM OF PA and the WHITAKER SCIENCE CENTER .

Continuing along the trail, you値l cross Forster St (Harvey Taylor Bridge left) and pass by the Harrisburg Sunken Garden. Pass by the Governors Mansion and come to Maclay St at 5.8 miles. The Lower Trail ends here. I haven't checked out this next section. The trail continues North, between the river and N Front St along a narrow strip of land. Lots of sculptures. After 7.5 miles the trail ends at Vaughn St. 

Northern Section:

I haven't checked out this next section. This next 3.8 mile section is all on-road along residential streets. Green signs mark this route. Travel East along Vaughn St, then left, North, along Green St. The trail briefly turns East out to N 6th St at 10.2 miles. Continue left, North, traveling underneath I-81. This road is busier, with some industrial buildings. Come to *Route 39 after 11.3 miles.

Note; The Capitol Area Greenbelt; Northern Section continues left, West, utilizing a double-wide sidewalk, located across Route 39. A cross-walk is on your left. You return to N Front St at 11.5 miles, where a SEPARATED 2-WAY BIKE LANE travels North along the river (mostly obscured by trees). Travel through a tunnel underneath a RR Line at 12.3 miles. Pass by a Map Board and an old red Caboose before the BIKE LANE ends at 12.6 miles at the entrance to FORT HUNTER MANSION & PARK

Eastern Section:

Continuing from *Route 39 [Continuing Mileage from 11.3 miles]; I haven't checked out this next section. Travel right, East, along a paved SEPARATED BIKE LANE which quickly brings you to a paved trail.

Note; This trail simply takes you underneath Route 39 to the Northern Side, then West back to N 6th St where the Capitol Area Greenbelt; Northern Section continues.

The SEPARATED 2-WAY BIKE LANE Capitol Area Greenbelt; Eastern Section continues straight, East, crossing a bridge over the RR tracks to Industrial Rd where it turns East. You then cross the road, passing the Wildwood Park North parking lot (picnic pavilion and restrooms) and coming to an intersection at 11.7 miles in Wildwood Park.

Note; The hard packed dirt, Towpath Trail, travels right, South, through the woods and along the Western Side of Wildwood Lake & Paxton Creek to the Wildwood Way parking lot, just below I-81, where it rejoins the Capitol Area Greenbelt; Eastern Section after 1.2 miles. Map Board and restrooms.

Continuing straight, North, the paved Capitol Area Greenbelt; Eastern Section travels around the Northern Tip of Wildwood Lake. Here the trail travels South along the Eastern Side of the lake. Come to an intersection at 13.3 miles. 

Note; A paved trail travels straight, East, underneath Route 22, then North through Olympic Heights Park and out to Apollo Ave after 0.3 miles.

Continuing right, South, you'll cross a bridge over Paxton Creek before quickly coming to the Benjamin Olewine Nature Center parking lot at 13.4 miles. Picnic pavilion, restrooms, water fountain and boardwalk trails into Wildwood Lake Marsh. Here you'll follow the park road West, along the Western Tip of Wildwood Lake. This brings you to the Wildwood Way parking lot, just below I-81 and the intersection with the Towpath Trail at 14 miles. Map Board and restrooms.

Note; The hard packed dirt, Towpath Trail, travels right, North, through the woods and along the Western Side of Wildwood Lake & Paxton Creek back to the Wildwood Park North parking lot and the Capitol Area Greenbelt; Eastern for a 3.5 mile Loop.

Continue, left, South, underneath I-81 (sidewalk) and you'll pick up the paved Capitol Area Greenbelt; Eastern Section, where it parallels Industrial Rd. Open, industrial corridor. Soon, the trail leaves the road behind as it travels up a slight hill. Come to an intersection and keep right out to and around a parking lot for Harrisburg Area Community College. You pass by a Map Board and BIKE STATION before turning left and crossing a bridge over Paxton Creek to a traffic circle. Travel right, on-road, South through campus to Alumni Dr. Head left, then right, South, along HACC Dr (wide shoulder/sidewalk available). Cross Wildwood park Dr and you'll pick up the paved trail on your left at 15.8 miles. Here the trail travels South alongside Route 22. I've checked out this next section. You'll come to a tunnel that will take you safely underneath N Cameron St. This quickly brings you onto the grounds of the Harrisburg State Hospital at 16.3 miles. The paved trail winds Southeast through the grounds and soon takes you alongside Asylum Creek. Cross a bridge over the creek, before crossing Pine Dr at 17 miles. Map Board.

Note; Left, Northeast, a Spur Trail leads through the woods, along Asylum Creek and coming to an intersection at 1.3 miles. The trail continues Northeast, to another intersection. Left, West, leads to Travis Way and straight continues to Andrea Ave after 1.8 miles.

Left, North, from the intersection, a short paved trail leads up to Veterans Park.

Turn right, East and head up a long hill alongside Pine Dr & Stanley Rd. The trail then passes by the PA DOT, before traveling around East Harrisburg Cemetery out to Edgemont Rd. Here, the paved trail turns South, alongside the road, bringing you to Herr St at 18.1 miles. Cross over to Parkway Drive and continue on-road (residential, sidewalk available). Cross State St and enter Reservoir Park. Parking lot. Follow National Civil War Museum Dr East up hill through the park. Pass by the amphitheater and the NATIONAL CIVIL WAR MUSEUM along your right. Continue straight past the "Do Not Enter" sign (one-way road) and you'll come to a Y in the road. Map Board. Bear left and pass through the orange gate. This will bring you to Parkway Blvd. Travel downhill on-road along Parkway Blvd until you come to a stop sign. Use Caution crossing over 28th St and Market St where you値l pass by another orange gate at 19.3 miles. Here the trail follows old Cameron Parkway, which is not open to traffic. Map Board. This is a peaceful section that follows a small brook down hill through the woods, as the old road veers South. You'll come to the Parkway Blvd parking lot at 20.5 miles. Map Board, picnic table and BIKE STATION. Follow a paved trail out to Derry St and head left, East, on-road to S. Paxtang Ave and continue right, South on-road (Caution; This section is narrow w/no shoulder and a narrow sidewalk) Travel under the railroad tracks where you値l pick up a paved/boardwalk trail that brings you under I-83 and up to the Rutherford Farm Spring House. Follow the driveway out to Parkview Lane and turn right, West, on-road. Just before Paxton St, you'll pick up a paved trail on your left, which will take you across Paxton St. Here the paved trail travels Southwest, through the woods, passing by the Five Senses Garden, before crossing Route 441 and returning back to the Five Senses Garden parking lot after a 21.7 mile Loop.

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