Hiking and biking

Bald Eagle Valley Trail ‘Phase Two’ opens Wednesday

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — As the last remnants of snow melt away and spring approaches, local residents are in for a new experience this year.

Just in time for warmer weather, the “Phase two” section of the new Bald Eagle Valley Trail will open to the public on Wednesday, which is the first official day of spring.

The Bald Eagle Valley Trail, when completed, will span 11.5-miles, ultimately connecting Lock Haven, Castanea, McElhattan, Avis and points in-between to the Lycoming County border and the Jersey Shore trailhead of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

Phase One of the project, a 2.2 mile link in Wayne Township, was completed last year. That section, which will serve as the middle of the trail, is a former farm road closed to traffic and runs along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

The Phase Two section opening Wednesday will unveil a 3.4 mile link along the railroad bed from Castanea and leading to Wayne Township, running along Bald Eagle Creek.

A celebration and ribbon cutting event will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Castanea Train Station, which will serve as the trailhead of the section.

“It has been a long time coming but we are ready to open phase two of the trail,” said county planning director Katherine de Silva. “We are grateful for everyone’s partnership and assistance in this project, and we would love to see everyone come out and help us celebrate. The Clinton County Historical Society has graciously offered to open their caboose display and provide refreshments for the event, and the Clinton Central Model Railroad Club will open their renowned train station displays to attendees.”

According to recreation planner Greg Smith, the trail will be open all year round, will be closed at dusk, and will have no winter maintenance.

“No motor vehicles will be allowed on the trail, including ATVs and motorcycles. Littering is prohibited, and all pets must be leashed and must be properly cleaned up after. Trail users are to always travel in the right lane and to remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way,” Smith said.

“We have consulted with DCNR and this set of rules is similar to Pine Creek and other trails in our area,” said county commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz.

According to de Silva, Phase Three will run through Wayne Township Community Park onto low-volume McKinney Road. McKinney Road will be widened five feet to accommodate bike/pedestrian traffic, de Silva said. Phase Four will include the conversion of a rail bridge crossing the Susquehanna River, with a targetted completion by August 2021. Phase Five will bridge into Lycoming County while phase six will connect the trail to the Chestnut Grove Sports Complex in Castanea.

When completed, the county planning office expects the trail to provide “key features and highlights” for walkers, hikers, bicyclists and more.

r Chestnut Grove Sports Complex (Castanea Township) with athletic fields, pavilions, nature trails.

r Castanea Train Station Historic Site at Western trail head where the caboose is a bed and breakfast. Also, a restored roundhouse and station full of model train displays are located there.

r Wayne Township Community Park features athletic fields, pavilions, community center.

r Susquehanna bridge crossing with an 860-foot river bridge will be the highlight of the trail. Trail name will be painted on its side and be visible from Route 220.

r Spectacular views of Bald Eagle Creek, Susquehanna West Branch, and pristine farmland.

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