Kevin and I set out to do the entire 20 mile Capital Area Greenbelt trail which creates a loop around the city of Harrisburg, PA. I was excited to check this trail out because I was considering doing this trail as the yearly group ride that I organize instead of the Lehigh Gorge Trail which is the one we have always done. I am really glad I checked this trail out prior to taking an entire group of people. There were some fairly steep hills and lots of road riding which some people who come are very uncomfortable with.
We parked at City Island and took the walker/biker bridge across to the start of the trail. The first few miles were completely flat and followed the Susquehanna River. There was a lot of artwork, painted dinosaurs and a cow – I HAD to stop and get a quick picture of the Triceratops that was across the street because they are my personal favorite dinosaur – FYI. 🙂
The trail followed a few roads that were not busy before heading into Wildwood Lake Sanctuary and back on a trail. We got a few lovely views before the dreaded hills started. I don’t know if it was the heat and humidity, but I ended up pushing my bike up some of the hills – they were actually quite steep.
Next the trail took us by Harrisburg Area Community College (aka HACC) and then onto the Farm Show Complex. We saw a bunch of people playing cricket in a field along this section of trail – I honestly didn’t even know people in the US PLAYED cricket! LOL – so we watched them for a bit before continuing. We arrived at a point where you could either turn left or right – after studying the map, the left trail just went to Veterans Park where we would have to turn around and come back so we decided to skip it. Unfortunately that meant we had to turn right and go up another quite steep hill. What goes up, must come down – only to go up again – the steepest road yet which takes you to Reservoir Park and the National Civil War Museum. Unfortunately we got a bit lost here. After the steep hill we paused to look at the awesome view you get of the Capital Building. It seemed like the trail went to the left, but the road was one way and marked DO NOT ENTER. We decided to stick to the road signs because according to the map it loops around – of course this then meant we had to keep going up the hill. Honestly if I would do this trail again I would go down the one way because it looked flat until it meets up with the road we took – there were no cars when we went anyway. This was the only part we got a little turned around at because other than that it was marked very well. The National Civil War Museum was the highest point on the trail and we were able to go downhill for a bit. We headed through the Five Senses Garden which I was most excited about and slightly disappointed – I think going to Longwood Gardens spoils me! There was a stream that passes through the garden and I stopped to splash water on my face to cool off. I believe the rest of the trail was fairly level – maybe only 1 more hill that wasn’t as bad as all the rest. We got to ride over the railroad tracks and then we were back – riding next to the river again.
I think if I would do this trail again I would definitely NOT go when it is 95* and crazy humid. Be prepared for hills, but also very pretty scenery. We did the trail clockwise and I don’t think if we went the other way it would have made a difference with the hills. Most of the roads had very little traffic and were well marked with trail signs.