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Church Aims for Beginner Mountain-Bike Trails at Harvest Fields

by and on February 25, 2019 5:00 AM

As president of the Nittany Mountain Biking Association, Scott Sheeder knows what a great sport mountain biking can be, but he also understands that it can be a little intimidating. 

While the trails in nearby Rothrock State Forest are great for experienced riders, the rocks and steep grades make it difficult for people who are new to the sport. So, he said he was ecstatic when Josh Stapleton, a member of Calvary Church and a PA Interscholastic Cycling League team coach, brought an idea for a trail system at the church’s Harvest Fields location.

The project will involve construction of a trail from Torrey Lane in Boalsburg to the Harvest Fields property, and construction of 4 to 6 miles of mountain-biking trails on approximately 100 acres. NMBA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Calvary Church, agreeing to work to bring this trail system to fruition in the next year or two.

In January, NMBA, the Harris Township Lions Club and a handful of local advocates raised the $16,000 to hire Applied Trails Research to design the trail system. NMBA hopes to receive a plan from ATR in April. In the spring, the group will embark on a fundraising campaign to raise the money required for the first phase of construction, and hope to be building trails by summer.

“There are very few places in Centre County where people can learn to ride a mountain bike without the bumps and bruises that Rothrock dishes out. The Harvest Fields trail system will be designed as a progressive trail system, meaning that there will be miles of smooth, low gradient trails for beginners to learn on, and alternate routes that are more challenging, that can be explored as riders gain ability and confidence,” said Sheeder.

The trails at Harvest Fields will also be made for the purpose of “mountain biking only,” which will provide some nice aspects for riders of all ages.

“While we are extremely fortunate to have Rothrock State Forest in our back yards, the forest policy is that all trails must be constructed for multipurpose use. Mountain bike trail construction has evolved over the last several decades to include special features, such as banked corners, which allows cyclists to navigate sharp turns more safely,” said Sheeder. “These and other features are not permitted on Rothrock property, but will be a part of the Harvest Fields trail system.”

Sheeder said he hopes the trails will encourage more kids to start mountain biking and that the local Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling Team is very excited about the opportunity these trails will provide and potential new membership with the organization.

“It will give them a facility that meets the league's trail system requirements, where they can practice and compete,” said Sheeder.

NMBA has agreed to act as the fiscal agent for the project and will accept all donations related to the project, pay all the bills associated with construction and acquire and maintain all of the tools required for maintenance of the system following construction. NMBA is a 501(c)(3) organization, so any donations are tax deductible. More information about the project and how to donate can be found at


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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