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New Trail System Opens at Harvest Fields

by and on October 09, 2020 6:00 AM

BOALSBURG — On the beautiful fall morning of Oct. 3, the ribbon was cut and Harvest Fields Community Trails were officially opened to the public, as project coordinator Josh Stapleton led a group of mountain bikers on a tour of the new multi-use trails.

It wasn’t long before a chorus of excited voices from riders both young and old could be heard coming from the trails behind Calvary Church, exclaiming how “awesome” the trails are.

During that initial ride, a man who just bought a mountain bike that day ended up joining in and was “blown away” by how much fun the trails are, Stapleton said.

That, according to Stapleton, is what the new trail system is all about — offering a chance for beginner riders to learn a lifelong sport. The trail system also provides new experiences for seasoned riders, facilitating skills development while complementing existing trail offerings in Happy Valley and growing the local cycling community.

“What is this place? It was really envisioned to be multi-use trails to provide a really unique mountain bike experience for families and beginners in our region.” said Stapleton, moments before the ribbon was cut.

He said the project was an “investment in community” made by Calvary Church, the Nittany Mountain Biking Association and a slew of sponsors.

The project helps provide “a unique outdoor space that allows us to connect with each other, connect with the simple beauty of the area, get in shape, improve mental well-being, all these sorts of interesting taglines that we didn’t realize how critical they would be when we opened this in the middle of a pandemic.

"What we created in a unique mountain biking, outdoor recreation venue in our area is something that we hope is a blessing and asset to the community for many, many years to come.”

The trails, designed by Applied Trail Research, rise up and wind down the mountainside in the woods behind Calvary Church on the Harvest Fields land. As bikers or hikers make their way across the trails, sweeping views of Happy Valley and Mount Nittany can be seen in the distance.

There are rocks to ride over and around and jumps to fly off of, if riders are so inclined.

But the trail also offers a chance for “newbies” to learn the sport before they step up to the less forgiving trails in neighboring Rothrock State Forest, a place that has become of hub for mountain bikers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo courtesy of John Balogh

“We’re fortunate here in Happy Valley to have a great variety of opportunities for visitors and families to have an exciting outdoor experience — from paddling, hiking and mountain biking, to hunting and fishing, to bouldering. From many of our communities with places to stay in Happy Valley, you can be on a trail in minutes,” said Fritz Smith, president and CEO of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.

The Harvest Fields Community Trails can be accessed from the Calvary Church parking lot at 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg. Calvary Church lead pastor Dan Nold said having the trails on the property helps further the mission of the church as an asset to the community.

“Our vision as a church is to build a church without walls, so in some respects that involves having no wall between the church and the community. And so immediately, when we came out here, we said part of what we have to offer the community is the property,” said Nold.

With a Frisbee golf course and fishing pond already in place and a park in the works, the trails were the logical next step.

“It really has been a little bit of a dream come true to see these types of things happen and to provide the space for that. We love having the community out on this property. We think it is a little taste of heaven. The views are amazing. I don’t think there is anything quite like this. We are glad in partnering with all of you and offering this to the community,” Nold said.

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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