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If you find yourself in Allegany or Olean, New York, with a half hour to spare, this loop trail makes for a very enjoyable bike ride. Better yet, strap on your inline skates and do a lap or two with the other skaters, bicyclists, walkers, baby-jogger parents and training-wheel children who flock to this pleasant trail.
Where a typical rail bed is stick straight, this circular route winds and dips along a river valley. Its rail-trail designation comes from the active railroad that runs adjacent to the corridor for a short distance on the north side.
The southern half of the trail is on the Allegheny River, and the rest of the loop has many access points in the small communities of Allegany and Olean. Starting near the tennis courts of St. Bonaventure University and heading west brings you to the river quickly. The trail circles the school, making it popular with students who use it for recreation. A leafy tree canopy cools off summer days and in winter lets in warming sunshine. At the first bend, the trail descends a little and the river comes into view. Oaks, maples, ash and cherry trees enclose the trail. In first 2 miles a few well-designed small bridges carry you over small tributaries to the river, and the trail becomes slightly wider. Another slight descent, followed by a curve at 1.5 miles, warrants the trail's 15 miles-per-hour speed limit. Watch for oncoming traffic.
At 2 miles, the river widens and you reach Gargoyle Park, with parking, swings and plenty of room for children to run around, especially if they've been in a buggy or bike seat. Large shagbark hickory trees—with distinctive gray shaggy bark—dominate the park grounds. Soon after the park, the trail crosses a small stream on another bridge.
When you reach the levee restraining the Allegheny River, you have gone 3 miles. Although it's unpaved, the levee is used as a bike and running path, adding more miles to the local trail system. Soon after the levee you enter a residential area and cross a few streets, including West State Street (Route 417). Use caution on this long, busy road crossing. The corridor soon widens and is shared with telephone lines and underground gas lines. After crossing Constitution Avenue, the trail passes several shops, including an ice cream stand popular with students.
The Olean rail yard, at 4 miles, marks where the trail parallels freight train tracks for 0.25 mile. The rail yard inspired Joe Higgins, a local resident credited with dreaming up the trail. As Higgins visited rail-trails in Rhode Island, Vermont and California, his idea for the circular rail-with-trail took shape. He helped negotiate a lease agreement among the communities, landowners and New York Department of Transportation, which provided funding for the trail.
In front of the university the trail crosses back over Route 417, turns right, continues for another 0.5 mile along the road or sidewalk and reaches the tennis court parking lot, where you can wind down your adventure. If you still have energy, take another lap on this excellent trail.
To reach St. Bonaventure University from Allegheny: From I-86 take Exit 24; turn south on Five Mile Road and then immediately left onto Route 417. Proceed a little more than 1 mile until you cross a railroad overpass and see St. Bonaventure University on your right. Make the first right into the campus and another immediate right. Before you cross the railroad tracks again, turn left on an unmarked uphill street. After 50 yards you will see the trailhead and parking lot on your right before the tennis courts.
Walked this trail last weekend and found it refreshing and relaxing. Lots of nice wide paths and well maintained.
Ran here in July on vacation.Started at St Bonaventure Tennis Courts.Cool summer morning.Just a very pleasant trail,scenic views of river,and friendly people.
myself and my partner just moved to Olean, Ny and were looking forward to biking local trails..we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the trail..
This is a beautiful, paved trail that winds through forested, shady area along the Allegheny River section, perfect for a warm summer day. It has never been too busy when I was on it, maybe I was just lucky. There are a few slightly hilly areas, and I love going over the wooden bridges that cross the small streams flowing in to the river. I have seen deer several times back in the woods, and there are several benches as well as a park where you can stop to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
I usually start my ride (or walk) from Bonnie and go to where it crosses W. State Street, then turn around and go back, as the other part of the trail is open and passes near homes and businesses. That's the reason why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars. This is good, though, if you want to grab a bite to eat or a coffee at Tim Hortons.
nice ,its almost downhill all the way around. has an ice cream stand near the end. my wife even liked it, n shes not an avid bike rider! I wanted to go around again!
We parked at St. Bonaventure University parking lot and headed on the trail on the East side of the University. It was a beautiful warm autumn day and what an awesome trail this is. It is flat, wide and paved the entire way. You have to cross a few streets but Olean is not a real busy place. It really was not a problem. If you don't want to cross any streets, you can just turn around and ride back since it is a loop. You pass by a park halfway around the trail so you could pack a lunch and bring it. There is a small playground in the park. You may be able to fish in the river that goes alongside the trail. This path is a just the right amount of bike riding for one day for a family. It would be great for rollarblading also. I recommend it for a nice fall day!
Although never far from the sound of traffic, we found this trail to be a gem. The section along the Allegheny River went by gorgeous big trees, mostly red and white oaks. There was a variety of birds singing, and plenty of squirrels and chipmunks gathering acorns. The part of the trail away from the river went by St. Bonaventure University, and, on the north side of Route 417, past businesses, including a railyard, and through neighborhoods. The trail itself was paved, with gentle changes in elevation and enough curves to make the ride a lot of fun. Our odometer measured the length as just over 6 miles, so we went around twice. We'll definitely make this a trail we ride a few times a year.
The trail along the river was beautiful. The trail is well maintained as well. I would like to see map on the TrailLink.com Web site so people can see where it goes before they set out on the trail.
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