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The towns of Allegany and Olean (OH-lee-an) sat at the hub of river, railroad, wagon road, and canal traffic during New York’s early history. It’s no wonder that today the area is home to a popular trail that connects the two towns.
The Allegheny River Valley Trail comprises a 5-mile main loop and a 1-mile cutoff around St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, and a 2-mile connector on paths and sidewalks into Olean. The entire 8 miles is paved, traveling along the wooded Allegheny River shoreline for about 3 miles, encircling the college campus, and passing through the industrial and retail center of Olean to a trailhead brewery.
The main loop trail dates back to the 1990s, when local businessman Joseph Higgins conceived a loop trail using the southern edge of a sprawling rail yard. He helped negotiate an agreement among the Town of Allegany, the City of Olean, and St. Bonaventure University. The extension through Olean was added later.
Starting at the trailhead near the tennis courts at St. Bonaventure University, take the trail to the left to reach the Allegheny River in about 0.25 mile. The river carried early settlers west and brought commerce to the region.
Oak, maple, ash, and cherry trees provide welcome shade in the summertime. At 1.2 miles, you’ll pass a mile-long trail on your left that offers a loop around the university and can serve as a shortcut back to the trailhead. On the main loop, you’ll cross a few bridges over small tributaries and experience short dips and climbs.
At 2 miles, you arrive at Gargoyle Park, which has parking, athletic fields, and restrooms. East and west of the park you’ll see earthen berms—all that’s left of a 368-acre oil tank facility that held some 300 tanks until the early 1940s. The 4.5-foot embankments surrounded each tank in case of fire or a rupture. Company owners created the park for tank farm workers and their families.
The trail turns away from the river at 3 miles and heads north along an unshaded utility right-of-way for about a mile to a trail fork. A right turn goes 2 miles through residential and retail areas of Olean on paths and sidewalks along Constitution Avenue, Wayne Street, and an active railroad line to the local campus of Jamestown Community College, where you’ll see a 1940s vintage Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station. The trail continues south along Olean Creek to a sidewalk on Adams Street that ends at Edwards Court.
A left turn at the previously mentioned fork follows the main loop. After crossing Constitution Avenue, you’ll pass a popular ice cream shop and travel within sight of the rail yard. You’ll return to the St. Bonaventure campus about a mile after the fork and arrive at your starting spot in about another 0.5 mile.
To reach the trailhead at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany from I-86/Southern Tier Expy., take Exit 24, and head south on W. 5 Mile Road. Go 0.4 mile, and turn left onto NY 417/W. State Road. Go 0.8 mile, and stay straight as the road becomes NY 417/Main St. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right onto S. Seventh St. Then go 0.1 mile, and turn left onto E. Union St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Bonaventure Road; look for parking on the right. The trail is adjacent to the parking lot.
To reach the trailhead in Olean from I-86/Southern Tier Expy., take Exit 26 and turn right onto NY 16/N. Union St. Ext. Go 0.6 mile, turn left onto Front St., and then go 1.2 miles. Turn right onto E. State St. Go 0.3 mile, turn left onto Fulton St., and then go 0.2 mile. Bear right onto Adams St. Go 0.1 mile to E. Greene St., and look for parking at Four Mile Brewing, which allows trail parking.
We usually ride on limestone so we really enjoyed the paved trail. Very well maintained and great views. We were disappointed at the lack of trail signs. The leg from the main loop to Edward Ct. basically had none. Once we got to Route 16 we gave up and went back to the main loop to ride.
This is 100% asphalt. Very pleasant bike ride. There are very few highways to cross. I love the part next to the river. There are many places to stop, sit, and watch the river. The loop alone is about 6 miles.
2nd time been here did the small loop. But was a great time.
This trail is great shape & well taken care of.
I just found out about Wheelchair Accessible Trails. Thanx TrailLink! First I'd been hiking in years only went in 1 mile. But it was very nice! Thanx, again I'll be back!
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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