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Every year, tens of thousands of people take to the Capital Area Greenbelt looping around Harrisburg to play, exercise, and commute. The greenway completely encircles Pennsylvania’s capital city as it connects parks, museums, and a stretch of gardens and woods along the Susquehanna River.
Originally conceived by landscape architect Warren Manning in the early 1900s to improve livability in what was a gritty steel town, the greenbelt project was forgotten as more pressing matters arose and many residents migrated to the suburbs. Then in 1991, volunteers with the Capital Area Greenbelt Association (CAGA) resurrected the spirit of those plans and began building trails using wood chips and gravel. Today, private foundations and local and state agencies have adopted the greenbelt, which benefits from state grants totaling millions of dollars.
A central place to start is City Island in the Susquehanna River. You’ll find parking here, as well as recreational activities. The eastern half of the circa 1890 Walnut Street Bridge carries pedestrians to the greenbelt’s Riverfront Park; ice floes washed away the western span in 1996.
Heading south underneath I-81, you’ll enter the Harrisburg Area Community College campus at about 8 miles, and then the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center grounds at 9.5 miles. The left fork at 10.5 miles takes you on a side trail for nearly 2 miles up Asylum Run, a tributary of Paxton Creek, with a section that breaks off and heads north to Veterans Memorial Park just after you pass the Susquehanna Soccer Club complex. The right fork continues alongside and on Pine, Stanley, and North Parkway Drives to the grounds of the National Civil War Museum.
To reach parking on City Island from I-83 S, take Exit 43 onto Second St. Go 0.8 mile, and turn left onto Market St., crossing the bridge. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right to exit the bridge at the City Island sign. Follow the ramp to parking. Facing Harrisburg, the Walnut Street Bridge is to the left. Cross the Walnut Street Bridge to access the Capital Area Greenbelt.
To reach parking on City Island from I-83 N, take Exit 41B for Lemoyne. Turn left onto Lowther St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn left onto S. Third St, and go 0.5 mile, and then turn right onto Market St., and go 0.6 mile. Continue onto the bridge, go 0.1 mile, and turn left to exit the bridge at the City Island sign. Facing Harrisburg, the Walnut Street Bridge is to the left. Cross the Walnut Street Bridge to access the Capital Area Greenbelt.
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