John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail


57 Reviews

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John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Mercer
Length: 11.7 miles
Trail end points: Lake Wilhelm Marina at Lake Wilhelm Rd & Creek Rd and Lake Wilhelm Rd & Park Rd (Sandy Lake)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032686

John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail Description

The 11.7-mile John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail is a centerpiece of Maurice K. Goddard State Park, which spans 2,856 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania. The mostly shaded, paved, off-road trail traces the northern and southern shores of Lake Wilhelm, a popular spot for both anglers and boaters; on-road connections at either end complete a pleasant, largely wooded loop around the lake. In 2015 the trail was named in honor of the first secretary of the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Open every day of the year sunrise–sunset, trail users can engage in a variety of activities, including snowmobiling along the north shore and cross-country skiing along the south shore. The state park grounds are also open to hunters, and trail users are advised to wear orange during hunting season. Tree canopy over much of the route can result in moss and moist surfaces, so bicyclists should take caution and use safe speeds at all times.

Begin your journey at the Lake Wilhelm Marina. Here, you’ll find plenty of parking and restrooms, as well as opportunities to rent kayaks, boats, and paddleboats. Note that while there is a snack shop at the marina and restrooms at various points along the trail, there are no public water fountains, so plan accordingly.

Heading east on paved trail, you’ll wind through forest, with the lake on your left and Creek Road to your right. In about 1.7 miles, you’ll pass Boat Launch 2, which has restrooms, a picnic shelter, and beautiful views of the lake.

Heading a couple more miles down the trail takes you across Creek Road, after which you’ll approach the first of two very steep hills at Jordan Shelter. Upon your descent on the second hill—the steeper of the two—a sign warns of a sharp bend to the right. After the bend, you’ll see a sign that says to stop ahead.

Before approaching Boat Launch 1 at 4.1 miles, the trail becomes on road, sharing a pathway with Creek Road to Lake Wilhelm Dam, a stopping point for the southern segment. Here, you can take the path on top of the dam left toward the northern trail section or head down the hill to the dam parking lot.

As you head northwest along the lake now, the woods open up to lake views for a brief period, after which small rolling hills lead you back under tree canopy.

You’ll soon come to an opening where Dugan Run flows into the lake, and you’ll briefly travel right along the water over large rocks. Just ahead at about 6.9 miles along the trail, there is a fishing area. In the summertime, look for wild berries, which litter the side brush.

The trail switches back and forth between open fields and trees, approaching Boat Launch 4 at 10 miles. Picnic tables and plenty of green space make this an ideal spot for family gatherings.

Continuing west, the route takes a sharp curve left and then right before reaching a parking lot at Lake Wilhelm Road at 11.2 miles, near Park Road. A 2-mile detour off the trail on Park Road—which is accessible across Lake Wilhelm Road and to the left—leads to Boat Launch 3. To reach the marina and close the loop of the main trail, turn left onto Lake Wilhelm Road, go 0.5 mile, and turn left onto the access road for the marina, which is straight ahead in another 0.2 mile.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the trailhead at Lake Wilhelm Marina from I-79, take Exit 130 for SR 358 toward Greenville/Sandy Lake. Head northwest on SR 358 W, and go 0.5 mile. Take a slight right onto Sheakleyville Road, and go 1.1 miles. Then turn right onto Lake Wilhelm Road, and go 1.7 miles. Turn right into the access road for the marina, which is straight ahead in another 0.2 mile.

To reach the endpoint at Lake Wilhelm Dam from I-79, take Exit 121, and head east on US 62 N. Go 2.1 miles, and turn left onto US 62 N. Go 6.0 miles, and turn left to continue on US 62/Main St. Go about 0.4 mile, and continue onto Sandy Lake New Lebanon Road. Go 0.3 mile, and turn left onto Creek Road. Go 0.8 mile, and turn right into the parking lot.

John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail Reviews

Shade and more shade!

Great trail for a hot sunny summer day, most of this trail is very well shaded. 12 mile loop around Lake Wilhelm. Always a great ride. They now offer bike sharing with an app. Bikes are located at mile 0 in the parking lot next to the park office.

Fall 2022

Mid to end of October, leaves and foliage was at full peak providing plenty of yellows and golds. Some reds thrown in there as well. Always an enjoyable ride while encircling Lake Wilhelm within the park.

September Ride

End of summer means changing scenery along the trail. The corn is up, and goldenrod lines the trail. Trees still very green and the colors of fall are approaching.

One of August Rides

Can ride this trail multiple times per month and never get tired of it. Always an enjoyable ride. Stopped at Dugans Area near half marathon mile marker 8. They recently graded an area along the lake and put a picnic table there. A beautiful spot to enjoy a view of most of the lake from here.


Very nice trail

For a lake trail this one has a few good ups and downs.
Very lovely trail, many beautiful vistas along this route.

Up and down!

I’m from Buffalo and not used to hills, but once I got used to it, it was a fun trail. Very beautiful and peaceful. Sat by the lake at launch 3 for a while after my ride.

Nice trail

I live near here and walk this many times a week. It is one of my favorite places to walk.


Had a beautiful sunny day April 29, 2022 to ride the loop around the lake. Nicely maintained with various areas to stop for a rest or snacks! Rolling hills & curves so pay attention to negotiating biking ability! Lovely day for me!

Wonderful Bike Trail!

It was a beautiful sunny day for April 29, 2022 & the multi use trail is delightful. I really enjoyed biking around the edge of the water, seeing chipmunks, a woodchuck & a big bird way up in the tree. Some fishermen were enjoying the day too! Stopped & purchased a Passport book at the office to motivate me to get out to more PA State Parks! Go & enjoy this bike trail- take some snacks & rest along the way!

Winter Walk

February, 2022. Winter walk along the trail. Great trail for walking, cross country skiing or even fat bike tire riding.

Fall Rides

Biked this trail at least once a week in the Fall to experience the fall foliage. Always a great ride though a beautiful State Park.

Great for all ages and abilities!

Some minor ups and downs but overall a great loop around the lake.

Love this trail!

Lots of curves, small inclines and fun downhill riding. It reminds me of being on a rollercoaster! Need to pay attention while riding but lots of fun and very manageable for people out for leisurely ride.


My boyfriend and I LOVED this trail!!!! We saw a bald eagle in a tree above us. The scenery was beautiful and so peaceful. Well maintained trail. We live just miles from Presque Isle and agreed we would go back to this trail before choosing the one close to home.


We planned a visit to this region and rode three other rail trails before riding this one. I didn’t read any reviews before attempting this trail. We were pleasantly surprised with the terrain. The uphill-downhill trail was slightly challenging but a great workout. The views are beautiful as well.

Celebrate Trails Day 2021

There was a half-marathon on this trail organized by the local Trails Association in conjunction with Celebrate Trails Day 2021. Great turnout. In addition to the race, there were quite a few that came out to enjoy the trail for the day either walking, running or bike riding.

End of October ride

Got out there the end of October to enjoy what's left of the Fall foliage. This trail never disappoints.

Fall Foliage Ride

Thursday, October 15, 2020: Fall foliage is peak in Mercer County. It came early this year and is absolutely beautiful.
Enjoyable ride around the lake on the trail. Some areas were very coveredd with leaves other areas the wind had blown the leaves off into the woods.
Trail is mostly through wooded area.

Great trail

We have done this trail many times over the years. We love that it is a challenging loop trail. Many rolling hills and a few steep ones too. Shady for the most part depending on the time of the year. Trail well maintained.

Beautiful Trail!

The most fun I’ve had on a trail ride ever! This trail is nothing but up and down and twists and turns! Constant shifting, good speed, and honestly the most fun I’ve had on two wheels since my motorcycle days! Now, if you are wanting to come here with your Huffy single speed beach cruiser, this isn’t the trail for you. The route is anything but flat. There were two sections that brought you out onto the road and were not marked well (I had to ask someone where to go), but everything else was just so good that I can’t bring my rating lower than 5 stars. My biggest complaint: I just wish it was closer!

Early June ride

The park's open! Marina is open and they offer boat rentals and have a bait shop. The restrooms in the park are open along the trail. Great State Park to spend the day and and enjoy time on the bike trail.

Mid May Ride

Always and enjoyable and great workout of a ride. 12 mile asphalt paved trail provides a beautiful view of Lake Wilhelm as the trail encircles the lake. Gently rolling terrain offers the rider a great leg workout!
The Marina is open for bait and at least one restroom in the park is open, the one at the marina.
Beautiful State Park offers fishing, hiking, boating up to 9.9 hp and picnic areas.

Nice Fall Ride

End of October Fall ride. Nice sunny warm day and always a great ride on this trail. Pretty foliage.

September Group Ride

A group from the local trail association had a group ride. We enjoyed ourselves. Lot's of goldenrod fields along the trail and some leaves are beginning to change. Saw the osprey in their nest and one of the many Eagles that reside in the park. The new Children's Playground has been set up but is not open.

great ride

Did this ride June 2019. Mostly all shaded. Moderate difficulty with a couple of steep hills but most hills are gentle climbs. Restrooms and benches are conveniently placed along trail. Beautiful scenery. Takes roughly 2 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. I recommend highly

Lot's of Greenery-May, 2019.

Seems like overnight everything got green! Trail is well shaded and encircles Lake Wilhelm. All the restrooms are open. This state park also offers boat rentals. A great trail to enjoy time in the park.

March 2019 Ride

Celebrated the first weekend of Spring! After a mild and practically snow-less Winter, the trail is in good condition. Biked the entire loop scoping out for an upcoming half-marathon. Saw some beaver chewed trees and several Eagles in different locations along the trail. Some of the restrooms are still closed from the Winter.

December 2018 Ride

One of the nicest days weather wise we've had in about 6 weeks! Took advantage of the 60 degree temp and hit the trail. Always a great ride, the trail offers flat open areas and some hills.
Some restrooms are open along the trail.

Great in the Fall

It's been cold for quite a while now but one Sunday the temps got up into the 40's and a lot of people took advantage of the trail that day. Cyclists, walkers, and runners. It was good to see that many people out. Most of the restrooms are closed for the Winter but there are still a few open. The marina is empty as all the boats were removed. Saw 2 different bald eagles.

Hidden Gem

Excellent trail that winds up and down and through the woods, lakeside and open areas. Short steep climbs, a few sharp turns...lots of gear changes.

Fall Ride

Fall ride in November, the day before it snowed! Nice day out and there were others taking advantage of the great weather.
The marina is closed, all the watercraft has been removed.
Restrooms along the trail, some are closed, some remain open year around. They are noted at the restrooms. If one is closed, go to the next one.

Nice Trail

Very nice ride around lake.

Shaded Glory!

Beat the July heat on this trail! Mainly shaded throughout the wooded areas of the park.

The trail goes around the lake. Most of it is rolling wooded with some open areas. Not much of a lake breeze but even with temps in the upper 80's, the trail is enjoyable since it's so well shaded.

Bring water. If you do need more, they sell it at the Marina. They also sell ice cream, snacks and other cold beverages. Sometimes hot food is available, check with the first.

Very nice Summer Ride

The greenery is in full swing, so much of the trail is shaded. There are some open areas. Saw fisherman and picnic goers. Just a nice trail and the park is beautiful, and free.

Trail is paved. Flush toilets along the route.

We saw the Osprey in the nest. And one of the Eagles in a tree across the road. See photo's.

Newbies New Love

We are new to riding as we just bought bikes this year. I must say this is our second time here this year and we love it. Nice paved paths, a few challenging hills and beautiful sceneries. We saw 2 eagles and 2 osprey today. If you look straight across on the causeway you'll see an eagles nest too!

Trail open Year-Around

Had the opportunity to participate in a half marathon on this trail. Event held every April. Challenging trail for runners. It was a sunny but windy and cool day. A few cyclists out. Runners and walkers enjoying the park. Trout opens soon!

Winter Ride

We took advantage of the 55 degree temps and headed
to Goddard State Park for a ride on the John C. Oliver multi-purpose trail.
Also gave us the opportunity to scope out the trail for the Half-Marathon which will take place in April. Sponsored by Mercer County Trails Association.
The trail was mainly clear except for a few snowy-icy spots. There was a thin layer of ice on the Lake (Wilhelm). The Eagles were out and about. We saw one in flight and later 2 of them on the ice.
Most of the heated restrooms with flush toilets were open.

Beautiful fall ride

Nice fall ride in the park along the lake. Leaves
were very pretty. Always a nice ride on this trail.

Never a dull ride!

We frequent this trail because we enjoy it. It's never a boring ride. Yes it is hilly, but it's a challenge!

Nice loop around the lake. Picnic areas and restrooms (flush toilets) every few miles or so. You can ride your bikes across the dam.

We saw the Eagle in a tree near the park entrance. We've seen him before so we know where to look.

The marina offers boat rentals if you are up for that.

Just an all around nice trail, pretty lake and great park.

Recently name the John C. Oliver multi-purpose trail.

As always, here in Pennsylvania, our State Parks do not charge for admission or parking!

Roller Coaster

We found this trail on TrailLink while looking for a trail to ride on a return trip from Erie. We are typically rail trail riders in part because of the gentle slopes. At our age, mid 50's, we're not so much interested in ascending a steep path to the top of a hill as we are in having a nice ride along a scenic trail. Although other reviews have stated that this is not a rail trail, we decided to give it a try anyway. I have to say that we made the correct decision. We immensely enjoyed the trail and found it to be somewhat of a self propelled roller coaster ride around the lake. Very exhilarating! Yes, we had to drop down to the small ring a couple of times to get up some of the hills, but most of the time inertia and a little pedaling was sufficient. Effort well worth the return on the downhill sides. To sum it up, I would say that this trail is a lot like a small scale version of some of the back roads in north central Pennsylvania, winding and a little hilly. But not too hilly. Highly recommended!



Another nice ride

We rode in early July. The park ranger was out on the trail as well. We saw the Osprey in the nest. The trail goes all the way around the lake. Across from the causeway is a swamp and Eagles live in there. There were some birdwatchers and with their help, we were able to spot the Eagle. Nice State Park trail with boating, fishing and hiking as well as picnic shelters. The marina offers cold beverages and snacks for sale. Got a slushie!

As always, a great ride!

12 Mile trail loops around Lake Wilhelm in Goddard State Park. Trail is a variety of through the woods, out in the open, level and hilly.
Two parking areas. One at the marina and another near the park office. Since it's a loop, you can park at either end. Park has shelters and picnic areas. Great place to spend the day.
Every April there is a half-marathon and 5k on the trail for Mercer County Trails association.
Pizza places in nearby Sandy Lake. A winery near the park as well. Just an all around great park offering this awesome trail.
Park has fishing and boating. Also bird watching.
5 star trail every time!

Nice loop

The trail loops around Lake Wilhelm. It is far from flat! Rolling terrain, some level, some hilly. Nice variety. you can stop and look at the lake. There are rest rooms and picnic areas. Some areas of the trail are wooded, some out in the open. You can ride across the dam. We saw numerous birds. Nice trail for family. Pack a picnic lunch.

Our Favorite Trail

We tried this trail after a suggestion from a friend, what a great find. This has become our favorite loop. We started at the bike trail sign right past the marina. The trail is well shady with great views of the lake. The birds are beautiful will all kinds of blue birds and purple marten boxes along the trails. The hills are all like little roller coasters. If you get up enough speed going down you'll make it up the other side with no effort at all. A few of the hills have a bridge in the valley that's a little bumpy to go over at full speed. Once you cross over the dam you'll travel on park roads for a few miles but the traffic has never been bad. There are two really steep hills on the south side, I've made them up a few time, I've walked a few times. Once you come to the marina it's a little tricky as to where the trail goes, you'll have to travel on the park road to get back to the bike parking lot. Overall this trail is great and one we've recommended to everyone and have been back to do multiple times!

roller coaster trail

Love it! This is a smooth trail with lots of shade and a big loop. It's fairly well marked. It is NOT a rail trail. It has short steep hills and short steep drops and plenty of curves. Parts of it feel like a roller coaster ride. I rode it about a month ago and returned today (7.21.13) to go the opposite direction. Do be careful -- we saw one nasty crash due to sliding at high speed on moss at the edge of the trail. I'm not particularly good at hills so I have to push a bit (3 times today) but that's okay. Remember that you are circling a lake and bring bug spray.

Rolling Trail

This is a great trail though we have not done the whole trail, just a few miles here and there. Both on bicycle and running. There are several different places to access the trail. This trail provides a great workout whether it's running or biking. It's pretty to see in the Fall, nice in the Summer as well, sections are shaded, sections are in the sun. All around great trail if you are up for a non flat trail!

Route Alternatives

Here is more info on specific routes to add to yesterday's comments. If you are not concerned with two short stretches on the road you can do a 13 mile circle starting anywhere and going in either direction. Otherwise you can turn it into two separate circle trips; one on the north (east) side and one on the south (west) side, each about 6 miles one way or 12 miles return. Youker

Confusing mileage and description

I highly recommend this trail unless you are uncomfortable with short steep drops and uphills. My wife drove shuttle and I started at the start on the north east side just below the park office by the causeway and near launch site #3. The trail along the north shore of Lake Wilhelm is perfectly paved and does have some short pitches but I only had to walk a couple times. You can get going fast down and use your inertia to get up the rise. It was a lovely spring day and the Spring Beauty Flowers were in abundance. After the dam at the south east end there is about a mile of road with the trail starting again at launch #1. I missed the steep mile where the trail crosses the road when my wife gave me a short one mile shuttle and I finished the 12 miles by bike. The full circle is about a mile more than 12 if you bike the road on the causeway. I found the mileage markers confusing because I did not see where they started counting. Youker

Incredibly unique!!

We are very fortunate to have an incredible network of Rails-to-trails' bike trails within a 45 mile radius in N/W Pennsylvania. All are beautiful, but this trail is my favorite, by far. Where most of the trails are built on flat abandoned railroad beds and can be a little boring, this one follows the natural contours of the land providing a much more natural experience, and is a 12 mile loop, so you don't have to turn around at the end and ride back. It is more of a fitness trail with a number of small hills, some fairly steep, and other than the three mile stretch on the Marina side, is probably not suitable for small children or adults who don't want to sweat a little!

Lots of twist, turns short climbs and descents and bridges. Very quiet in the early am. Trail surface is very nice even the small stretch on the road. Loads of geese and geese leftovers. Saw 2 young bald eagles with a parent and actually got to watch them for aa bit roosting n a tree right off the trail.Very underused trail, but all in all i'll be back

A fantastic summer ride!

This 12 mile run takes riders along a largely wooded path around Lake Whilhelm at Goddard State Park. On a hot summer day it offers a cool ride in a lush and shade covered setting. The trail is a mix of mostly paved asphalt and a packed dirt roadway along a short stretch on the west side of the lake. It would likely rate a 2 on the 5 point trail scale for difficulty, hosting some short climbs and a few twists and turns. It is not unusual to see (or smell) the local wildlife along the ride, especially in the more heavily wooded areas (beware of geese at the dam).

Very nice, but not a Rail Trail

First I want to correct a statement in a previous review. There are public toilets, and probably water, though I didn't look for that, at the picnic / boat launch areas on the lake's southwest side. These are state maintained facilities, and may be closed in winter.

This trail, unlike typical rails to trails examples, has several short steep grades and some sharp bends, including some that have both bends and grades. You may well need to brake on the way down, and will probably need to shift down, or even get off and push on the way up. None of the grades is very long, so, even if you have to get off and push, it won't be a long push. On the north side of the lake, the trail is mostly asphalt paved and quite smooth. Several bridges cross little runs. On the south side, some sections share with park roads, and the paving isn't so pristine there, but not bad. On the very western end, you have to ride along a state highway to cross the lake and complete your loop. The highway shoulders are very wide, the pavement good, for adults or older children, it is no problem at all.

Scenery is very nice and varied. The trail runs both right through the grassy emergency spillway and across the crest of the dam. On top of the dam makes a nice place to stop and rest a few minutes.

It is just about 12 miles around the lake. If you want a longer ride, just do it twice, or three times. Reverse direction to add some variety. There is easy access trail parking at the west end on both north and south sides, where Lake Wilhelm Road, SR 1009, crosses the lake.

Up & Down

Lake Wilhelm bike trail is not a rail trail that is flat and straight. We rode recumbent trikes there and turned around after 3 miles and quit. It's alot of shifting up and down and pulling hills. Were used to a casual ride nothing quite so up and down. If your in to hills then this is your ride. If not, save your time and your bike for another trail.

Beautiful scenic bike trail!

My wife and I just got back from a weekend of camping near this trail.We have biked quite a few trails this summer and found this trail to be the best thus far.The scenery is spectacular and the trail is very fun to ride.The trail surface is very smooth and well taken care of.There are a few challenging hills on the trail with an abundance of turns which makes for a fun ride.
You will see an abundance of wild flowers birds and other wild life.You can take a picnic lunch as there are many picnic areas on the trail.
No water fountains or restrooms.
The best campground to stay at is camp wilhelm.You can ride your bike straight from the camp to the trail which will add an additional 2 miles to your trip.

X-Country Skiing

The trail offers a nice variety for cross country skiing. Gentle grades along with a few hills will keep your cardiovascular system working. There are many turns as the path follows the shore line. It's a great way to enjoy the quiet whiteness of a winter day.

For in-line skaters

"Nice bike trail, but would only suggest advanced in-line skaters tackle this trail. Some of the hills are steep and some of the bridges can be challenging."

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