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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.
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.
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