The Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail: Biking the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail

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Are you looking for a scenic bike ride in western Pennsylvania? The Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail is the perfect option for your next adventure!

This trail, also known as the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail, is a 12-mile loop that takes you through beautiful forests, past peaceful streams, and around the picturesque Lake Wilhelm in Maurice K Goddard State Park near Sandy Lake, PA.

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or just looking for a leisurely ride, the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail is quite scenic. With its well-maintained surface and mostly flat terrain, it’s an easy ride that’s perfect for families, beginners, or anyone who just wants to enjoy a couple of hours on their bicycle.

Look for this sign. It’s where you’ll begin your ride!

Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail Details

Located in the heart of Maurice K. Goddard State Park, the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail is a leisurely cycling paradise amidst the picturesque surroundings of Mercer County. This 12-mile paved trail offers a mix of flat sections and rolling hills that cater to both novice and experienced riders.

The Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail takes you along the stunning shores of Lake Wilhelm and the scenic state park roads, offering lake views peaking through as you ride along. It is ideal for leisurely rides.

It is a bi-directional trail that allows cyclists to explore the park at their own speed.

With safe speeds marked on sharp bends and popular spots, the trail ensures a comfortable and enjoyable cycling experience for all visitors.

The trail is open for cycling from dawn to dusk, and trail parking is available at various points along the route.

Length and Difficulty Level

The Lake Wilhelm bike trail is a delightful 12-mile loop trail that encircles the lake. The trail is divided into two sections: the north shore and the south shore. This scenic paved trail route takes you across wooded paths, past picnic areas, and offers lake views.

The difficulty level of the trail is classified as easy to moderate.

This means that most people can tackle the trail, without too much exertion.

The recommended trail activities include biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing.

If you’re looking for a fun, easygoing outdoor activity that is suitable for the entire family, the Lake Wilhelm bike trail is an excellent option. Take your time enjoying both the wooded stretches and panoramic views of the lake.

A picnic table sits on the edge of Lake Wilhelm in green grass.
Find views like these along the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail.

Safe Speeds and Rules to Follow

Biking along the Lake Wilhelm trail is an enjoyable experience, but it’s essential to follow the rules and regulations to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the trail.

Safe speeds are essential on the Lake Wilhelm trail, and riders should comply with recommended and/or posted speed limits at all times. All e-bike guidelines must also be followed if using an electric bicycle.

Pennsylvania state law requires all bicyclists under the age of 12 to wear an approved helmet. It’s a good practice to wear a helmet even if you’re over the age of 12 to protect yourself from any potential injury.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to remain alert and aware of your surroundings and the trail’s conditions at all times.

While biking on the Lake Wilhelm trail, it’s essential to obey all posted signage, including directions and warnings about sharp bends, steep hills, and other potential hazards. There are a few fairly steep hills, and although they are short, you can increase your speeds very easily on these sections!

Definitely pay attention to the signage!

Access Points and Trail Parking

The Lake Wilhelm bike trail offers multiple access points and trail parking options for the convenience of visitors. The access points to the trail are located along both the north and south shore of the lake.

We’d recommend parking in the parking lot across Lake Wilhelm Road from Boat Launch #3, near the park office. This is where the trail technically “starts,” and wooden mile marker posts along the trail will correctly correspond to your distance traveled if you head out on the trail. 

A short yellow reflective post marks the beginning of the Lake Wilhelm bike trail.
Begin the trail here, beside the parking lot.

Other areas for parking to access the Lake Wilhelm bike trail (clockwise, on the map, from the park office) include: 

  • Boat Launch #4
  • Near the intersection of Valley View Road and Lake Road
  • The dam parking lot along Creek Road
  • Boat Launch #1
  • Boat Launch #2
  • End of Billy Boyd Road
  • Marina Parking Lot

The Lake Wilhelm bike trail offers convenient access points and multiple trail parking options to visitors. Just pick a spot and get biking!

Bike Rentals near the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail

While there aren’t a significant number of bikes available, there is a rental service available. It’s similar to city bike or scooter rentals.

To begin a bike rental, you’ll scan a QR code on a tag below the seat on the back of the bike. The service is provided via the Koloni app.

Once payment occurs, the bike lock will be released and you are free to ride. When finished, just lock the bike back up at one of the park’s bike racks.

6 bikes sit in a rack next to a brown sign board, available for rent to use on the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail.
These bikes were available for rent at the beginning of the trail.

Exploring the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Trail

Exploring the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail is an excellent way to spend a few hours, especially during the warmer months.

Exploring the trail can accommodate almost everyone, from novices to experts with various ability levels.

North Shore Views

The North Shore section of the Lake Wilhelm bike trail promises views of the lake, but this half of the trail is surrounded by a little more forest cover than the southern half.

Beginning at mile marker 0, near the park office, you’ll head through the posts on the paved trail.

You’ll cross narrow wooden bridges as you navigate over small waterways like Hill Run and James Run.

The first real views of the lake come around Boat Launch #4. You’ll also pass by small patches of farmland and can peak through thicker forests for views of the lake and surrounding hillside.

As you near the far side of the lake, you’ll cross over Dugan Run, where the trail crosses yet another small, scenic creek.

When you come around the turn and hear the rushing waters of the dam, you’ve made it about to the halfway point of the trail. A restroom facility can be found near the dam if you need a break halfway through, as well.

There are a few shelters, every couple of miles or so along this stretch of trail if you happen to get caught in a rain storm or just want to stop and take a break from the elements.

Views of Lake Wilhelm from the north side.

Creek Road Section

After crossing the dam, the next stretch of the trail uses Creek Road until you reach Boat Launch #1.

You’ll notice the Goddard-McKeever Trail heading up the hill through the woods, but you’ll stay on the roadway. This section is about 1 mile.

Take caution on this flat and easy section of the trail. While it is mostly a park road, Creek Road is still open to public traffic. You will likely encounter vehicles along this stretch.

Navigating through this segment of the trail requires careful attention, and bikers should follow all posted safety rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

South Shore Viewpoints

One of the most picturesque parts of the Lake Wilhelm bike trail is located on the southern shores. It’s also where you’ll find a couple of the steepest, but still short, hills along the trail!

The south shore viewpoints offer ample opportunities to stop and admire the scenery, with several locations specifically designated for this purpose. You’ll find park benches or picnic tables scattered along the south shore, especially near the boat launches.

Take caution at both spots where the multipurpose trail crosses Creek Road. The section crossing away from the lake is followed by a fairly intense uphill for leisurely riders. Coming back towards the lake, you’ll be traveling down a fairly steep grade. Make sure you’re brakes are working because Creek Road is right at the bottom of the hill.

Once you reach the marina, you’re nearing the end of your loop. You’ll follow the park road, past the parking lots and the marina store, out to Lake Wilhelm Road.

A cement boat launch ramp enters Lake Wilhelm near the end of the Lake Wilhelm Bike Trail.
When you reach the marina boat launch, you’ve almost finished the loop.

Lake Wilhelm Road Segment

The Lake Wilhelm Road segment, the final stretch of the loop if you began near Boat Launch #3, uses the Lake Wilhelm Road bridge. You’ll turn right from Creek Road onto Lake Wilhelm Road. Follow the road for 0.6 miles, and you’ll have returned to your vehicle on the right.

While this stretch is scenic, providing views of wildlife observation areas and the west end of Lake Wilhelm, you might not get to appreciate the expansive views.

You will have to take caution of this road section, as it is a fairly heavily traveled section of the road. The good news is that the road’s shoulder is fairly wide, with plenty of room to share the road with motorized traffic.

While the berm on the road is quite wide, it may be best for an adult to retrieve the vehicle while kids enjoy the playground near the marina if you’re enjoying the ride as a family. 

Additional Activities Along the Trail

In addition to the stunning forested shores broken up by beautiful expansive lake views, there are several activities that visitors can enjoy while exploring the Lake Wilhelm bike trail.

The trail has various picnic tables located at idyllic spots, making it a perfect place for a picnic lunch or snack break. Some are collected in picnic pavilions, while others are dispersed along the trail more sporadically.

Along with this, there are playgrounds located alongside the trail which make it an ideal spot for families with kids.

The Lake Wilhelm bike trail is also a popular spot for cross-country skiing during the winter months. Visitors can glide along the south shore on their skis, enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape and crisp winter air.

The north shore is reserved for snowmobiles during the winter months, given there is enough snow to accommodate the motorized sleds.

If you want to explore further, check out the Falling Run Nature Trail or the Goddard-McKeever Trail on foot.

Snow covers the Lake Wilhelm bike trail as a hiker and a dog explore.
Exploring the Lake Wilhelm multipurpose trail in winter.

An Overview of Lake Wilhelm

Nestled in picturesque Mercer County, Pennsylvania, is the stunning Lake Wilhelm. It covers an area of over 1,700 acres, making it one of the larger lakes in the region. The lake boasts beautiful views, and it’s a nestled spot for picnics, kayaking, fishing, and bird-watching.

The park’s accessible location, just off Lake Wilhelm Road only 5 minutes from Interstate 79, makes it a convenient and popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.

The Lake Wilhelm Multipurpose Loop Trail, which runs around the lake, is one of the most popular spots to enjoy in the park. 

More Pennsylvania Bike Trails We Love

If you’re a bike enthusiast in Pennsylvania, you’re in luck! There are a ton of amazing bike trails throughout the state that offer beautiful scenery and challenging terrain.

Here are a few more Pennsylvania bike trails that we love:

1. The Pine Creek Rail Trail: This 62-mile trail runs through the stunning Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and is perfect for a multi-day bike trip through the Tioga State Forest.

2. The Great Allegheny Passage: This 150-mile trail connects Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and offers a mix of urban and rural scenery. The trail passes through beautiful countryside and through Ohiopyle State Park.

3. Presque Isle State Park Multipurpose Trail: Nearby to the north, Presque Isle State Park features the flat 13.5-mile Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose Trail loop. It provides beautiful views of the bay on one side and Lake Erie beaches of Presque Isle State Park on the other side.

4. Moraine State Park Bike Trail: A paved bike trail at Moraine State Park covers 7 miles, one way, totaling a 14-mile bike ride. This trail features more hills and curves than the one at Presque Isle. Moraine State Park also has mountain biking trails for those more adventurous.

5. The Lehigh Gorge Trail: This 25-mile trail runs through the Lehigh Gorge State Park and offers stunning views of waterfalls and rock formations.

No matter which trails you choose, biking in Pennsylvania is a great way to stay active and enjoy the natural beauty of the state. Explore them all, using the Lake Wilhelm bike trail as a great warm-up for longer adventures.