Goddard State Park

I’ve been 29 for almost two weeks! This birthday was one of the best I’ve ever had. I received birthday wishes from family and friends, my coworkers treated me to lunch, I had a delicious dinner at Penn Brewery, and Alan, Daphne and I took our first family bike ride together. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate the last year of my 20’s.

Alan’s gift to me was a family bike trip using our new bike trailer for Daphne. He did a wonderful job organizing every detail and getting the supplies. We needed a lot of things: a bike rack for the car, a new seat for Alan’s bike, bug spray, WD-40, air in the tires, a picnic lunch, snacks, sunscreen, extra diapers for Daphne… the list goes on! Taking a trip with an 18-month-old can be challenging, but with Alan’s help organizing everything, we were prepared and able to fully enjoy the day.

We decided to bike at Maurice K. Goddard State Park near Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania. Alan and I biked here once before, but it was a few years ago. Goddard State Park is definitely one of my favorite parks because the main trail is a paved, well-maintained, thirteen-mile loop. It’s surprisingly difficult to find paths that loop that are also maintained and challenging. Although this path isn’t too difficult, it definitely gets steep in a few spots. Personally, I like hills when I bike ride; it keeps things interesting!

We got to see Amish horses, too!

The trail borders Lake Wilhelm, so the view is beautiful the entire way. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded on the day we visited. We only passed about twenty other people. I think the overcast sky and spots of rain showers kept some people away.

Most importantly, Daphne enjoyed the trip. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how she would do in the bike trailer for over an hour. She’s been getting a little antsy in the stroller lately, so I was worried she would want to get out and walk. To my pleasant surprise, this wasn’t the case. She loved looking around and even kept her helmet on, too. I could hear her saying “whee!” a few times throughout the ride. At about mile ten, she did declare that she was “DONE!” but she settled down pretty quickly once she had a snack.

1. The path is fully paved and well-maintained. Ticks are becoming such a problem in Pennsylvania, so it’s very important that long grasses are kept under control.

2. There are shelters along the way. If you need to stop for a break, lunch, or to get out of the rain, the trail has several shelters for visitors to use.

3. It’s conveniently located. Goddard State Park is located right off of exit 130 of Interstate 79, making it easy to access from Pittsburgh.

4. The view of Lake Wilhelm is beautiful. The trail borders the lake for most of the ride, so you get a nice view of the water.

5. It’s a looping trail, so there’s no backtracking. One of the things I find (slightly) frustrating is backtracking. It’s so nice to be able to make a full loop on this trail.

6. It’s challenging, but not too challenging. There are plenty of hills and valleys, but they are manageable, even with a bike trailer.

7. The path is wide enough for people to pass comfortably. Even with the bike trailer, I never felt squeezed on the trail.

8. It’s not too crowded. At least, it never has been when I’ve been there! I imagine it does get busy in the summer, but if that does happen, see point #7.

9. It’s long enough to get a nice ride in. At thirteen miles, it’s more than just a quick trip around the lake. It feels like an event. It would also be a wonderful place for a “long run day” when training for a marathon.

I’ve always had visions of my family taking bike rides together someday, and it was so special to me that this dream finally came true. Thanks to everyone who helped make this birthday such a nice one.

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