Route:  Toftrees Railroad Trail Runs
Mileage:  4.5 - 10.2 (Profiled routes are 5.8 and 10.2 miles)
Hillage: Mostly flat with a very steep downhill near the beginning and a very steep uphill near the end.

Elevation change: 188 ft. for Toftrees Fitness Trail Turnaround. 220 ft for full Cedar Cliff Run.
Average Grade: 2%. Notable hills: 

College Heights/Overlook Heights Bike Path: The bike path connecting College Heights and Overlook Heights is a roller-coaster ride for bicyclers. The Toftrees Railroad Trail Runs take the bike path to the bottom of Big Hollow, and do not continue back up the other side of the ravine. Going downhill from the corner of Mckee and Adams in College Heights, the ravine descends 130 ft in about 0.4 miles. Grade: 6.3%. 
Wooded Return Path: The optional return path out of Big Hollow near the end of the run ascends a short, but very steep footpath and connects to the bike path near the top of the hill. The ascent is again 130 ft, this time in about half a mile. The steep climb up the footpath is concentrated: a 9.6% grade! 
Ascent to Cedar Cliff
The trip along the Toftrees Trail is itself a very long and gradual ascent. In the 2.5 miles from the start of the Toftrees Railroad Trail to the high point about a half-mile from the end of the trail, the trail ascends 220 ft, for an average grade of about 1.7%.

Description:  The run described here is the 10.2 mile run to the Cedar Cliff development. The two elevation profiles below are for the run to Cedar Cliff and back and to the Toftrees Fitness Trail turnaround and back. The red mileage marks on the map refer to the Cedar Cliff Run. The blue mileage marks refer to the run to the Toftrees Fitness Trail turnaround and back. Variations of this route abound and some are described and illustrated on the map.

The start of the Toftrees Railroad Trail Runs is the same as that of the Heritage Oaks Loop, the Wal-Mart Loop and the East Aaron Loops. Start in front of Rec Hall and run northwest on the walkway that passes the Nittany Lion Inn heading toward Park Avenue. Carefully cross Park Avenue and immediately go left on North Burrowes. Two blocks later, go right on Adams Avenue. Take Adams all the way to McKee St. and take a left. Pass Joe Paterno's house (the last house on the left before Sunset Park) and then head down the bike path that begins at the end of the parking lot for Sunset Park. This bike path connects the neighborhoods of College Heights and Overlook Heights, but crosses a deep ravine (part of "Big Hollow").

At the bottom of the hollow, make a right on the Toftrees Railroad Trail. At this point the trail is paved with finely crushed stone and is an excellent running surface. Continue on the Toftrees Railroad Trail as long as you like, then turn around and go back to Rec Hall the way you came. When you get to the Toftrees Golf Course, the trail is in the open for a while with many golf paths branching from it. The trail itself keeps going and it should be obvious how to stay on it. Here are out-and back mileages to some landmarks on the trail:

(1) The paved part of the trail ends just after crossing the University owned part of East Aaron Drive and about a quarter mile before passing under the bridge for Rt 322. Running to the far end of the viaduct before turning back gives you a 4.5 mile run.

(2) Continue about another 2/3-mile past the bridge for Rt. 322 to the marked Toftrees Fitness Trail. If you turn back here, you'll have run about 5.8 miles. The first profile below and the blue mileage markers on the map refer to this run.

(3) If you make it to Toftrees Avenue before turning around, you'll have a 6.7 mile run.

(4) Go all the way until the trail spills out onto Montauk Circle in the Cedar Cliff development. Run a clockwise loop through Cedar Cliff on Montauk Circle and Manhasset Drive, pick up the trail again, and head back. This run is 10.2 miles.The second profile below and the red mileage markers on the map refer to this run. If you skip the amble through the development, you'll have run about 9.6 miles.


(1) There is a trail in the woods along side the bike path from Sunset Park to the Toftrees Railroad Trail. Taking this trail to the Toftrees Trail cuts about 0.1 mile off the route each way. It's a treacherous downhill, and a very challenging uphill.

(2) Take the Toftrees Fitness Trail as it parallels the Railroad Trail. This trail is about 0.1 miles longer each way.

(3) Take the 4 Hills Alternative. Head east from Rec Hall on Curtin Rd. Make a left on Bigler Rd. Cross Park Avenue and bear right with the road. After passing the Salvage Building, make a left on the Big Hollow Rd. which  heads down hill. About a quarter mile down the hill is a gate, which marks the start of "4 Hills", a series of gentle drops. At the bottom of the hill, as Big Hollow Rd bears right, go left on the dirt road. This road bears left and becomes Aaron Drive. It crosses the Toftrees Trail about 0.1 miles from Big Hollow Rd. Taking this alternative route adds about 0.15 miles each way.

Remarks: The Toftrees Railroad Trail Runs are a selection of pleasant trail runs for the good weather months. The trails are usually snowed under from December through early March, and can be treacherous till mid-April. But once spring hits, the meadows and shaded stretches of Big Hollow offer a nice "country" run that is close at hand.


(Click for
Larger View)

(To Toftrees
 Fitness Trail


(Cedar Cliff

                          Added: 9/05