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The Buffalo Valley Rail Trail is coming to campus, offering Bucknellians even easier access to the shops, restaurants, parks and other amenities of historic downtown Lewisburg.

The borough in May received a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that will help extend the rail trail and support beautification around Bull Run Creek. Opened in 2011, the bike and walking trail rambles through 9.5 miles of idyllic countryside, passing the occasional farm market and ice cream stand on the way to the neighboring town of Mifflinburg. A 2015 extension project brought it across state Route 15 and into Lewisburg’s downtown, where it currently terminates at Market Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. The new extension will deliver trail users to Bucknell’s doorstep on Sixth Street near Vedder Hall.

Greg Caso ’18, who founded and was president of the Bucknell Bison Running Club, ran the trail from his first year at Bucknell right up to his graduation. He says shortening the distance between the trail and campus should boost the number of students who take advantage of it.

“It’s one of my favorite places to train, and is really great at the start of the year for the running club,” Caso says. “It’s straight, easy to navigate, and gives us the time to run at our own paces and also talk and get to know one another.”

Bucknell’s Outdoor Education & Leadership office encourages students to venture into the surrounding area by organizing trips along the trail and to explore it on their own through programs such as its Bison Bikes bike-share program. Director Tony Stafford says the program makes nearly 100 bikes available for free, semester-long rentals and a smaller number for short-term leases and field trips.

The rail trail also provides Bucknell students with opportunities for scholarship and research. Students have created award-winning digital story maps of the trail, examined how it contributes to the health and well-being of the region, and even helped lay the groundwork for the extension project.

Construction on the extension is anticipated to conclude by summer 2020.