Traverse a New Trail

" " A decades-long plan to carve a new walking path around Bucknell’s campus comes to fruition this fall

by Brooke Thames

Illustration: Barbara Wise

Professor Claire Campbell, history, used to be known as “the lady with the stroller,” struggling as she wheeled her toddler son from their home across Bucknell’s grassy lawns to a childcare center in Lewisburg.

“Foot transportation has long been a concern in certain areas of the University, whether it’s sports teams running near Route 15 or staff members walking to work from nearby neighborhoods,” Campbell says. “The walkability and safety of this campus is a high priority for students, faculty and staff.”

This fall, Bucknell will premiere a new, 4-mile multiuse path, including a paved, wheelchair-accessible section, along the perimeter of its grounds. The path will connect the main campus to the athletics fields across Route 15.

It’s a project that’s been decades in the making, with proposals for an expansive pedway tracing back to the mid-1980s. Those plans progressed when Campbell joined Technology Desk Manager Bud Hiller and Technology Support Specialist Jamie Piperberg on a campus sustainability working group focused on ecological restoration, public health and outdoor immersion. The team used Google Maps to chart a rough course and then walked it themselves to further refine the trail’s loops and turns.

In addition to enhancing transportation and safety, the path will also provide opportunities for environmental repair and connecting with nature.

“Part of this initiative is about raising our awareness of the natural landscape around us and the ways Bucknell is contributing to sustainability,” Hiller says. “So there’s the option to add features like pollinator gardens to enhance the path even further.”

Other possible additions include signage with information about sustainability features on campus — such as the Bucknell Farm or tree restoration along the Miller Run creek — as well as outdoor class spaces.

“The great thing is that this can be a living project,” Piperberg says. “It can develop and grow far into the future.”