On the east side of the RIT campus is an asphalt sidewalk that runs along John Street. This is no ordinary sidewalk, this is actually the northern branch of the Lehigh Valley Trail. For the most part, this trail is gravel, and by extension, not very fun (if not impossible) to longboard on. However, this section of the trail that runs parallel to John Street is paved, and is therefore possible to longboard on!
This segment starts at the intersection of Jefferson Road and John Street. While the trail does extend north of Jefferson Road, if you are on a longboard, it probably isn't worth the trouble. After crossing Jefferson road, you'll have to ollie over railroad tracks, only to find out that the rest of the Lehigh Valley Trail is gravel, and impossible to skate on.
Heading south from Jefferson road, on your right you'll see Park Point, and on your left is John Street. You'll eventually cross Trail Crossing Road, so be mindful or cars pulling in or out of Park Point. On the other side of Trail Crossing Road is a hill that you'll have to skate up. If you're traveling north, it isn't that exciting of a hill to go down, but it is something!
At the top of this hill, to your left you'll see The Province student housing, and to your right you'll see some of Park Point's student housing. This area of the trail is pretty flat, and will remain so as you reach the intersection of Perkins Drive and John Street. This intersection does having a crossing light, so I recommend pressing it and waiting for the sign to say "Walk". If you were to take a right here, there are paved sidewalks you can skate on to reach the RIT campus.
As you cross Perkins, the trail becomes a bit rough here. There are several cracks in the trail that your wheels can get caught in and stop your board. There are also some trees that can drop acorns that are not fun to run over. The trail here is also pretty flat and will remain so as you approach the next intersection, which is Wiltsie Drive. Like Perkins Road, this intersection also has a crossing light. Also like Perkins Road, taking a right will take you to the RIT campus.
After crossing Wiltsie Drive, there isn't really much to see. On your left you'll see some generic commercial space, and on the right you'll see trees and a field. The trail itself here is also pretty flat and boring.
Once you pass Highpower Road on your left, which is where MKS Instruments is, there is a hill you need to go up. This hill is pretty big and steep. According to GPX data, the hill is about a 30 feet tall (about 9 meters for our non-US friends). Going up this hill is exhausting, but how about going down? I'm not going to lie, it wasn't that great, and I was actually worried about going down at full speed. For me, it wasn't the hill size that was the issue, but it was the shape the trail was in. There were several cracks in the trail that genuinely worried me that my wheel would get caught in it and I would go flying at a fast speed. Going down the hill, I actually bailed 3 times into the grass as I got close to these big cracks (I was also still new, and didn't want get in over my head). Maybe someday the trail would be in better shape and going down this hill will be fun, but the quality of the trail in this area makes it rather sketchy to go down.
Towards the top of the hill you'll reach the RIT Observatory on your right, and from there it is the home stretch until you reach Bailey road. This is where I turn around, but there are sidewalks south of Bailey road and east along Bailey road as well if you wanted to keep going.
Getting to it
One could park inside of Park Point and walk over to the trail. If you are allowed to park at RIT, you can also park in A Lot, B Lot, C Lot, or K Lot and make a short skate down Perkins Road or Wiltsie Drive to get to the trail.
The main hazard is there are a few intersections that you need to cross. Be on the lookout for cars as you cross the intersections. Remember, this is near a college campus, so there are inexperienced drivers. Keep on the look out as you cross the street at these intersections.
Trail Crossing Road is one intersection, and it does not have a crossing light. It is also at the bottom of a hill if you are traveling north, so make sure you know how to brake so you don't hit a car pulling out of Park Point.
The second intersection is Perkins Road. This intersection does have a crossing light. If traveling south, the other side of Perkins Road has some pretty nasty pot holes, so be mindful of that after crossing.
The third intersection is Wiltsie Drive. Like Perkins Road, this intersection does have a crossing light.
In addition to intersections, the trail itself is pretty bumpy as of writing. There are some nasty cracks that can swallow a wheel and send you flying. If you have bigger wheels, I recommend using those to make it over the cracks in the road. Most notably, the south-side of Perkins Road can be rough.
RIT is built on a swamp, so it should be no surprise that there are mosquitos. However, I did not expect this many. One night when I was longboarding on the trail, I must have gotten bit 10 times on my legs. Wear repellent if you plan on skating this trail.
This trail is boring! There are literally 2 hills; one of which is boring, the other one isn't enjoyable because the trail is in rough shape. The rest of the trail is pretty flat or uphill. You also probably have to stop a few times depending on traffic as you cross intersections. Also, mosquitos!
However, this trail is paved, so it is traversable via longboard. And as long as a car doesn't jump the curve and hit you, it is also safe. There also isn't too much foot traffic like the Erie Canal Trail.
Overall, I give this trail a "Meh" rating. If you need to commute via longboard to RIT or somewhere nearby, the trail is tolerable for that. However, if you want to longboard for fun, head down Perkins Road and skate the RIT campus instead. At least the RIT campus is a bit more interesting.
Lehigh Valley Trail
- Segment Rating: Meh
- Segment Length: 1.51 miles (2.42 kilometers).
- Minimum Elevation: 158.30 meters.
- Maximum Elevation: 170.80 meters.
- Average Elevation: 161.52 meters.
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