A waterfall rushes through the woods behind campus.

Chasing waterfalls

Behind the gymnasium, about a quarter mile into the woods, you'll find a waterfall. A handful of Beaver students want everyone on campus to enjoy it, so they've proposed a walking trail that would wind around campus. Now they need the money and manpower to make it happen.
By: April Johnston
Beaver students plan to build a campus walking trail

Most Penn State Beaver students know if you travel the beaten path beyond the gymnasium to the left, you’ll end up at Wal-Mart. What many don’t realize is that if you turn right instead, and hike about a quarter mile, you’ll end up at a waterfall.

The problem is getting there.

Uneven terrain and fallen limbs make traversing the path a bit of a chore. But thanks to three Beaver students, that tricky hike could soon become a leisurely stroll.

Jared Boggs, Austin Schorr and Julie Worst developed a plan this semester in Associate Professor Angela Fishman’s sustainability class to clear the path of obstructions, lay wood chips and build several small bridges so that their fellow students can explore a few more of the campus’ 105 acres.

“It’s crazy not to use that property,” Worst said. “You attract a different kind of student when you have a campus like this that takes advantage of nature.”

In order to push the path from the idea stage to the reality stage, the trio of students met with Beaver Director of Business and Finance Adam Rathbun to discuss logistics and location. It wasn’t the first time Rathbun had heard about the need for a trail on campus – the running club and staff who walk on their lunch hours had suggested one before – and he agreed the students could forge ahead with their plans. He even assisted them by approaching the campus’ tree trimmer, who agreed to donate wood chips to the cause.

The rest of the plan will take a bit of money and work to execute. This summer, Pathway for Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) students expect to mark the trail, clear the safety hazards, dig a shallow path and lay the wood chips inside. The bridges will have to wait. The two by fours required to build them will likely cost a hundred or so dollars that the students don’t have right now.

Schorr isn’t too concerned. Even without them, the trail will be navigable.

And he’s still reeling from the heady experience of working side-by-side with campus administrators.

“We’re going to college not only to learn but also to get experience,” he said. “As a freshman I’m already working with Adam and (Interim Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer) Carey McDougall.”

Worst agreed.

“Seeing the actual trail will just be the icing on the cake,” she said.