Cumberland Valley Rail Trail
By Noel Purdy
President of Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce
I use the Chambersburg section of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail several times a week, mostly for recreation. I am an avid runner. One of the reasons I chose to live in downtown Chambersburg was because of the quick access to the rail trail, which is just steps away from my house. To the north, the trail connects me to Chambers Fort Park, a former grist mill that anchored the town’s development at the confluence of the Conococheague Creek and Falling Spring. Within five minutes, I can be in a pastoral area, jogging through the equestrian and vegetable farms at Wilson College.
Since having a child four years ago, my husband and I have used the rail trail even more; it is basically the park in our backyard. The rail trail also serves as a connector to other parks in the Borough, which we frequent quite a bit. For three and half years, I pushed my daughter in a jogging stroller along the rail trail and to all the places it could take us. She has started to run with me for short jaunts around town, which include a loop to Main Street to look at the murals and storefront window displays. She learned to ride her bike and scooter along the rail trail too. Lately, we’ve been taking a short detour to ride the hills at the pump (bike) track, which is next to one segment of the trail, where I push her up and down the packed dirt hills that circle ’round and ’round. And we always go for walks and adventures along the trail, taking time to meander a few feet off to nearby pathways that go down to the creek. We often stop to pick wild berries, chase ducks, and admire a variety of wild flowers in patches of brush and trees that line the path. On a hot day, we’ll take a dip in the creek. Whether we are jogging, walking, or riding bikes, we always take note of the groundhogs and squirrels that scurry across in front of us.
Beyond my personal uses, the rail trail is an essential part of Chambersburg’s pedestrian and bike network, used by residents from all walks of life. Rail trails are critical transportation linkages that connect people to recreation, commerce, history, culture–and to each other. I can’t wait for the rail trail to be extended and connected to other bike and pedestrian networks in and around the town. The rail trail is an important part of my quality of life. I know it is for many other people too.