As a runner and as an officer of the Indiana Road Runners Club, the parks and trails created and maintained by Indiana County are very important to me and to my fellow club members. Our parks and trails provide us with beautiful natural areas where we can run, walk, and bike safely. Facilities in the parks and along the trails provide water and restrooms for those of us doing long training runs.
My Daily Commute
Riding my bicycle on the Hoodlebug Trail in Indiana County is beneficial in many ways. It provides me and many others equal opportunity recreational riding. I appreciate that anyone–regardless of physical condition, age, gender, or type of bike–can use the trail at their pace and feel they are in a safe place doing so. There is community value in being able to greet others on the trail doing activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional health.
Once Abandoned, Now Thriving
My friends and family frequently ride the trail into Martic and Conestoga townships. Eventually the trail will expand east toward Atglen and west toward Manor Township. My brother Jeff and I ride the trail together, and in the winter months we use the trail to cross-country ski and snowshoe. Every year we see an increase in summer and winter use of the trail. My wife and daughters use the trail on foot as well as wheels, and our family dogs enjoy the trail as much as we do!
A Safe Route to School
When Gettysburg High School was built in 1999, there was no safe way to walk or bicycle to the new high school. That changed with the NGT, a real community upgrade. The trail gets a lot of use from people enjoying a stroll out to the high school, as well as joggers and bicyclists. Personally, I enjoy the sight of young children and moms with strollers.
A Runner’s Favorite
I’ve run in a lot of places all over the world, and this trail, right along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, is one of the nicest places to run. It offers many benefits for me and for everybody else in my running club. In fact, it is really a central part of my life in Philadelphia and is a big part of what keeps me happy.
Sparking a Love
The Schuylkill River, its trail, and all of the tributaries that feed it have been a part of my everyday life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I spent my days on and along the river with my mother and father. Somewhere along the line of my hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and just about anything else you can imagine, I fell in love with the trail and river, and all that they have to offer.
I am a yoga teacher, and I lead yoga walks at Wildwood. The combination of walking and yoga in a natural environment can result in a very special experience! I enjoy introducing people to Wildwood through the yoga walks, and I believe everyone needs to connect with nature for a healthier lifestyle. Leading the meditation at the end of the yoga walks is my favorite part of the activity. Everyone seems so much more at peace!
I was born and raised in Lebanon County, just a few blocks away from the current Lebanon Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). I can remember walking along these tracks as a kid when the trains were still running and iron ore was being shipped to the various operations throughout America. In 1972, the trains stopped running due to flooded iron mines after Hurricane Agnes. Then in 1999 Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails began to develop the land into what is now the LVRT. When I finally decided to retire, I felt a need to try to give something back to the community, and helping on the trail seemed to fit what I was looking for.
What Sets a City Apart
Along with an estimated 1.1 million annual visitors, I have personally walked, jogged, bicycled, fished, cross-country skied, kayaked, and climbed cliffs in the park. Best of all, I currently help plan and execute large and small infrastructure and maintenance projects. On a lovely day any visitor will encounter people of all ages and backgrounds reveling in the opportunity to be outdoors away from the noise, press, heat, or cold wind of the concrete, asphalt, and steel metropolis.
Two Miles Closer
But the true wonder of the new Big Woods Trail is its accessibility. Designed to expand recreational activities to more people, this trail is hard-paved at a 5% slope. Unlike the rocky and muddy trails throughout the area, this trail is wheel-friendly and opens up hikes to wheelchairs, strollers, and other tools of limited mobility. As an educator, this enables me to bring more people out into the field for interpretive walks and lessons, which thrills me.
In the Heart of the City
During a particularly exciting bird walk along the creek with community residents on May 10, 2014 I was amazed by the sheer numbers of migrating songbirds that we were finding– from Worm-eating, Blue-winged, and Bay-breasted Warblers to Gray-cheeked Thrushes and a White-eyed Vireo–when up popped a Red-headed Woodpecker. Our excitement nearly tripled as we got to see this beautiful but rare bird for an extended period of time.
The Trolley Trail is not a typical rails- to-trails project where there are miles and miles of abandoned train tracks easily ready for a straightforward conversion. The original Trolley Trail now winds through swamps, backyards, Little League baseball fields, public roads, and all sorts of personal property.
Attracting People from All Backgrounds
As a trail user, I enjoy walking and biking the trail, alone or with my wife. Much of the trail is shaded by large trees or passes by open meadows, providing a scenic backdrop for our outings. Bluebird boxes have been placed along the trail, wildflowers attract a variety of native birds and bees, and deer and other wildlife can often be seen from the pathway. A local blogger recently posted a photo of a red fox happily trotting down the trail; apparently humans are not the only CVT enthusiasts! I find the trail to be an easy way to get an hour or two of exercise and fresh air, and I often come across friends and neighbors doing the same thing.
Falling in Love with Life
It is a trail for everybody. Most any bike will do to ride this rail trail, so there is no need for special equipment, extra gears, or special tires. Just ride. I’ve seen road bikes on the trail and I’ve seen spider bikes. And I’ve seen everything in between, including hybrids, cruisers, and recumbent bikes and trikes. They all work.
Although the process of creating the Conservancy and working to accomplish its mission of protecting the land put the idea of a trail on the back burner, Roz never lost sight of the vision of a community trail. She envisioned a place accessible to all: a place to walk through and enjoy the woods; a place for kids to learn to ride bikes without parents having to worry about cars; a place to push strollers, jog, or cross-country ski. The vision was in motion and there was no doubt she would prevail.
History and Beauty
My personal connection with Thousand Steps stems from many years ago when my parents took me there are a child. As an adult, it was one of the first places that I brought my wife when we were dating and she was new to the area. Now, later in life, I continue to bring my children, friends, and family on hikes there. Currently I enjoy running the trails in the area, and Thousand Steps is a great place to begin or finish a long run.
A Part of Our Lives
A Five Star Trail highlight for our family occurred when our son Regis did his Eagle Scout Project as a service to the Trail. Working with Malcolm Sias from Westmoreland County Parks, Regis planned and coordinated the building of two mini-pavilions at two different locations along the Five Star Trail with Scout Troop 405 from South Greensburg. The pavilions are large individual picnic tables protected by a shingled roof, and provide a place for trail users to rest beneath shelter from the sun or rain.
Lose Yourself on the Trail
Fifteen years later, it is now a regular part of my job as a park ranger to share my wonderment out on the 6 to 10 Trail. It’s been almost ten years since the trail was developed. Some sections along the oldest parts of the railroad are for hiking only. The trails are still fairly primitive, but much improved since my first time out there. Other parts of the trail, where the rough ballast rocks used to give me so much trouble, have now been covered with smooth, crushed limestone for the enjoyment of thousands of hikers and bicyclists every month.
A Lancaster County Gem
I first discovered the trail thanks to neighborhood friends; it was a place where we would walk our dogs. In those early days (1990s) I had a Yellow Lab, named Bart who enjoyed several swimming holes along Conewago Creek. At first my friends and I would only hike about two miles of the trail and never ventured past Rt. 743. As time went on Bart and I hiked past Rt. 743 and up to Belair Road for an eight-mile round trip.
Wheeling to Washington
My trip along the Montour Trail was a rewarding experience. Friendly people, a remarkable camping trail accommodation–it makes a perfect getaway for anyone seeking some solitude outside of Pittsburgh. Once all the trail sections are completed, the Montour Trail will become one spectacular trail system that creates a large “C” skirting around the greater Pittsburgh area.