When on the trail I feel the stresses of the day go away, reminding me of the practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or “forest immersion,” developed by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries as a sustainable, non-extractive way to derive benefit from the country’s forests. I feel a friendly connection with people I meet, and am amused by the occasional dog accompanying its family for a walk. In addition, I feel appreciation for what the trail and greenway mean to people who visit or enjoy them, or otherwise benefit from their presence, and for the remarkable teamwork that brought them into being and continues to expand them.
The trail brings visitors from all over the United States as well as all over the world. Many of these visitors are passing through Confluence, either riding the GAP or as part of a longer trip, including many who are riding coast to coast. The natural beauty as well as all the recreation opportunities of the region leads many of them to return. The GAP is one of the best ambassadors for the Laurel Highlands Region.
No matter the season, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail hosts runners of all types and abilities. It isn’t the start line or the finish line, but the place where all the hard work and tenacity happens. On the trail, runners log their training miles and overcome their biggest obstacles.
The Heritage Rail Trail has become the go-to facility for planning and staging a successful event. Through these successes, many non-profit agencies gain public recognition and are financially sustained. The Rail Trail Authority is proud to be the developer of the Heritage Rail Trail and grateful to the York community for embracing the Heritage Rail Trail and its newest event, the Pumpkin Walk.
I drive every day up Market Street which runs parallel to the bike path and there’s always a lot of traffic on the path, whether it’s people running, walking, or riding their bicycles. The path is relatively flat, which is great for beginners, families, and those looking to add some exercise in their daily routine.
The more I ran at Marilla, the more I felt responsible to expose this hidden gem to the trail running community at large. Out of that obligation, the Marilla Trail Race was born; 2017 will be the event’s fourth year. It has brought hundreds of runners from across the country to Bradford and given us the opportunity to showcase some of western Pennsylvania’s world-class wilderness.
You can stop almost anywhere along the trail and marvel at the beauty and wildlife you see. At times I allowed my imagination to take a trip of its own. At the Indian God Rock, I imagined the Native Americans canoeing along the river and what their lives might have been like. You see, to me the Garden of Eden is not so much a place, but a way of life. They lived right in the middle of it and so do we, if we only take the time to look.
These days, the trail has a whole new generation of users. In the winter there are people on snowmobiles, cross country skiers, hikers, teachers, and learners. In the summer there are bikers, hikers, scout groups, and more teachers and learners. Through the four seasons there is always something to learn. Animal tracks are always present, either in the snow or in the mud.
The Ghost Town Trail proved to be an invaluable resource for my running partners and me as we trained for the 2016 Chicago Marathon. We utilized various sections of the trail based on our training plan requirements. For speed work, we started in Ebensburg and ran downhill to Nanty Glo. Short recovery runs on Ebensburg’s crushed gravel sections helped keep our legs healthy. For distance runs, we took advantage of the Vitondale station for parking and water stops. The heat, humidity, and dew point were a brutal mix for 20-mile runs; Vitondale’s resources were much appreciated.
The trail provides an excellent surface, completely traffic-free. It traverses a region of unusual natural beauty. The trail tracks through forests along Kratzer Run, Anderson Creek, and the Susquehanna River. Running on this trail evoked the history of the region—especially that of the Susquehannock native people, who lived in villages along these streams, and traveled the rivers and pathways of the area for centuries.
The race, which is now in its eighth year, has been held on the Ironton Trail each spring. We are privileged to have such a beautiful, scenic backdrop to host our event and distribute bikes to a most deserving group of individuals. The gifts many of us take for granted are ones that our bike recipients finally get to cherish as the result of hard work from dedicated volunteers, runners, and sponsors who help make our event a success.
Breeding cerulean warblers tend to cluster together; a handful of such clusters occur in Pennsylvania. One of these is along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River in south-central Pennsylvania, where Blair and Huntingdon counties meet. Fortunately, for monitoring these birds, the Lower (rhymes with flower) Trail, a 16.5 mile-long rail-trail, is adjacent to the river there and provides an ideal way to count them.
The South Bethlehem Greenway creates greenspace and a vibrant rail trail in the core of the most densely developed area of Bethlehem and the area of the city most lacking in recreation opportunities and open space. However, the Greenway is much more than recreation space, creating a hub of urban activity for a variety of residents and visitors.
After years of envisioning and planning, the acquisition of the rail line by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, and aligning broad-based community support, a breakthrough in Keystone funding occurred. This was coupled with many generous donors, businesses, local foundations, and our local government all coming together to ultimately catalyze implementation. My three young daughters, Gianna, Sophia, and Avila refer to it as “that fun road.” That joy they had the first time they used it is shared across all demographics, as this is a trail that has truly become owned by the greatest asset in our community: our residents.
The James W. McIntyre Hiking and Biking Trail is a 2.5-mile trail that winds through a 275-acre wooded tract of land that was donated to Indian Lake Borough by PBS Coals, Inc. The entire project was funded through both federal and state funding, which included grants for the construction costs from the Pennsylvania Transportation Enhancement Program and the Southern Alleghenies Regional Planning and Development Commission. Keystone Fund grants totaling $72,800 helped with construction and engineering costs.
I fully believe that our use of the Struble Trail has helped our small running group grow, and with our growth we have been able to provide over $800,000 to the American Cancer Society in fundraising. This isn’t hyperbole. The Struble is a perfect place to take people like myself, who are not runners, and turn them into runners and even philanthropists.
Midway down the trail I take a break to view a train pulling oil tankers east on the mainline. Watching them cross over the Conemaugh Viaduct, I wonder how it must have looked during the tragic flood. The original viaduct was destroyed by the forces of the flood. The rushing water and debris temporarily dammed up here, until the viaduct gave way. Although it gave the water more strength, I wonder if it also allowed people in the floods path a few more minutes to escape. It is amazing how nature can destroy, and can also heal.
Spring Creek runs clear and cold, and is fed, as its name indicates, by the many springs along its course. The trail is a walker’s delight. Each meander of the stream is an invitation to new discoveries. The riparian environment is perfect for turtles, and the numerous insects the wary trout depend upon. A wide variety of trees, bushes, ferns, and wildflowers adds additional interest. The path, much of which follows Fish Commission access roads, makes for easy, pleasant walking.
I walk the Poquessing Creek Trail every day with my 3-year-old Yorkie-Poo, Bubba. He is very active and wants to play all the time, and I began taking him to the trail soon after he joined our family. We both love the trail–sometimes I’m not sure which one of us loves it more. This is the story of our daily journey.
I am a person who likes to go off trail, when possible. So when Pennypack on the Delaware opened, my brother and I immediately explored the gated area to the north. There we had to wade through tall grasses to access the riverside trail, and it was on that trail that I experienced my first double rainbow, my first sighting of eagles, and my first glimpse of the mouth of the Pennypack Creek. I especially like the mudflats and lilies at low tide. The trail was curious to me. It was well-worn. But who had been walking there?