The Panhandle Trail has had tremendous impact along its entire length. Not only do hundreds of people use it each day to walk, run, and ride, but communities have developed events and policies because of it. The Keystone Fund played a crucial role in making the trail a reality. I personally know of people who have moved to Collier and South Fayette just to be near the trail. It is a year-round resource, as the many cross country skiers will attest.
I’m sure I speak for all the business owners along Front Street by saying there is no doubt the opening of the trail has brought a multitude of people–young and old–to Marietta. Lots of walkers, joggers, cyclists, hikers, kayakers, boaters, and history buffs have come to explore our town.
In 2015, Hawk Mountain opened a first-ever accessible trail to the South Lookout. I attended the standing room-only grand opening, which had people with all kinds of disabilities and those without disabilities enjoying the trail. The one thing all people had in common was their smiles when they reached the Lookout.
But what’s most important is not what I have done for the trail, but what it has done for me. There is the joy when I see families pushing strollers along the trail, or when I see the National Guard or Penn State runners training on the trail. There was joy and excitement when Dennis (my significant other) and I handed water and sports drinks to half-marathon runners on the trail during our Town and Trail Event.
I also discovered the Delaware and Lehigh Trail section from Allentown to Easton. I ran, biked, and raced on it. It was my special place to get away, to think, to recharge my batteries. I was obsessed with spending time on the trail. Each time a new section was complete I had a new place to explore. When the segment from Cementon to Slatington was opened, it connected me to an endless playground. I can now ride my bike from my house to White Haven and beyond and be on less than five miles of pavement.
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.
The Capital Area Greenbelt in Harrisburg has been our favorite fall and winter riding area. We ride mostly at night, with good illumination from the great lights that are available. The group rides range from five to 15 people. What a joy it is to see 10 or more riders doing these rides.
The Bedford Heritage Trail, which opened in September 2015, connects the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa to downtown Bedford. The trail has made a big impact on our community in many ways. It is a very popular venue for local walkers and joggers. It has increased the number of Omni Bedford Springs Resort guests who visit downtown. It has opened up the Resort’s rustic trail system to local hikers and mountain bikers. It has provided a safe way for bicyclists to avoid a narrow and dangerous section of State Route 220. It has added an amenity to our town that people reference with pride.
Thanks to the Keystone Fund, this route is a beautiful destination for outdoor enthusiasts and boasts one of the most impressive rail-trails in Pennsylvania. The 165-mile trail cuts through 4,500 acres of river gorge parkland along the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, weaving past stunning landscapes, historic towns, dramatic waterfalls, and the remnants of the Lehigh and Delaware canals.
The 21-acre Island Park, nestled between the Schuylkill River and the Reading and Blue Mountain Railroads, is Schuylkill Haven’s only remaining open recreational space. Before the flood, the area accommodated a few softball and soccer fields. The community had considered improvements to the park over the years. But the flood damage forced them to start from scratch.
Although Columbia has always been technically on the map, the community is now a destination. Instead of stumbling upon it, visitors seek out its recreational opportunities. These visitors are not just spending their time in the borough–they’re spending their money.
Within six years, the first section of the Pine Creek Rail Trail–a 17-mile stretch–was opened to the public, connecting Ansonia to Blackwell. Since then, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its partners have added dozens of miles and numerous amenities to the rail trail. With the money from the Keystone Fund, DCNR has rehabilitated bridges to enhance beauty and safety and built parking lots and public restrooms that offer modern conveniences to this rustic path.
With support from the Keystone Fund, volunteers from Muncy Historical Society and Museum of History led community members and other partners in an effort to turn the the donated open land into a public park complete with a trail system, picnic pavilion, educational exhibits, and a model of the lock system once employed by the canal.
In addition to reconnecting people to the beautiful Brodhead Creek, the trail system provides easy connections to 14 public parks, three playgrounds, two skate parks, a dozen ball fields, two swimming pools, two fishing ponds, a disc golf course, a regular golf course, nine schools, a university, a community center, and two downtown historic districts. An ADA accessible trailhead provides trail access to the trail as well as to a wide overlook area at the top of the levee with park benches and an informational kiosk.
Planning for the Hanover Trolley Trail began in earnest in 2009 when Keystone Fund grants helped bring together the York County Rail Trail Authority and local officials to examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of the trail on the former trolley line.
The sweeping meadows are planted with drought-resistant native species to manage stormwater. The greenway and its amenities, including a paved riverfront esplanade, seating areas, and interpretive signs detailing the history and ecology of the area, are ADA accessible.