Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced that the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath has been named Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year.
“It is my pleasure to announce that this diverse, historic trail has been selected to be Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year,” Dunn said. “Today, we celebrate the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath and the multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities it has provided for generations, as it continues to be a destination for so many people. With this honor, I am hopeful that even more people seek out this gem of a trail and the larger region to which it connects its users.”
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates the Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for trails across the state, and to raise public awareness about the value of the Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network. Pennsylvania continues its tradition of being a leader in trail development by providing its citizens and visitors with more than 12,000 miles of trails. In an effort to close the gaps in this network and bring trails to close everyone, DCNR has established a goal to have a trail within 10 minutes of all Pennsylvanians.
The 58.9-mile Delaware Canal Towpath passes through 18 municipalities in Bucks and Northampton counties. The towpath, where the mules once trod pulling the canal boats along the Delaware Canal, provides a level trail for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding. Boat accesses allow for canoeing and kayaking. In winter, ice skating and cross-country skiing are also popular along the towpath and canal.
The Friends of the Delaware Canal, the award recipient, works in partnership with Delaware Canal State Park, which manages the canal and towpath. The friends group assists with development and maintenance along the towpath, as well as helping to raise funds and awareness for the canal and towpath. They utilize the Canal Tenders volunteer program to watch over and care for sections of the towpath, and they also initiated a Canal Action Team to work on larger maintenance projects along the trail. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Friends of the Delaware Canal.
“The Friends of Delaware Canal are honored that the Delaware Canal Towpath was named Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year,” Michael Ginder, executive director of the Friends of Delaware Canal said. “The towpath has much to offer with a rich history and has seen an increase in visitors the past couple of years as more and more individuals spend time outdoors. The Trail of the Year recognition will allow the Friends to build on that increased visitor momentum as well as bolster the work we do to ensure the towpath trail is usable over its entire length.”
The Towpath is part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, which is 165 miles long and traverses five counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The Towpath is also in the Lehigh Valley Greenways and Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscapes.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Trails Strategic Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles for all. The 20-member DCNR-appointed committee represents both motorized and non-motorized trail users and advises the commonwealth on use of state and federal trail funding.