Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the Delaware & Hudson Rail-Trail (D & H Rail-Trail) has been named Pennsylvania’s 2021 Trail of the Year.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Pennsylvania visitors and residents are heading outside for healthy and safe recreation opportunities, the D & H Rail-Trail has been a gem of Northeast Pennsylvania. It provides users near and far the opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful parts of the commonwealth, learn about the region history and engage in healthy activities,” Dunn said. “This trail also illustrates the benefits of trail connectivity and provides an example of what can be accomplished with strong community engagement. It very much deserves this recognition.”
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.
Each year, the DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates a Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for both large and small trails, and raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s trail network.
The 38-mile long D & H Rail-Trail extends through Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne counties and traces the former corridor of the Delaware & Hudson Railway, which primarily carried anthracite coal out of the Lackawanna Valley during the second half of the 19th century.
The trail welcomes motorized and non-motorized users, including walkers, bikers, equestrians, as well as snowmobilers.
The trail is situated in the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Heritage Region, the Endless Mountains Heritage Region, and the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape.
“This past year has shown us the importance of having trails close to home with a tremendous increase in trail users who have discovered the D & H.” said Lynn Conrad, executive director of the Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “This award helps to not only recognize the Rail-Trail Council’s past accomplishments but will encourage us to continue to improve and maintain the D & H Rail-Trail.”
The D & H Rail-Trail has enjoyed immense community support and efforts to help make its existence possible.
Trail visitors are given the opportunity to appreciate the scenic beauty of the trail and surrounding area as well as learn more about its historical significance to the region.
The Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which manages the D & H Rail-Trail, was organized in 1991.
It quickly began to recruit members, organize and complete trail cleanups and seek funding to help purchase the old railroad corridor for use as a rail trail.
The Rail-Trail Council continues to develop the trail and will celebrate 30 years as an organization in April 2021.
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.
In 2020, DCNR named Ghost Town Trail in Cambria and Indiana Counties as Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year.