On January 13, 2020, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the Ghost Town Trail has been named Pennsylvania’s 2020 Trail of the Year.
“Rich with the history of railroading and former coal mining towns along its 46-mile route, the Ghost Town Trail, like so many rail trails throughout Pennsylvania, captures the spirit of an industrial past and the promise of a recreational future,” said Dunn. “ And again, we see a rails-to-trails conversion spawning economic benefits with establishment of new businesses and increasing patronage at others. Restaurants, bike shops, clothing retailers and outfitters, hotels, and motels. The list goes on and on.”
Pennsylvania is a national leader in trail development, providing its citizens and visitors with more than 12,000 miles of trails across the commonwealth, from gentle pathways threading through miles of preserved greenways, to remote, rugged trails scaling the state’s highest mountains.
Cooperatively managed by the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority (CCCRA) and Indiana County Parks & Trails, the trail is named for long-gone coal-mining communities once dotting the railroad corridor. Formed in 1994 as a 12-mile segment, Ghost Town Trail was the first trail in the state constructed with transportation enhancement funding. In 2005, the 32-mile main stem of the trail was completed from Blairsville, Indiana County, to Ebensburg, Cambria County.
Recently marking its 25th anniversary, Ghost Town Trail needs only 5.5 miles to complete the first continuous loop of rail trail in the Eastern United States. It is estimated approximately 80,000 users enjoy the trail each year. Ghost Town Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail in June 2003 and was ranked 7th on the “Best Hiking Trails in the United States” list by American Towns Media in 2016.