The Delaware & Hudson Trail in northeastern Pennsylvania has been named Pennsylvania Trail of the Year for 2021.
The 38-mile trail extends through Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.
It 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.
Parts of the trail run through in the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Heritage Region, the Endless Mountains Heritage Region and the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape. (The Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program is a multi-region, asset-based, economic development program rooted in the state’s natural, cultural and industrial history. Conservation landscapes are regional to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization and recreational projects.)
The D&H Trail is open to motorized and non-motorized users, including walkers, bikers, equestrians as well as snowmobilers.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources designates a Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for trails and raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s trail network.
“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,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “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 has more than 12,000 miles of trails, and DCNR has established a goal to have a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvanian.
“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 council, which manages the 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 state 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.
— Marcus Schneck/PennLive via Associated Press