Full article found – http://www.ldnews.com/outdoors/ci_28839555/outdoors-take-hike-pas-trails-are-world-class
Every year, the number of new trails in the state increases, and so does the number of users
By Dave Wolf – For The Daily News 9/18/15
I have been told to take a hike on more than one occasion. But this request is usually made without malice, just from of my friend’s warped sense of humor.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Trails Advisory Committee announced the release of the 2014 annual Trail Report that highlights the efforts of the many individuals and organizations that make Pennsylvania’s trails a world-class destination for out-of-state, as well as international visitors.
Today, more Pennsylvanians have access to trails than ever before. The vision of a statewide network of trails is becoming a reality due to the sustained efforts of dedicated and skilled trail planners, builders, volunteers, advocates and financial partners.
According to the report, 2014 was a banner year for trails. Throughout the year, 26 trail projects were completed in 28 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, in addition to several statewide projects. Nearly $4 million in state grant funds were expended, which leveraged approximately $8 million through local and private expenditures. More than 14,600 volunteer hours were reported to the Keystone Trails Association. Certainly, these numbers are low and do not reflect the breadth of completed trail projects, true time commitment of volunteers, or expenditures throughout the commonwealth.
Because of these accomplishments, citizens have greater access to trails. As of December 2014, approximately 29 percent of Pennsylvanians lived within one mile of an open trail, and approximately 39 percent lived within one mile of an open or planned trail.
Developing a statewide trail network would not be possible without the time commitment from enthusiastic and skilled volunteers, and significant financial and technical assistance from various local, regional, and state partners. In 2014, more than $34 million from state funding programs was awarded to trail and trail-related projects.
Trails are a great place to spend time during the fall months. The hikes can be short – an hour or less – or they can become a week-long retreat. But any long-time hiker will tell you that you have to be prepared, and that means taking along all the essentials.
As with any outdoor activity, be sure you’re in shape and capable of traversing the terrain you are likely to encounter. Make sure to bring any medication(s) you might be taking, and be prepared to live without that computer or cell phone.
Hiking most often means going into areas without cell service, and means of charging any electronic devices. If you plan on taking photos, be sure your batteries are charged before you leave, and always carry extra batteries with you.
Water is a necessity of life, so choosing a backpack with a water bladder inside will help with your water supply. Food is also something you will need, and while day hikers should be able to get by with numerous options in the way of energy bars, freeze-dried foods are now easy to come by, and not nearly as bad to the taste as they had been years ago.
There are projects now going on throughout the state, and I will be limited to naming only a few.
Lebanon County, Lebanon City >> The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) extends from the Lebanon-Lancaster County line in the south for 15 miles through Mt. Gretna, and into the city of Lebanon. Phase 5 of the project was completed in late summer of 2014, and consisted of an extension through Lebanon City.
This phase included the development of one mile of shared use path through the city, along with development at six intersections with curbs, sidewalks, ADA accommodations and warning signals. In total, Phase 5 cost $695,000, which included the design, inspection and construction of the trail addition.
Sept. 11th National Memorial Trail >> We shall never forget 9/11 for many reasons. Those of us who lived through that tragic day in American history will most likely remember the day as they hike or bike the September 11th National Memorial Trail.
It is a network of trails that connects the Pentagon Memorial in Washington D.C., the National September 11th Memorial in New York City, and the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA. This trail network is being developed to primarily use existing and planned trails and greenways, with the use of roadways in a few necessary locations.
In March of 2014, the Pentagon Memorial Trail Circuit map was announced by the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. The map is a walking and cycling guide to the numerous memorials located in Virginia and Washington D.C., all within a short distance of the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Va. The map includes walking and cycling paths for a variety of ages and skill levels.
13 Counties >> One of the more interesting projects includes 13 Counties in north-central PA.
The PA Wilds Artisan Trail Advisory Committee worked with the North Central Regional Planning & Development Commission to create the online PA Wilds Artisan Trail Story Map. It is a great promotional tool that allows the traveling public to access information about the trail from their smart phones, and other mobile devices. The story map includes pictures of each trail site, hours of operation, and a short description. Once downloaded, story maps can be used in places without cell phone coverage, a great feature for the rural PA Wilds landscape.
Public art is featured on the Artisan Trail Story Map, including murals and other artistic works that have been installed in communities in the PA Wilds in recent years, and the story map is a great way to expose the public to these attractions.
Over one million page views on ExplorePAtrails, the commonwealth’s all-inclusive resource for trail users, is an indication that trails are becoming more popular with each passing year, and are used by hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, photographers and campers. Getting outside can include a small trek on flat land, and there are also more and more trails for the handicapped.
Exercise in the outdoors, whether as a pursuit, or an escape from the everyday routine, is something we all need and should enjoy. Through it, we release ourselves from becoming one of those proverbial “couch potatoes” or “armchair heroes,” we have all been accused of from time to time. So as the air becomes cooler, with the crisp notes of fall, choose a trail near you and get “out there.”
Free-lance writer Dave Wolf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.