Jan Walker, 61, of Knoxville, Tenn., was the first hiker/biker to complete the September 11th (9/11) virtual National Memorial Trail Challenge, where she hiked through a 1,362-mile Smoky Mountain trail in Tennessee, which is comparable to the 1,300-mile, biking, hiking and motor-friendly 9/11 National Memorial Trail that connects the three 9/11 memorial sites via six states and the District of Columbia — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Walker also completed a cross-country hike from Oceanside, Calif., to Ocean City, Md., in 2016 in support of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance. The transcontinental walk took seven months through nine states and Washington, D.C. For more information or to donate, go to www.911trail.org.
The 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance created the virtual 9/11 Trail Challenge as an outlet during COVID-19 to encourage participants to get outdoors and explore their local trails and greenways by committing to walk, run and/or bike 1,300 miles in their local areas, similar to the 1,300-mile, 9/11 National Memorial Trail (with socially distanced precautions). Although the hiking part of the trail is not fully completed, the 1,300-mile, 9/11 National Memorial Trail is currently connected by off-road and multi-use trails. The not-for-profit 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance relies on financial support from donors and grants to further develop and maintain the 9/11 National Memorial Trail.
“The virtual 9/11 Trail Challenge was a labor of love for me. I love being outdoors and also love being able to support and commemorate an important day for our country,” said Walker. “I grew up in the Smoky Mountains and hiking has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
Recent photos from the ongoing construction in Somerset County, PA
Construction Update: Somerset County
Somerset County, in partnership with the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance and other stakeholders, is nearing completion of the first 1.5miles of the 20 mile connection between the Great Allegheny Passage and the Flight 93 National Memorial, the first purpose built section of the September 11th National Memorial Trail (9-11 NMT). The new trail construction features an on-road segment that will be completed next spring accompanied by a section of off-road, new trail construction.
Local and regional officials and funders celebrate at the September 4 groundbreaking at the Garrett trailhead.
Digging in: Celebrating the beginnings of new trail in Somerset County, PA
The skies cleared on Friday, September 4, 2020 just in time for a festive celebration of the new trail segment to be built in Somerset County, PA, beginning at the Garrett trailhead of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, leading through the borough of Garrett, and onto a former rail bed. Later phases of construction will take the trail north through Berlin to the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance is pleased to welcome three new faces — a new board member and two communications staff members — to the team to support the continued growth of the 1,300-mile trail.
Deborah Borza remembers meeting David Brickley, founder of the 9/11 Trail, at an event at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Since the airline crash took the life of Deora, her 20-year-old daughter, Borza has been working to ensure that a fitting memorial to the flight’s passengers and crew was built in southwestern Pennsylvania. She liked the sounds of Brickley’s project, creating a trail that would connect all three memorials.
“I was interested,” she remembers, “because I want the other two memorials to have a connection to the Flight 93 site.”
For 2020, in response to safety concerns posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our second annual 24-mile bike ride through beautiful Laurel Highlands region, including a loop through the grounds of the Flight 93 National Memorial, will become a virtual ride.
All registrants will receive a Tour de Trail t-shirt, map of the route, and link to video footage of the route, including recent ceremonies at the memorial site honoring Flight 93 passengers and crew. Participants can ride the route themselves, at a convenient day and time of your choosing, or bike 24 miles closer to home.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cancel events and travel plans, the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance has launched a challenge to encourage walkers, runners, and cyclists to tour the 9/11 Trail virtually while staying close to home.
For motivation, the Alliance will send encouraging messages to all who register for the challenge and reward participants with commemorative swag as they reach each of the three memorials on the 1,300-mile route.
Like all of you, the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance staff and board sincerely hope this health emergency will pass swiftly and with minimal harm and disruption. To that end, we are following the advice of public health authorities and taking proactive steps to stymie the advancement of COVID-19 in our community. That includes avoiding large group gatherings, minimizing in-person contact and social separation suggestions. We believe this is an important moment for our community to show concern, compassion, and prudence by avoiding measures that could put any one of us at risk.
By David Hurst, Tribune-Democrat
New activity through the region’s recreations spaces, its rivers — and even two of its busiest roads — provides reason for optimism across the Johnstown region in 2020, area leaders said. While the past year has brought progress on routes 219 and 22, the region’s growing network of hiking and biking trails is expected to continue to make headlines in the year ahead across the region.