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Last winter, Delaware & Lehigh National Historic Corridor (D&L) was able to purchase 24 pairs of snowshoes to use for public events and to be loaned to the public in Hugh Moore Park during business hours with enough snow cover. The snowshoes are thanks to a 2016 Get Outdoors PA Mini-Grant through the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
D&L provided the snowshoes as part of its collaboration with St. Luke’s University Health Network for the Get Your Tail on the Trail program, a project that aims to provide local residents with opportunities to practice healthy living habits through outdoor recreation on the D&L Trail and surrounding trails. St. Luke’s provided matching funding for this grant, making its success a cooperative partnership.
The goal of this project was to provide new trail opportunities and further expand Get Your Tail on the Trail into the winter months, when snow accumulation makes typical trail uses less feasible. By providing access to snowshoes, the D&L hoped to increase winter outdoor exercise, as well as provide residents with an opportunity to learn a new recreational activity without the prohibitive cost of purchasing or renting equipment themselves.
24 pairs of snowshoes in various sizes were purchased and made available for the 2017 winter season. Throughout this time, various members of the public and D&L staff were able to utilize the snowshoes during the very limited periods of adequate snow cover by signing a loaner agreement at the D&L Offices in Hugh Moore Park, Easton.
Public events to make use of the snowshoes were also held optimistically hoping for enough snow. Two Meet-Up events were held in January and February in collaboration with L.L. Bean and Delaware Canal State Park. Though snowshoeing was not available due to lack of adequate snow cover, winter hikes were still held at these times, fulfilling the goal of getting local residents to engage in outdoor activity during the winter. In addition, D&L’s Get Your Tail on the Trail Winter Challenge Event attracted over a dozen participants who were able to utilize the D&L Trail: National Canal Museum Spur, while spreading the word about the availability of snowshoes for loan. A D&L Members Only snowshoeing event was scheduled and advertised but was unfortunately canceled due to lack of snow. In between these events, snowshoes were advertised as available for loan during D&L office business hours.
While many scheduled events did not result in adequate snow cover for snowshoe use, the availability of this option attracted participants to the trail during the winter, something they may have not otherwise considered an option. Because snowshoes will be available every winter, advertising these events helps increase awareness of the equipment for future winters that may be more weather-appropriate. This project also helped introduce novices to a new sport that could foster a life-long interest.
The D&L Snowshoeing project utilized mini-grant funds in order to promote Get Outdoors PA’s goals of inspiring health living and connecting people with the outdoors, encouraging physical activity and encouraging private-public partnerships. This program will continue to support these goals for years to come.
Let’s hope for better snow this winter and lots of chances for the public to enjoy snowshoeing! Keep an eye on the D&L Event Listing to know when snowshoes will be available.