Brian Greene, Trail Programs Manager and Data Scientist
One of the best features of the D&L Trail is the length of the trail. The D&L connects to a variety of towns, cities, and regions with unique recreation opportunities. This trail makes it possible to journey many places using a safe route that traces the footsteps of history. More and more people are taking advantage of this and exploring the trail on multi-day bike rides. In August, the D&L sponsored a group of youth cyclists from Philadelphia on a 5-day tour of the D&L Trail.
One of our partner organizations, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, organized the ride. Each summer they take a group of youth on a multi-day trip. They prefer to use trails that are separate from roads because it makes for a safer trip and easier navigation. In the past, they had done trips on the Greater Alleghany Passage and C&O Canal, but those involved long rides just to get there. This year, we worked together to bring them to our trail, which starts just outside of Philadelphia. Over five days, this group of high school age youth traveled over 150 miles on the D&L Trail from Bristol to Allentown and back. Along the way, they camped, visited Community Bike Works, and tubed in the Delaware River.
On one of their days, I got to ride a section of the trail with them and host them at the National Canal Museum. It was amazing to tell them the stories about how the D&L is reinventing the former canal towpaths and railroads into multi-use trails. Along the trail, we stopped at a lock and explained how they worked. Afterward, they got a private tour of the National Canal Museum. Here, they engaged with exhibits about the technology that fueled the industrial revolution.
“A highlight for me was being able to ride down and meet the mules and then get our very own private tour of the canal museum,” said Mya, youth rider from Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. “I had never seen a mule in person before and it was really cool being the only people in the museum!”
After biking over 100 miles on the trail, I could see them making the connection to the past. The group grasped that these trails are still an important (and fun!) transportation network. It was great to be a part of this. In the future, we hope to have more groups like this use the D&L Trail to explore history, nature, and communities.