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By Brian Greene, Trail Programs Manager
In 2017, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor started a new program, called D&L Trail Towns and worked with local communities to create a trail-friendly atmosphere. We know that all trails, especially the D&L Trail, provide multiple benefits to residents and visitors. From improving people’s health to preserving history to protecting the environment to energizing local economies, trails are critical infrastructure that improve a local community’s quality of life. But for these benefits to blossom to their fullest potential, their needs to be more than just a trail.
Local and out of town trail users expect there to be more than just a path in the woods. Trail users want amenities like bathrooms, picnic tables, and benches at a trailhead. They need proper signage and information about the local trails, environment, and history to connect with the area. And after a long day on the trail nothing is better than a great place to get a meal and nearby lodging to rest up for more adventures. As you can see, building the trail is only the first step in creating a trail-friendly community.
This is why the D&L is working with local communities to identify ways to create trail friendly atmospheres in their towns. Currently, Lehighton, Riegelsville, Slatington, and Walnutport have participated in the process that includes data collection and public meetings to gather ideas. What each town needs is different, so there are not one size fits all solutions. It is fun to see what the different ideas are. In Slatington, they have worked on beautification of the trailhead, new bike racks, and opening a visitor’s center on the weekend. Riegelsville is creating a new trailhead in their town and hosting events to connect visitors to local restaurants. And Walnutport is working to improve their signage to better connect and direct trail users.
As the D&L continues to work with more local communities and businesses we hope that you come and explore the great work that these towns are doing to create a trail friendly atmosphere!