D&L Trail Towns

Delaware & Lehigh - D&L Trail Towns

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) welcomes stakeholders interested in participating in the D&L Trail Town Process. As we build the over 165-mile trail system, the D&L is committed to helping communities along the D&L Trail from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol prepare for a growing influx of trail users. We want to help support communities to create a trail friendly atmosphere.

Why focus on trails?

Trails are critical resources to communities, providing multiple benefits to residents and visitors alike. They benefit the environment by providing greenways for wildlife, promoting sustainable transportation, and connecting people to nature. Trails benefit people by providing places for exercise, mental health, and outdoor recreation fun. And they benefit the economy by increasing tourism, connecting businesses, and creating jobs. All of this results in an increased quality of life for residents and vibrant towns that people want to visit.

Why is this a process?

This is a process, not a product. Our overall D&L Trail Town Process goal is to have communities invest in trails as resources that benefit residents, visitors, businesses, and the environment.  If you wanted to have a successful garden, you wouldn’t just place seeds in the ground and not do any further work. If we want to harvest the full benefits of trail friendly communities, then we need to continually plan, implement actions, and evaluate our success.  Our communities and trail user needs are continually changing, so we have to continue to go through the D&L Trail Town Process each year to track our past efforts and plan new projects.  This process is an example of the adaptive management cycle. By using this framework with our D&L Trail Town Process we are setting the expectation that towns continually engage in the process to create trail friendly towns. This adaptive management cycle allows communities to deal with changing situations. They can adjust their projects based on monitoring the results of their actions.

 The D&L Trail Towns Process

D&L Trail Town Process

So what is the D&L Trail Town Process ? When designing our process we used Trail Towns – A Guide for Communities in Pennsylvania as a resource. This was created in 2005 by the Allegheny Trail Alliance from their experiences with the Great Allegheny Passage Trail .  The Progress Fund in western Pennsylvania is a national leader with their Trail Town Program and has excellent resources and examples of past successes.

Many of the modern ideas for trail towns have grown out of the Main Street America program.  The Main Street Four Point Approach  is a community-driven, comprehensive strategy used to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts throughout the United States. Our D&L Trail Town Process takes the main street principles of organization, promotion, design, and economic vitality and focuses them on the trail, trail users, and trailheads.

Our guiding principles and the basic components:

  1.  Focus on trails and trail users!
  2. Locally led; communities decide.
  3. Your success depends on teamwork and others.
  4. Use data to track progress and goals.


D&L Trail Towns Dashboard Metrics

D&L Trail Towns Dashboard and Self Assessment General Instructions

D&L Trail Towns Trailhead Metrics Online Form

D&L Trail Towns Trailhead Metrics PDF

D&L Trail Towns Self Assessment PDF

Media Stories About D&L Trail Towns

Planning begins for Slatington area of trail – Times News – June 19, 2017

Northern Lehigh a Trail Friendly Community – BRC 13 News video October 2017

Lehighton to Become a Designated D&L Trail Town – BRC 13 News video January 2018

Nature Based Place Making – PA Downtown / DCNR Documentary Dec. 2020

Success stories of other Trail Towns

From Coal Town to Trail Town – GAP Trail in PA

If you build it, will they come? – The case for trails from western PA.

Long Live Cuyuna – Video of mountain biking community saving former mining towns in MN.