Linking two state parks and threading through forestlands in three counties, Standing Stone Trail in central Pennsylvania today was honored by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other state officials for attaining the statewide honor of 2016 Trail of the Year.
“Almost two dozen trails were nominated during the third year of this very special designation,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn told listeners gathered at Greenwood Furnace State Park in Huntingdon County. “All of these trails nominated stand as testament to the incredibly vast and varied walking and hiking opportunities we are so fortunate to find in Pennsylvania.
“Deservedly so, Standing Stone is singled out today for distinction in 2016 because of its quality, benefits to the region, tremendous dedicated volunteer network, and a multitude of strong partnerships.”
The trail designation is coordinated by the DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee to elevate public awareness of the thousands of miles of trails available for public enjoyment in Pennsylvania. In honor of the annual achievement, the committee and DCNR produce a yearly poster and distributes it statewide.
“Trace the path of this year’s trail of distinction and you are led to so much – two state parks, two state forests, two natural areas, a National Historical district, and four state game land tracts -- they’re all there and easily reachable on the Standing Stone Trail,” said Dunn, an avid hiker. “This trail is not unlike a necklace, linking so many natural jewels in this section of the state.”
Stretching 84 miles through Fulton, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties, the trail traverses central Pennsylvania ridges and valleys from Cowans Gap State Park in the south, to Rothrock State Forest’s Detweiler Natural Area and the Mid State Trail in the north. It links to Greenwood Furnace State Park.
“Our club membership is small, yet in the three decades since the trail’s inception, our diligent members have carved out nearly 84 miles of premier footpath,” said Standing Stone Trail Club President James Garthe. “I’ve been involved with numerous organizations over the years, yet I have never witnessed such a vibrant, energetic and fun-loving group of hikers and outdoors enthusiasts.”
Standing Stone Trail is part of the 1,600-mile Great Eastern Trail, which starts at Flagg Mountain, Ala., extends to the Finger Lakes Trail in New York. More than 80 percent of the trail traverses state owned forest and Game Commission game lands.
There is one Adirondack-style shelter on the trail, which links to Greenwood Furnace State Park and passes through designated Trail Towns of Three Springs and Mapleton.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee includes different types of trail users, builders and advocates, and people with disabilities.
The committee’s responsibilities are to advise DCNR on the use of trail funding in Pennsylvania; review and rank trail project applications; and present an annual report to the secretary on trail activities.
For more information about the designation, visit the 2016 Trail of the Year webpage.For hiking activities throughout Pennsylvania, visit the www.explorePAtrails.com website. Featured on the site are almost 500 trails covering more than 11,000 miles in Pennsylvania.