Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Thursday announced the Montour Trail in Allegheny and Washington counties has been named the state's 2017 Trail of the Year.
"With a history of support dating back to the late 1980s, and annual user numbers surpassing 400,000, the Montour Trail deserves to be singled out in this fourth year of very special recognition," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Quality, benefits to the region, and a strong volunteer network and multitude of partnerships qualify Montour for this honor."
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 achievement, the committee and DCNR will work to produce a poster for statewide distribution and plan a public celebration.
"Length, variety of terrain, and a rich history all emerge to show why the Montour Trail has helped Pennsylvania emerge as a national leader in the rail-trail concept," Dunn said.
The 63-mile Montour Trail system occupies the right of way of the former Montour Railroad and Peters Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Coraopolis and Clairton in suburban Pittsburgh, making it one of the nation's longest non-motorized suburban rail-trails.
The trail connects with Pittsburgh International Airport, the Panhandle Trail, and the Great Allegheny Passage that stretches over 330 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
The Montour Trail Council was created in 1989 to oversee the construction, maintenance, and operation of the Montour Trail. With over 400,000 annual users, the all-volunteer organization relies on volunteers, friends' groups, and community organizations to keep the trail in excellent condition.
"The Montour Trail is deeply honored to be named Trail of the Year," said Ned Williams, council president. "The volunteers have worked tirelessly, for many years, to turn this old rail line into the recreational jewel that it is today. We keep making it better, so that even more people will be drawn outdoors to stroll or travel the trail, and enjoy its striking beauty."
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles.
The 20-member DCNR-appointed committee represents both motorized and non-motorized trail users and advises the Commonwealth on the use of state and federal trail funding.
Visit the Montour Trail website for more information and plenty of photos from the trail in all seasons of the year.
For more information about the designation, visit the Explore PA Trails website and choose the 2017 Trail of the Year slide. More than 600 trails covering almost 12,000 miles in Pennsylvania are featured on the site.
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