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further north from Johnson Street in Fairview Township to the Mountain Top Trailhead near the Mountain Top Fire Co. and then from there through Earth Conservancy land to Wilkes-Barre. After various offshoots are completed, the D&L Trail will then connect to the Back Mountain and Levee System Trail and Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail systems. It is now approximately 90% completed.
Mountaintop resident Tom Sowinski had nothing but good things to say about the trail. He and his daughter Rachel, who uses the path for track conditioning, encountered a very crowded trail over the weekend.
“I thought it was great,” says Sowinski. “There were so many people using it, mostly recreational bike riders. It is clean, well done, well marked and most of it is tree covered. It has a nice, easy grade.”
The railroad bed was purchased for trail development by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor in 2001 using Federal Transportation Enhancement Funding. Permanent ownership of the trailhead and connector trail was recently turned over to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, but the trail itself is owned by the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association and will be maintained by the Mountain Top Trails Council. The Crestwood High School Key Club has also been instrumental with the new trail by raising funds to purchase maintenance tools and supplies for volunteers, and planning amenities along the trail.
According to Dale Hildebrand of the Wright Twp. EAC, the intent of Heritage Corridors is to promote economic development through tourism, and these railways are very common throughout the country. As people travel along these trails, they bring outside dollars to the community through business and real estate development, and people living in the area reap the benefits of improved health and quality of life.
Hildebrand has also seen quite a few people using the trail. Many park at the trailhead and bike the 8 miles to white haven for lunch, and then return. Dale cautions first timers about the 2% upgrade on the way back, however, and recommends that folks try out the 4 mile route to Moosehead Lake first.
The trail nearly completes the northern most 30 miles from White Haven to the Wilkes-Barre section, with only one small section in Glenn Summit missing, and another from the Mountaintop Hose Company to Wilkes-Barre. Hildebrand says they are currently looking into engineering reports for that section. He says it is not uncommon for trails such as this one to be built in large sections and then gradually filled in over time. Encroaching development on old railways forces organizations in many instances to approach each home and business owner individually.
But for now, residents just seem glad to have the new section up and operational.
“Everybody seems to really enjoy it,” relates Sowinski. “It’s a good thing for Mountaintop, a nice, safe place to go and get a little exercise. We need more stuff like that around here.”
For further information about
the D&L Trail, visit www.delawareandlehigh.org