The Highlands Trail Background

The plan to develop a trail through the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Region began in the early 1990’s when the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference began a multi-year effort to establish the NY/NJ Highlands Trail. The NY/NJ Highlands covers over 160 miles from the Hudson River near Storm King Mountain to the Delaware River at Riegelsville, PA. In 2006, Appalachian Mountain Club began discussions about extending the Highlands Trail into Pennsylvania with two partner meetings at Nolde Forest and Kings Gap Environmental Education Centers. Meeting participants included county planners, state park managers, land conservancies and recreational groups. These discussions helped to gauge the potential interest for a Highlands Trail network in Pennsylvania.

Mission and Vision of the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania

The mission of the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania is to create a trail network that promotes and protects the Pennsylvania Highlands and provides communities with a physical connection to the outdoors through close-to-home recreation.

The vision of the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania is to provide an interconnected trail network that links people to where they live in the Pennsylvania Highlands and that provides recreational opportunities and which promotes the protection of natural, scenic, and historical resources of the Highlands.

The Highlands Trail Steering Committee

An outcome of the 2006 partner meetings was the formation of a region-wide Highlands Trail Steering Committee, created in 2007 with participants representing land trusts, state parks, trail organizations, and county planning commissions from across the Highlands Region in Pennsylvania.

The Highlands Trail Steering Committee developed a conceptual Highlands Trail trunk route, focused on making connections between existing trails found throughout the Pennsylvania Highlands region. This conceptual trail route was in part based on the realization that co-aligning with a network of existing trail systems in the Pennsylvania Highlands would facilitate connectivity and provide opportunities to link some of the outstanding natural and cultural features in the region, including several state parks, national historic sites and landmarks, numerous water trails, scenic vistas and revitalized downtown areas.

Appalachian Mountain Club and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference co-hosted a trail celebration in Riegelsville, PA in 2009 to mark the official beginning of efforts to develop the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania. A Highlands Trail marker was installed at the new footbridge over the Delaware Canal in Rieglesville. This event catalyzed efforts to continue the trail through Pennsylvania. A decade later, Appalachian Mountain Club continues to work with the region’s municipalities and county staff, volunteers and other project partners to plan and develop the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania.

Acknowledgments

The Highlands Trail project is made possible thanks to our members, supporters and funders, including:

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, works to close the achievement gap for low-income children, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. With assets of nearly $2 billion, the Foundation distributes approximately $80 million in grants annually. Learn more about the Foundation at www.williampennfoundation.org.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Highlands Trail projects are financed in part by grants from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and/or Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.

The M. Edward Morris Foundation

 

News

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AMC and Partners Produce Trail Feasiblity Study

Grant funding from the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape funded a trail feasiblity study in Upper Bucks County. Read More

iNaturalist Projects in the PA Highlands

Combining the value of citizen science with species identification, iNaturalist gives everyday people the ability to connect with their local environment and identify the flora and fauna they observe. Read More

National Public Lands Day 2020: More Ways to Connect to Nature

This year’s NPLD will look a little different, but it’s largely virtual format will give people in or near the Pennsylvania’s Highlands region plenty of opportunities to engage in a celebration and appreciation of our public lands, while contributing to volunteer efforts from behind their computer. Read More

Great American Outdoors Act signed into Law

On August 4th, 2020 GAOA was enacted into law! This measure provides full, permanent dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $5.9B investment over 5 years to address the maintenance backlog on public lands. Read More