Highlands Trail Ribbon Cutting at Nockamixon State Park 

Celebrating the completion of a 3-mile segment of the Highlands Trail through the park, National Trails Day, and the 20th anniversary of the Highlands Conservation Act.

QUAKERTOWN, PA – Federal, state, local, and nonprofit partners gathered today at Nockamixon State Park to celebrate recent achievements in trails and recreation access. The ribbon cutting marked the completion of a 3-mile segment of the Highlands Trail through the park. This event also marks National Trails Day and the 20th anniversary of the Highlands Conservation Act.

“Today, we celebrated the completion of the 3-mile segment of the Highland Trail through Nockamixon State Park, a testament to our collective efforts to preserve and enhance our beautiful local natural treasures. Since joining Congress, I have fought to secure permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to protect our local treasures. And, with the invaluable support of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), we passed the Great American Outdoors Act in October 2020, which fully and permanently funded the LWCF—a historic achievement and win for our environment, economy, community, and nation. I am humbled to have worked with AMC to lead this effort. While we have achieved several milestone victories, I am excited to continue our work to further preserve our beautiful outdoors here in PA-1 and beyond,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1).

About 10 miles of the Highlands Trail exist within Nockamixon State Park. The Highlands Trail is planned to connect downtown Quakertown to Nockamixon State Park in the next phase of development.

Pennsylvania State Representative Craig Staats praised efforts by advocates and recognized the value that trails, and outdoor recreation have in our communities. “I am excited to join everyone for today’s ribbon cutting ceremony, and I am proud to continue to make investments in trails and recreation access,” said Representative Staats.    

Nockamixon State Park is a 5,286-acre park with more than 40 miles of natural surface trails, including 10 miles of mountain bike trails. The park offers picnicking, swimming, hiking, biking, disc golfing, hunting, fishing, and boating, and is maintained to support visitor enjoyment.

Daniel Mainieri, Bucks County Representative for State Senator Jarrett Coleman, PA’s 16th District spoke at the event. “It’s hard to overstate how incredibly fortunate we are to have access to such natural beauty so close to home. This new section of the Highlands Trail not only opens up more of Nockamixon State Park for easy exploration, but it also connects more of our community together in a very real way. I’m grateful for all the time and hard work that has gone into this project and congratulate everyone who helped make it possible,” said Senator Coleman.  

Obie Derr, Nockamixon State Park manager said, “Today we celebrate the power of trails to connect people to nature, recreation opportunities, and one another. Every year, Nockamixon State Park welcomes 1.2 million visitors for a wide variety of outdoor activities. Derr continues, “the Highlands Trail represents not just three new miles of hiking for park-goers, but a future in which access to recreation is increased for our neighbors in Quakertown and throughout Pennsylvania.”

2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA), which supports the conservation of natural resources. The Highlands Conservation Act grant program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The HCA authorized funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect lands with the highest conservation value in the four-state Highlands region. Since 2004, $48 million in federal funds, matched by $74 million in non-federal funds, have been used to protect over 16,000 acres of land, including 14 acres added to Nockamixon State Park in 2020.

Congratulations to all of the partners on this tremendous achievement – expanding the Highlands Trail here in the heart of the Highlands Region,” said Kyla Hastie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region Deputy Regional Director. “The Service looks forward to working with our partners to support future land protection projects here at Nockamixon and across the Highlands Region to save important wildlife habitat, conserve clean drinking water and expand opportunities for all people to get out and enjoy nature.”

The new 3-mile section of the Highlands Trail connects the Marina Visitor Center to Haycock Boat Launch. “Today is a celebration of the wonderful partnerships and networks that have come together to get the project done,” said Cait Handlin, Mid-Atlantic Trail Coordinator for the Appalachian Mountain Club. “We extend thanks to AMC’s volunteer trail crew for their work and leadership on this project, who contributed over 1,200 hours of service, to Nockamixon State Park staff and their maintenance crew, and to the many donors who contributed financially to make this project happen.”

AMC Delaware Valley Chapter Trail Crew Leader, Greg Bernet, says, “AMC volunteer trail crew was very excited to take on this project, and it’s great we can celebrate on National Trails Day. You will see the hard work that went into the building of the trail when you hike it, including features like puncheon (bog bridges) and steppingstones. But to see the real hard work, just look to your left or right as you hike and notice the thick vegetation on either side. All of it looked like that in the beginning!”

“Thank you to the Appalachian Mountain Club for prioritizing the completion of this trail and for continuing to support natural spaces in the Commonwealth,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Trails are connectors to communities and help boost local economies in so many ways. We are excited to see the positive impact this stretch of trail will have for the region.”

Governor Josh Shapiro recently launched a new brand for the Commonwealth – Pennsylvania: The Great American Getaway – and pointed to Pennsylvania’s state park system as incredible destinations for a weekend getaway. State parks are great summer destinations for swimming, boating, camping, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

The Highlands Trail crosses three of the four states in the Highlands region: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In Pennsylvania, the trail spans 13 counties and aligns with 292 miles of existing trails. The ultimate goal is a 325-mile trail. The Appalachian Mountain Club, the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Steering Committee, and various municipalities and state agencies are working together to close gaps and create safe recreational opportunities. You can learn more athttps://pahighlands.org/.

Today’s event was convened by Nockamixon State Park and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Additional attendees included: State Representative Craig Staats, Jay Rasku from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other municipal and county representatives.

About the Appalachian Mountain Club 

The Appalachian Mountain Club is the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, committed to fostering the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. Since 1876, AMC has encouraged generations to deepen their passions for the outdoors and helped protect some of the most precious natural environments in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Learn more at www.outdoors.org.