In 2007, a region-wide Highlands Trail Steering Committee was established, 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 wwas developed to co-align with a network of existing trail systems in the Pennsylvania Highlands to 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 celebration in Riegelsville, PA in 2009 to mark the official start of efforts to develop the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania. A Highlands Trail marker was installed at the footbridge over the Delaware Canal in Rieglesville. 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.
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.