A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Richland Township to celebrate the opening of a new section of the Highlands Trail in upper Bucks County.
The Highlands Trail
The November 19, 2020 opening of the Upper Bucks Rail Trail completes an important section in the Highlands Trail network in Pennsylvania. In 2004, Congress passed the Highlands Conservation Act designating portions of CT, NY, NJ and PA as a nationally significant region with outstanding natural and recreational resources. In 2007, Appalachian Mountain Club convened the Highlands Trail Steering Committee and joined with partner organizations and local and county government to begin planning the 300-mile Highlands Trail across the 13 counties of the Pennsylvania Highlands Region. By 2013, Highlands Trail planning along SEPTA’s rail corridor from Coopersburg to Quakertown was underway with the Upper Bucks Rail Trail project. In February 2020, with 100% funding from Bucks County, construction of the Upper Bucks Rail Trail began, and now the trail officially opens for residents and visitors of the upper Bucks region.Currently, the Upper Bucks Rail Trail can be accessed at Veterans Park on Pumping Station Road in Quakertown and at the trailhead at Richland Fire and Rescue, 64 Shelly Road, Quakertown.
The $1.5 million project was fully funded by Bucks County’s Act 13 Marcellus Legacy fund. The Upper Bucks Rail Trail is constructed of a trail surface aggregate and includes an 800-foot long boardwalk in Springfield Township constructed of Cumaru, a Brazilian teakwood that was selected for its high durability and low maintenance. Richland and Springfield Townships will maintain the Upper Bucks Rail Trail. The Highlands Trail connects many communites, six national parks and heritage areas, several state and county parks, and many local parks and schools along its route. The Upper Bucks Rail Trail is also part of the Circuit Trails network, a growing network of trails in the greater Philaldelphia area. With a goal of 800 miles of connected trails, the Circuit seeks to connect urban, suburban and rural areas in PA and NJ with a multi-use off-road trail system.
Trails Bring Economic Development
Not only does the Upper Bucks Rail Trail provide a new recreation and transportation resource for the region, trails provide a sense of community and are an important driver of local and regional economic development. The Upper Bucks Rail Trail helped spur the Nature Based Placemaking Project, led by Quakertown Alive and funded by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center and DCNR. This project has led to new trail-related improvements in Quakertown, including new signage, bike racks, bike repair stations, and a $30,000 Walkworks grant from the PA Department of Health to develop a regional active transportation plan. Richland Township and the Borough of Quakertown are studying how to extend the trail south as into Quakertown as a rail with trail project.
Media Coverage of the Trail Opening
Upper Bucks Free Press