On May 24, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Mid State Trail Association members and other hiking enthusiasts in celebrating the designation of the Mid State Trail as Pennsylvania’s 2019 Trail of the Year.
The Mid State Trail is Pennsylvania’s longest trail. Its 327 miles traverse some of Pennsylvania’s most remote and scenic areas, and stretch from the Maryland to New York borders.
“Drawn by the natural beauty that captures the essence of Pennsylvania’s wild places, thousands of hiking enthusiasts take to the Mid State each year, regardless of the season,” Dunn told trail supporters gathered at Raymond B. Winter State Park. “In their quest for everything from gentle rail-trail travel to rigorous rocky climbs, these travelers are an economic boon to the many small business communities near the trail.”
Improved by DCNR investments totaling almost $1.5 million, the trail saw a major three-phase project completed in 2015 on the Union-Centre county line. Work included: rehabilitation work on an old railroad bridge spanning Penns Creek; lining of the Poe Paddy Tunnel; and re-surfacing of the trail approaching both the bridge and tunnel. Earlier, $178,800 financed Yellow Creek Bridge construction in Bedford County.
Hiking enthusiasts say the Mid State Trail’s sheer length offers more challenges to hikers than any other trail in the state. Sometimes-difficult hiking takes travelers through isolated forests and past historic sites, vistas, waterfalls, and natural springs.
“As an all-volunteer organization, we rely upon and value the cooperation and partnership we get from the DCNR professionals at its Bureau of State Parks and Bureau of Forestry,” said Mid State Trail Association President Ed Lawrence. “Our goal is to maintain the Mid State Trail as a sustainable recreational resource for the entire community, one that provides a natural pathway today and into the future.”
Pennsylvania is a leader in trail development, providing its citizens and visitors with more than 12,000 miles of trails across the commonwealth, from gentle pathways threading through miles of preserved greenways, to remote, rugged trails scaling the state’s mountains.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates a Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for both large and small trails, and raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s trail network.
The Mid State Trail was created to foster simple, natural experiences that foster a greater respect for nature and a will to protect for future generations. Largely on public land, the trail passes through eight state parks; five state forests; eight state forest Natural Areas; four state forest Wild Areas; four state forest picnic areas; two Scout camps and one roadside rest.
The Mid State Trail is divided into four distinct regions. Traveling from the south, hikers pass through the Everett Region, State College Region, Woolrich Region, and Tioga Region. The trail’s main route, marked by rectangular, orange blazes, also features several long side trails.
The Mid State Trail Association was formed in 1982 to guide the Mid State Trail’s continued growth and protect its future. The association engages many local volunteers who construct and maintain only foot paths.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles. The 20-member DCNR-appointed committee represents both motorized and non-motorized trail users and advises the commonwealth on use of state and federal trail funding.