The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) joined the Friends of Delaware Canal last month in New Hope to celebrate the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath as Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year.
“We are delighted to honor this diverse, historic trail as Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year and are pleased to celebrate the multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities it provides,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “This trail and the Delaware Canal corridor continue to be a destination for so many people looking to spend time outdoors. I am hopeful that even more people become aware of this wonderful area and seek out this gem of a trail because of today’s celebration.”
“The Friends of Delaware Canal are proud to celebrate Delaware Canal Towpath as Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year,” said Michael Ginder, executive director of the Friends of Delaware Canal, the award recipient. “The towpath has much to offer with a rich history and has seen an increase in visitors the past couple of years as more and more individuals spend time outdoors. The Trail of the Year recognition will allow the Friends to build on that increased visitor momentum as well as bolster the work we do to ensure the towpath trail is usable over its entire length.”
The 58.9-mile Delaware Canal State Park Towpath passes through 18 municipalities in Bucks and Northampton counties. The towpath, where the mules once trod pulling canal boats along the Delaware Canal, provides a level trail for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding. Boat accesses allow for canoeing and kayaking. In winter, ice skating and cross-country skiing are also popular along the towpath and canal.
The Friends of the Delaware Canal works in partnership with Delaware Canal State Park, which manages the canal and towpath. The Friends group assists with development and maintenance along the towpath, as well as helping to raise funds and awareness for the canal and towpath.
The friends group uses the Canal Tenders volunteer program to watch over and care for sections of the towpath, and they also initiated a Canal Action Team to work on larger maintenance projects along the trail. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Friends of the Delaware Canal.
DCNR encourages residents to get outside and spend time on a trail to help improve health and wellness. ExplorePaTrails offers details on more than 650 trails covering more than 12,000 miles in Pennsylvania.
The Towpath is part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, which is 165 miles long and traverses five counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The Towpath is also in the Lehigh Valley Greenways and Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates the Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for trails across the state, and to raise public awareness about the value of the Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network. Pennsylvania continues its tradition of being a leader in trail development by providing its citizens and visitors with an amazing network of trails. DCNR has established a goal to have a trail within 10 minutes of all Pennsylvanians in an effort to close the gaps in this network and bring trails closer to everyone.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Trails Strategic Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles for all. 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.