Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum provides a venue for trail organizations, managers, and supporters to network and share resources and best management practices.

In 2013 the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape (PFWCL) partnered with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley and the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association to facilitate quarterly Trail Forum meetings with trail groups. Participants included trail organizations, nonprofit groups, nature and environmental centers, land trusts and conservancies, state and federal parks, city and county parks and recreation departments, heritage areas, municipalities and local governments, and state and federal government agencies.

On May 5, 2014, the first annual Northeast Trails Symposium was held at the offices of Lackawanna Heritage Valley in Scranton, Pa. The full day symposium provided Northeastern Pennsylvania trail sponsors and supporters with a networking venue where they could share opportunities, challenges, and solutions in an informal setting. Secretary Barry Schoch of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Secretary Ellen Ferretti of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources addressed the trail groups regarding their respective agencies’ perspective on trails in Pennsylvania. In addition, several regional and local trail groups presented information on the progress of their trails.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum now meets on a quarterly basis and continues to provide trail organizations an opportunity to share their successes and challenges as well as network with their colleagues.

Forum meetings will be held quarterly at different locations throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. The various trail forum members will host a meeting at their respective trails in order to showcase them.

The first quarterly meeting of the Northeast Trail Forum was held at Callahans Café in Pittston, Pa., on Aug. 25, 2014. The local Pittston group then led a tour of the Luzerne County Recreational Trail along the Susquehanna River in Pittston.

The second meeting was held at Keystone College LaPlume, Pa., and provided an opportunity to hike the Keystone College Trails and the newly opened Countryside Conservancy’s Trolley Trail.

February 22, 2016

Quarterly Trail Forum Showcases Partnership

Hosted by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the quarterly Northeast Pennsylvania Trail Forum was held Feb. 12 at the Bear Creek Reserve, just southwest of Wilkes-Barre.

Every four months the Trail Forum meets at a new location in upstate Pennsylvania to discuss issues, share insights, and learn from the various attendees. The day consists of three parts: hiking, a networking lunch, and project updates. This format allows for the relatively large group (around 40 attendees) a variety of networking opportunities throughout the day. The Trail Forum is made possible by PEC’s Northeast office, along with partners such as the North Pocono Trails Association, the Anthracite Scenic Trail Association, and the Lackawanna Heritage Valley.

NEPA Trail Forum Meeting 2 Feb. 2016

Each Northeast Pennsylvania Trail Forum includes a hike at the end of each day.

The Trail Forum differs from other coalitions I’ve been a part of in large part because of its unique structure. Most of us think of meetings as action-oriented affairs where we each leave with concrete tasks to do next – and generally this is a good thing. But the Trail Forum is about bringing people together to learn from others experiences. While there may be a key speaker, there is no agenda. A roundtable discussion of project updates and questions for the audience serves that purpose.

The Trail Forum is a case study in how to bring leaders (both professional and volunteers) together in a way that meets their needs and improves their work. Thus, the simplicity of bringing people together who do similar work and share similar problems has proven to be an effective way to align the multitude of groups who are geographically distant but share complementary work.

PEC has worked regionally in southeast and Western Pennsylvania to bring together trail networks and create a highway-like system of trails known as the Industrial Heartlands Trail Coalition to the west and The Circuit Trails to the east.

Along with Frank Maguire, PEC Program Director for Trails & Recreation, Tony Spagnoli (PEC Program Manager for Trails & Greenways) will be working on the beginning of a similar process in Northeast Pennsylvania. Our first step is to define the major gaps between the trails in the northeast and work with the existing trail builders to prioritize and map those gaps. Eventually, with close collaboration with the attendees at Friday’s meeting, we may create a trail system similar to those underway in western and Southeast Pennsylvania.

PEC has always considered itself a “big tent organization,” and nowhere was that more visible than at the North East Trails Forum meeting. The meetings continue to show the importance of being a conduit to bring people and organizations together and empower them to learn and share collectively.

September 1, 2015

Howland Preserve Hosts Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum

Thirty four individuals attended the Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum quarterly meeting at the Howland Preserve in Tunkhannock, Pa., on Aug. 14, 2015. The meeting was an opportunity for the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) and North Branch Land Trust (NBLT) to highlight the North Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail and the Howland Preserve. The intent of these forums is to provide a venue for trail organizations, managers, and supporters alike to network and share resources and best management practices.


Participants gathered at the Howland Preserve in Tunkahannock, Pa., for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum.

The meeting was held in a historic barn on the Howland Preserve. This rustic and charming venue set the tone for the day that we were going to have fun! After a delicious breakfast (provided by our hosts), we began the meeting with a round of introductions followed by brief presentations from EMHR and North Branch Land Trust. We then began the roundtable updates from our trail groups.

The discussion was highlighted by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley’s application for a TIGER Discretionary Grant for $15 million to complete major trail gaps, connect to the Steamtown National Historic Site and the downtown Scranton intermodal center (under construction), and to create bike lanes in the city of Scranton. Additionally, the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association noted that is working on the engineering design for a loop trail portion of the Back Mountain Trail.

The Rail-Trail Council of Northeast Pennsylvania noted that it held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for three new bridges along the D&H rail trail and that 10 miles of the trail are improved and resurfaced with plans to continue another seven miles north.

PEC also announced that is beginning a Northeast Trails Initiative to conduct a connectivity analysis for the trail network in Northeastern Pennsylvania, essentially a gap analysis using GoToTrails.

NEPA instagram photo

After the meeting, there was an opportunity to paddle the North Branch of the Susquehanna River.

After our meeting we had an opportunity to network while enjoying some pizza and homemade cookies. After lunch we made our way down to the river to get ready for our guided kayak tour of the North Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail. We were assigned kayaks, graciously provided at a steeply discounted rate by Endless Mountains Outfitters. After a brief safety talk and kayak instructional lesson from David Buck, we went out on the river for our five-mile paddle to Tunkhannock. We could not have asked for a more beautiful and sunny day to be out on the river while getting some exercise and learning about this valuable recreational and environmental resource right in our backyard!

The North Branch of the Susquehanna River is a designated National Recreation Trail and EMHR serves as water trail manager for the trail. Anyone interested in the water trail can obtain a comprehensive trail map and guide at various venues including EMHR and EMO and can find orientation and safety signage at public access points along the river.  This stretch of the river is characterized by rolling meadows, forests, and crop land, set in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania.

The next meeting will highlight the Back Mountain Trail and our host will be the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association. More details will be available soon.

PEC would like to thank the sponsors of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Trails Forum. Without them the meetings would not be possible
2015 Planning Committee
  • Janet Sweeney, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
  • Stephanie Milewski, RLA, Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area
  • Richard N. Cochrane, PE, Anthracite Scenic Trail Association
Trails Patron
  • Barry Isett & Associates, Inc.
  • JHA Companies
  • Mctish, Kunkle & Associates
  • Pioneer Construction
  • Reilly Associates
  • Strauss and Associates/Planners
Friends of the Trails
  • ESC Design, Inc.
  • Lackawanna County Convention/Visitors Bureau
  • Linde Corporation
  • Luzerne County Convention/Visitors Bureau
Trails Supporter
  • CECO Associates, Inc.
  • HAAS Landscape Architects
  • Pennoni Associates, Inc.
  • Traffic Planning and Design, Inc.

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