In March of 2020 when COVID-19 took over our everyday world, keeping people at home, closing gyms and severely limiting indoor gatherings, many headed outdoors to trails for exercise and a pleasant distraction.
Since then, the habits of biking, hiking and running/walking on Pennsylvania’s extensive trail network have sustained popularity and grown.
A report by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council found that “in both rural and urban areas, people got outside in unprecedented numbers” during the spring and summer months at the start of the pandemic, and the trend continued as people discovered the wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania boasts 2.2 million acres of forestland; 140 state and national parks; part of the Appalachian Trail, and 2,500 lakes.
The southeast region boasts extensive trail networks, including the Schuylkill River Trail, Perkiomen Trail, and Chester Valley Trail, just to name a few. The region is home to French Creek State Park, Valley Forge National Park, Blue Marsh Lake, Marsh Creek Lake, and historic sites at Brandywine Battlefield, Hopewell Furnace, Conrad Weiser, Daniel Boone Homestead and many more.
The increased usage of the past 15 months has renewed a focus of the sites and trails of the region as assets to be preserved and improved.
Trails and greenways are good for people and good for communities. Studies have shown the benefits:
- making communities better places to live by preserving and creating open spaces;
- encouraging physical fitness and healthy lifestyles;
- creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation and non-motorized transportation;
- strengthening local economies;
- protecting the environment, and
- preserving culturally and historically valuable areas.
And recognizing those benefits has sparked several local projects that advance the goals of safe and accessible recreation.