TRAIL STEWARDSHIP: The Keystone Trails Association offers a robust trail care program with volunteer opportunities available on trails across the state. Beginning in 1984, the Trail Care Program was created to lend a hand to local trail clubs wherever there was exceptional need for a trail crew. That summer an eight-week work program kicked off the first trail care season in what would become one of the Keystone Trails Association’s most successful initiatives.
Today the Keystone Trails Association offers many opportunities for volunteers to do their part in maintaining Pennsylvania’s hiking trails, including Code Orange trail care days, Trail Care weekends and weeklong Summer Trail Crews. Our trail work program contributes 4,000 volunteer hours annually, while Keystone Trails Association member clubs contribute an additional 35,000 volunteer hours each year.
- In 1973, the Tuscarora Trail in south central Pennsylvania becomes the first trail created entirely under the auspices of the Keystone Trails Association.
- The Keystone Trails Association supported the creation of the Standing Stone Trail and the Save Our Steps (SOS) campaign to preserve the 1,000 Steps. KTA pledged to raise $90,000 to purchase property on Jack's Mountain near Mt. Union. In 1999, hikers celebrated the successful completion of the SOS campaign, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission deeded the 1,000 Steps property to the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy for eventual ownership.
- With support from the Keystone Trails Association, the new 40-mile Allegheny Front Trail, originally conceived as the Lost Mountain Trail, was officially dedicated on May 20, 2000.
ADVOCACY: The Keystone Trails Association serves as the statewide voice of the hiking trail community and your trail advocate in the state capital. We have a proven track record of successfully supporting measures that protect Pennsylvania’s hiking trails.
- Primitive Camping on State Game Lands: In the past, Pennsylvania Game Commission policy prohibited camping on all State Game Lands. This policy was problematic for backpackers traversing State Game Lands, where long stretches between approved camping spots were often a serious hardship. The Keystone Trails Association developed a proposal to modify the Game Commission policy to allow regulated primitive camping along the Appalachian Trail corridor. In 1980, the legislation was finally enacted, and a policy for primitive camping was put in place. The Keystone Trails Association continues to pursue expanding this policy to long-distance hiking trails across the state.
- Trail Conflicts: The Keystone Trails Association drafted a petition for members to send to then-DCNR Secretary John Oliver over a growing concern of trail misuse by mountain bikers and equestrians. The petition urged "positive posting" of all State Forest Hiking Trails designating them as footpaths only. In the fall of 1999, DCNR and the Bureau of Forestry (BOF) announced that all 18 State Forest Hiking Trails and the state’s 3 National Scenic Trails would remain "Hiker Only," a great win for the hiking community.
- Illegal ATV Use: In 2000, the Keystone Trails Association mounted a campaign to oppose the expansion of ATV trails in State Forests. In time, the state legislature passed House Bill 154 (Act 68), which significantly improved the regulation of ATVs in the state and established a Snowmobile and ATV Advisory Committee (SAAC), which includes a designated representative from the Keystone Trails Association.
- Endangered Hiking Trails: In 2002, the Endangered Trails program emerged to direct attention toward Pennsylvania hiking trails that are threatened by development and environmental pressures.
- Sunday Hunting: The Keystone Trails Association opposes legislation to authorize Sunday Hunting in Pennsylvania, an issue that reappears in the state legislature on a regular basis. In June of 2005, and again in October of 2011, the Keystone Trails Association presented testimony before the Game & Fisheries Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives setting forth our opposition to Sunday hunting legislation.
HIKING EVENTS: The Keystone Trails Association has been hosting hiking events across the state since our inaugural fall meeting in 1956. We continue to add new hiking programs to our calendar in order to highlight Pennsylvania’s wealth of hiking opportunities and to introduce a new generation of hikers to our state’s trails.
- The annual Spring and Fall Hiking Weekends have drawn crowds of more than 200 hikers who enjoy the opportunity to explore new trails, socialize with old and new hiking friends and learn more about the work of the Keystone Trails Association. In recent years, these weekends have been held in Butler County, Chester County, Mifflin County, Forest County and the always-popular Wellsboro in Tioga County.
- The first Pennsylvania Hiking Week was held in 2002 in cooperation with DCNR and is now in its eleventh year. The annual event typically features at least 100-guided hikes – many sponsored by KTA member clubs – at locations across the state. Pennsylvania Hiking Week is also scheduled in conjunction with National Trail Days, which is the first Saturday in June.
- The Prowl the Sproul Hiking Weekend began in 2003 with support from the Bureau of Forestry and the Western Clinton Sportsmen’s Association. This hiking weekend in the Pennsylvania Wilds has grown to include a 10K trail race and a 3-day slackpacking adventure.
- In 2009, the Keystone Trails Association hosted the first Susquehanna Super Hike, a one-day trail challenge event in the lower Susquehanna Gorge. The event has grown in popularity each year as participants are enamored by the scenic views and challenging terrain on the 28.4-mile course.
- This year the Keystone Trails Association has launched a new program called the 100-Mile Trail Challenge. This challenge will recognize hikers that complete 100 miles or more on Pennsylvania hiking trails and encourages hikers to secure sponsorships for each mile of their journey.
PARTNERSHIPS: The Keystone Trails Association has a long history of partnering with like-minded organizations to support the trail community.
- In 1980, the Keystone Trails Association joined the Stony Creek Valley Coalition to successfully block a planned power project in St. Anthony's Wilderness in Dauphin County.
- The Keystone Trails Association worked closely with the trail community to establish a more acceptable route for the Appalachian Trail through the Cumberland Valley. When local opposition emerged, the Keystone Trails Association participated vigorously in the ensuing public debate. In 1986, the National Park Service finally settled on a new route for the Appalachian Trail across the Valley.
- In an effort to enhance the Keystone Trails Association’s relationship with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, the Keystone Trails Association worked to establish a Letter of Mutual Understanding between the two groups. In 2004, an agreement is finalized between the Keystone Trails Association, the Bureau of Forestry and the local trail clubs that maintain hiking trails in State Forests.
PUBLICATIONS: The Keystone Trails Association promotes Pennsylvania’s hiking trails through publications like Pennsylvania Hiking Trails, Guide to the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail maps, and other trails guides and maps, as well as our quarterly newsletter The Keystone Hiker.