KTA was honored to be invited to the announcement of three new state parks for Pennsylvania. Presiding at the announcement were Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, PA DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, PA State Representative Stan Saylor and Philip Wenger, President of Lancaster Conservancy.
The announcement was held at the site of one of the new parks, Susquehanna Riverlands State Park, located along the west shore of the Susquehanna River in Hellam Township, York County. The other two new parks are Vosburg Neck State Park, along the north branch of the Susquehanna River in Wyoming County; and Big Elk Creek State Park, in southern Chester County.
“Our beautiful state parks are among the finest in the nation,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’m proud to have secured funding in my final budget to make this investment in our park system which will not only preserve invaluable natural resources and habitats for wildlife but provide in-demand access for Pennsylvanians to enjoy the beauty of nature and recreational opportunities.”
“Each new park site is unique in its value to a great system,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “All of the new parks are steeped in cultural pre- and post-Colonial history, centered around important water resources and represent fantastic natural resource value.”
Susquehanna Riverlands in Hellam Township, York County includes 1,100 acres of natural resources. The largely wooded tract, located where Codorus Creek flows into the Susquehanna River, protects critical water and forest resources. The land was acquired with assistance from the Lancaster Conservancy and is adjacent to its Hellam Hills and Wizard Ranch nature preserves. Combined, they protect the last large wooded area along the Susquehanna River between the cities of Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster.
Vosburg Neck is 669 acres being acquired with the assistance of the North Branch Land Trust. The park will offer scenic hiking opportunities, including a climb to an impressive westerly oriented vista, pleasant strolls along a former railroad bed, invigorating shared-use trails, and significant public access for water-based recreation to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Big Elk Creek is 1,712 acres acquired through The Conservation Fund with the assistance of the Mt. Cuba Center and Chester County. It features 3.5 miles of Big Elk Creek, a tributary of the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay. Big Elk Creek was an important transportation and natural resource corridor for indigenous people for thousands of years and an important area for freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad to the North.
The new parks are expected to be fully operational and ready to be enjoyed by the end of 2026. However, the Susquehanna Riverlands State Park can be visited now, with limited facilities available at this time.
After the announcement, Governor Wolf and Secretary Dunn led the participants on a hike across the new park to a rock vista overlooking the Susquehanna River near the Shocks Mills Bridge.
Thanks to our sponsors, partners, volunteers, and participants for making the September 10th KTA Trail Challenge another fun and memorable event!
Maurice J. Forrester, Jr. passed away at home on the morning of July 5, 2022.
Maurice spent his entire adult life advocating for and documenting hiking trails, especially in his native Pennsylvania. From 1976 through 1979, he served Keystone Trail Association as President, and then as Newsletter Editor. His quarterly column, "The View From Cogan Station", appeared in KTA's newsletter from 1978 through 1992. He has also served on numerous trail advocacy boards and committees in Pennsylvania. From 1975 to 1992, he served Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy) as Treasurer, Newsletter Editor and member of the Board of Managers. He served as Chair of ATC's 1989 Biennial meeting in East Stroudsburg, PA.
Maurice was a founding director of the Appalachian Trail Museum. During that time, the Museum Board was looking for a suitable location for the Museum. Maurice led the effort to secure its home in the Old Mill building at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. He was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame in 2016.
Mr. Forrester is perhaps best known for his writings. He served as editor of several editions of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. He is co-author of A Grip On The Mane Of Life, the definitive biography of Earl Shaffer, the A.T.'s first thru-hiker. He also wrote the forward to Earl Shaffer's famous autobiography, Walking With Spring and to Larry Luxenberg's Walking The Appalachian Trail. He was the lead author of the history of KTA's first 50 years.
Maurice's obituary can be found HERE. The services will be private. There is a place there for friends and acquaintances to post condolences.
KTA is pleased to present two events in connection with our friends at Wildwood Park in Harrisburg. See below for complete information and to register.
The Appalachian Trail has been rerouted back onto the trail corridor just east of the Lehigh River between Palmerton and Walnutport, PA as of June, 2022. The 3.25 mile section was rebuilt by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps and a crew led by professional designer and trail builder Peter Jensen. The work was supervised by Bob Sickley, Regional Manager of the Trail from the Susquehanna River to the Hudson River. The map below shows the rerouted section.
The slideshow below shows the spectacular views of the Palmerton and Walnutport areas that are now visible from the A.T., as well as the excellent rock work done by the trail builders.
This reroute completes a process of remediation begun several years ago. This section of the A.T. goes through a federal Superfund site that was damaged by a zinc processing plant in Palmerton. The Trail was temporarily rerouted so that a team led by the federal Environmental Protection Agency could remediate the damaged soil and plant new trees and vegetation. More information on the remediation efforts can be found HERE.
Last October, KTA and other partners including ATC rerouted another section of the A.T., just west of the Lehigh River. The A.T. was rerouted onto the former North Trail, providing spectacular views of the Lehigh Gorge and surrounding area. More on that reroute can be found HERE.
KTA is grateful for the outstanding work performed by our volunteers and partners in making these relocations possible. We maintain a separate website for our Appalachian Trail section, which can be found here: https://ktalehighgapat.weebly.com/
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (October 25, 2021) – Keystone Trails Association announces that David “Brook” Lenker will serve as the organization’s Executive Director.
When Brook assumes the role this month, he will become the key management leader for Pennsylvania’s statewide hiking and trails organization. Brook will also lead fundraising and advocacy programs, trail club support activities and community engagement initiatives.
Brook joins the Keystone Trails Association (KTA) with decades of experience in service to the environment in Pennsylvania. He most recently served as the Executive Director of FracTracker Alliance, having grown it from a novel website to an impactful organization with eight staff and an annual budget of nearly $1 million. Previously, Brook served as Manager of Education and Outreach for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as Director of Watershed Stewardship with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and as the Recreation Program Director with Dauphin County Parks and Recreation Department. He has experience with fundraising, grant writing, personnel management, budget management, and event planning. His education includes master’s and bachelor’s degrees in geography and environmental planning from Towson University.
“I’m honored to be entrusted with the day-to-day leadership of KTA,” says Lenker. “Trails have more importance than ever before, in providing healthful outdoor recreation opportunities and cultivating a societal ethic of environmental stewardship.”
Katie Barker, president of the KTA board of directors, adds, "Brook understands the challenges and opportunities associated with caring for Pennsylvania's environment, and we are confident that his experience and passion for the outdoors will be of great value to Pennsylvania's hikers and trails."
Nature is something that is best experienced up close and personal, with as unobstructed a view as possible. Hiking up a mountain on a sunny day to see the wilderness in all its glory is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But the sun is not always our friend, especially when the trail changes. Moving between forested trails and open fields or hills can cause uncomfortable changes in light, making it difficult to not only immerse yourself in your surroundings, but also difficult to see the trail itself.
In the past, the only solution to this was to be constantly taking sunglasses on and off, or use slow photochromic lenses to help mitigate light changes. But now thanks to advances in material science, this is no longer an issue. Electrochromic auto-darkening eyewear, similar to photochromics but powered, can switch between light and dark states in seconds, making sure your eyes are always comfortable.
While not totally necessary, a set of auto-darkening sunglasses can really change your hiking experience, allowing you to see the world around you in perfect detail, without having to worry about changing light conditions.
But even among these new technologies, not all are created equal. There are competing approaches to electrochromic technology, with differing strengths and weaknesses creating different patterns of use.
The first pair of auto-darkening sunglasses using a new conducting polymer technology are FADES Sunglasses from AshChromics. Boasting a patented dual-polymer design and special voltage algorithm, FADES blow older technologies like LCDs and photochromics out of the water. A 2-second switching time, intermediate states of darkness, and all-week battery life make FADES stand out amongst the crowd.
FADES Sunglasses are available for pre-order now, and are shipping out on 4/13/20. Please visit (ashchromics.com) for more information. Keystone Trails Assoc. members can save by entering the promo code KEYSTONE at checkout.
Can you give me a quote by Shakespeare about hiking? Or one by Ben Franklin? Ah… trick questions! Of course not. “Hike” wasn’t even a word, back when people walked everywhere, every day, unless they had a horse. Taking walks in woods or rural areas for leisure pleasure didn’t begin to happen until the mid-1800s, when the Industrial Revolution began to concentrate more and more people in cities, where they worked in factories and at jobs that confined them indoors. When they began taking walks just because they wanted to be outside, exercising in nature, they called it “tramping” or “taking a tramp.” The term hike didn’t become common until it gradually entered vocabularies in the 1920s-1940s.
Silas Chamberlin, a native of rural York County, Pa., spent the summer of 2003 as a college-student summer crew worker with the Adirondack Mountain Club. This accelerated his interest in hiking and trails and eventually led to his Lehigh University Ph.D. dissertation, which became the basis of the 2016 Yale University Press book On the Trail: A History of American Hiking.
Trivia in the book was of interest to me. For example, I had long known of the Philadelphia-area Batona Hiking Club, which is a member of KTA, and of the Batona Trail in New Jersey, but I had not known that the name “Batona” was short for “Back To Nature” or that the club, formed in 1928, was one of the nation’s very first hiking clubs. I was also interested in learning that as the value of real estate pushed cemeteries out into the countryside and away from urban church yards, winding circular pathways were specifically designed – as opposed to straight grid lines – to encourage Sunday strolls among trees and grassy areas as early venues for weekend walkers.
The main thesis of the book, however, is that hiking in the 1900s evolved from a social, club-based activity to an activity more often undertaken by individuals or pairs or trios than by larger groups.
“Tramping” in the late 1800s was usually on country roads, but that was before automobiles changed tree-shaded rural lanes to paved roads. As paving took over the countryside in the following decades, hiking clubs developed, first to seek out places of quiet beauty and scenery for walkers, and eventually to identify and maintain or to build new trails in woods and mountains more remote from cities. Weekend hikes with picnics and camaraderie led to weekend backpacking and grand camping expeditions. Hikers learned from each other about trail locations and destinations and about improvising gear, often from military surplus with heavy materials, and club newsletters were sources of information.
Hiking culture began gradually to change after World War II, with change becoming more rapid in the ‘60s and ‘70s and continuing since then. Three things happened:
* First, two noteworthy individuals did what no one had envisioned or attempted before – Earl Shaffer and Emma “Grandma” Gatewood thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail alone, giving rise to the solo-backpack, test-yourself-against-the-elements idea as opposed to hiking as a social-group activity.
* Second, information became available to hikers outside of clubs and their newsletters, with Backpacker magazine starting in spring 1973, so that scoops about trail locations, tips on the latest gear, and advice from those-who-have-done-it were available to anyone, without club membership. At the same time, participation in all kinds of organizations, such as Lions, Rotary, and other civic clubs, went into decline everywhere in a less-community-minded, less interdependent, more go-it-alone citizenry. Perhaps it is the hectic pace of modern consumer lifestyle that drives this lack of connection. Clubs such as ours wince as we contemplate the future when we look at average member age in the 60s or even 70s. We wonder how to involve the next generation. Today, some 34 million Americans hike, but fewer than one percent belong to a hiking club (p. 194).
* Additionally, hiking clubs successfully advocated for state and federal park and trail projects for funds, corridor protection, construction, and maintenance. Gradually many hikers came to assume that trails are a government-given right, not something primarily built and maintained by volunteers, work in which hikers need to engage, to give back in order to KTA – Keep Trails Alive!
No solutions here, but lots worth thinking about and understanding. I recommend the book.
Keystone Trails Association