New portion of Big Woods Trail completed
Newest portion of Big Woods Trail open to the public
Officials had a warm welcome ready for the newest portion of the Big Woods Trail with a ribbon-cutting event.
ELVERSON >> Despite the dreary weather, officials had a warm welcome ready for the newest portion of the Big Woods Trail Friday.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, along with Bureau of State Parks officials, opened the newest addition to the Big Woods Trail Friday, completing another portion of what is expected to ultimately cover a 13-mile stretch and connect to major natural features in the area.
The new 2-mile portion of the trail features an ADA accessible trail, a parking area and passes through active and former agricultural lands. It additionally offers scenic views of the Schuylkill Highlands at the summit of a large hill.
“This is significant because it’s a critical part of the connec-
tor to the Thun Trail, which is part of the Schuylkill River Trail, all the way into French Creek State Park,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “The connector takes us a couple miles toward the destination of the park. We have some more work to do to bring it all the way into French Creek State Park but this couple miles is significant.”
Following a few words from dignitaries in attendance, the ribbon was cut, officially dedicating the trail on the grounds of the state park.
“I think when the system is all done, I think that Hopewell Big Woods and the Schuylkill Highlands will become a real destination for people visiting, for people from the Philadelphia area, for people in the region. It will generate a lot of economic development and help with health and well-being and add to the quality of life in the region,” said Dunn.
Dunn added that the “long-term strategy for trail development in Pennsylvania is to have a trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvanian.”
The newest portion of the Big Woods Trail was not developed without its obstacles, however. Dunn explained that a lot is involved with developing these types of trails. After first successfully acquiring the land, the planning of the trail route then had to take place and then finally the construction.
“We want to especially thanks the Natural Lands Trust which emerged as a vital partner in this effort, assisting DCNR in acquiring the properties to make the physical connection to French Creek State Park and the Schuylkill River Trail,” Dunn said.
Total, the newest phase of the trail cost $1.3 million, which was acquired through Keystone funding and private funding from the William Penn Foundation and the Delaware Regional Planning Commission.
“The trail promotes heritage tourism, which each year contributes $590 million to the region’s economy and sustains more than 6,000 jobs. We want to see connections like this made up and down the Schuylkill River, as we reconnect residents and visitors to rivers, trails and historic sites,” said Dunn. “I really enjoy it. It’s a lovely place to pedal along the river, see the birds, it’s just a great asset.”
The ribbon-cutting for the French Creek State Park phase of the Big Woods Trail took place on Friday near the Berks-Chester county line. Bureau of State Parks officials and many others attended the opening.
Groups crowded around the newly opened portion of the Big Woods Trail following the ribbon-cutting Friday morning.
State Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26, speaks at the opening of the French Creek State Park section of the Big Woods Trail Friday.