On the trail of 10,500 miles of fun
It’s always great to celebrate summer with a faraway vacation, but it can be just as fun to take a break close to home. If you’re looking for family fun, hit the trail! There are more than 400 trails across Pennsylvania to explore by hiking or biking.
Take a hike
In 2001, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources set out to create a trail in every community throughout the state. Now, more than ten years later, almost half of Pennsylvania’s municipalities have one or more trails within their boundaries.
DCNR estimates that more than 60 miles of new trails were constructed in Pennsylvania in 2011, through 86 trail projects, representing more than $29 million in state and local grant funds under the DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program.
A click away
You can find a trail with just a few clicks of a computer mouse at www.ExplorePAtrails.com.
ExplorePAtrails.com is a one-stop trails website provided by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
DCNR, in partnership with Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Keystone Trails Association and more than a thousand trail stewards and volunteers, have helped power ExplorePAtrails.com by uploading photos, descriptions, maps and events for sharing with others about the state’s rich network of trails.
Launched two and a half years ago with 5,500 miles and 191 trails, the website today contains 10,552 miles and 446 trails, and those numbers are growing, due to the participation of 1,100 “reporters” who have voluntarily registered with the site and added content such as new trails, trail updates, reviews, photos and calendar events. “The hope is that every land and water trail in Pennsylvania will find its way onto the site,” said Cindy Dunn, DCNR deputy secretary.
All the dirt
The site displays more than 900 trail photos and more than 500 trail maps, descriptions and reviews. Users can query lists of trails by county or they can launch a statewide map and zoom in for a closer view.
Families can request trails of specified lengths or distances from home. For each trail, users will find a printable map that shows parking areas and other details. Click on a destination for detailed driving directions. For GPS users, the maps display longitude and latitude coordinates. Zoom in or out on the maps, and users can choose from road maps, satellite views, or topographic images that display the trails’ terrain.
Trail users who own smart phones can access ExplorePAtrails.com while on the go. More than 4,000 visits to the site last year were made by people using mobile phones and tablets.
To find out more about how to participate or to locate trails in your area, visit and register online at www.ExplorePAtrails.com.
Kent Taylor is a GIS Specialist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation in Harrisburg.