UNION DALE– Despite recent rollercoaster-like weather, Spring has officially arrived. And with warmer sunny days sure to come along in the not-too-distant future, the Rail-Trail Council (R-TC) of NEPA has announced its late-Spring and early-Summer events.

For all noted special events, requisite costs are noted and trail enthusiasts are reminded to wear appropriate clothing and comfortable footwear, and they should bring bottled water and insect spray. General use of the trails is always free of charge, and all who use the trails are asked to observe and courteously respect posted trail signage.

Sunday May 19th/Celebrate the Connection Bike Ride – The newly resurfaced trail from Ararat to the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail in Carbondale has been completed. And while limited bike-trailering and rider-bussing accommodations were quickly sold out to 110 participants, late-comers are still invited to share the connection event during a buffet lunch ($15pp) at the Hotel Anthracite on Main Street, Carbondale. Live blue grass entertainment during the ‘healthy buffet’ is included and will be by local musician, Jim Carro & Friends. For lunch, RSVP trails@nep.net, or call 570-679-9300 for additional information.

Saturday June 15th/Yoga Hike – Reprising another favorite trail event, Tiffany Debish of
Studio Be. in Forest City will offer her ever-popular Yoga Hike ($5 donation). Beginning at 9:00am from Frank’s Place (57 Jefferson St., Simpson), hikers will engage in some basic Yoga practices, including breathing techniques and simple stretches. The approximately two-hour hike northward and back will take participants along the Lackawanna River and to several pretty spots where Debish will stop for a bit to share and instruct on various Yoga practices.

Other Calendar Dates to Note (details to be announced)–August 3rd, Forest City Trail Town Festival, including the Coal Cracker Race, Bike Ride, and an historical bus tour of the trail; September 8th, 11th Annual D&H Half-Marathon and 5K from Forest City; September 18th, Forest City Trail Town Mixer; September 29th, LHVA Heritage Bike Ride from Carbondale.

According to R-TC’s Executive Director, Lynn Conrad, “The long-anticipated 6.5-mile stretch of trail from Forest City to Union Dale was officially opened on May 1st. Earlier this week, we completed the requisite final inspections … everyone can now access this section and enjoy the new trail and all it offers.

“It has been a lot of work to get to this point,” she noted. “But the UGI pipeline project between these two locations has vastly improved this particular trail to make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone. The new trail surface is in place, and all that’s left to do is some shoulder and fencing work. Trail enthusiasts can check the R-TC Facebook page and updated website for additional details and information. The trail section from Forest City south to Simpson is fully open, so the total distance from our Union Dale office and trail head is about 20 miles of beautiful trail that can be enjoyed year-round.”

Conrad noted that additional trail updates include the completion of a new concrete deck on the Lanesboro Bridge in Susquehanna County. “During the early 1900’s, twin railroad bridges once carried Delaware & Hudson and Erie trains across the two separate structures. Unfortunately, flood-water damage made one bridge unrepairable, but we salvaged the other through funding from PA-DCNR,” she said. “We expect to complete the asphalt approaches to the bridge within the coming weeks.

“Beyond that, the Stevens Point Trailhead, with added trail improvement to Brandt, should go out to bid in the next few months. We’re hoping that this 1-mile section will be open before the end of this year. The Brandt-to-New York border trail section is on PennDOT’s schedule, with review of the construction documents, environmental clearance, and a trail walk scheduled in May. Then, following those bids by year-end, we expect that 5-mile section to see potential construction by next Spring.”

The R-TC is also in the process of working with an engineer to work on permitting and designing a pre-fab bridge across the Starrucca Creek in Stevens Point. “New abutments are needed here,” added Conrad, “but we’ll keep the original abutments of laid stone. We’re also working with a contractor to improve the drainage of the Endless Mountains Trail from Montross to Tiffany Corners, which will also include grading to help promote the required drainage.”

To further enhance its good works and keep trail enthusiasts up to date, the R-TC recently updated its website (www.nepatrails.org) and published a colorful new brochure. “It’s a beautifully illustrated and highly detailed two-sided brochure that features clearly marked trail routes,” said Carissa Butler, R-TC’s Program Director.

“The five-page fold-out brochure is easy to read and includes some historic information along with trip suggestions for hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, and Nature enthusiasts,” Butler said. “It’s intended to help everyone better enjoy the wide range of points of interest along the total 38 miles of former O&W and D&H railbed. If you haven’t yet checked out the trails, this new brochure is the perfect map to get you started and guide your way. Check it out!”

The R-TC’s new brochure is available from their Union Dale office, at nearby Cable’s Deli, via email at trails@nep.net, and by calling570-679-9300.