Project Leader: Emma Strong, firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Dates: February 12, 2012 through December 21, 2012
Well, December has all but come and gone, which means the 2012 season of the Trail Town Outreach Corps is coming to a close.
Joe Crumbley and Cara Madden, the two TTOC members who began their 10 month term of service in February have gone back to their respective homes. We would like to thank them for their commitment to service, to the SCA, and to the Trail Towns they worked in. They had quite a successful 10 months, donating 500+lbs of fresh, organic produce to the local food bank, finally getting the Adopt-A-Bioswale program rolling, creating a brochure advertising GAP SBN members and the Sustainable Supplier Guide to help members make sustainable purchasing choices, and reviving the Sustainable Trail Guide which will help volunteer trail groups with sustainable trail maintence. We wish them luck in their future endeavors.
Michelle Rapp and Rachael Christie, two TTOC members who started in June, will be with us through April 2013. They have some very exciting projects that they will be working on. You can look forward to updates about a Trail Town Art Brochure, the GAP SBN merger with Certified Trail Friendly, the new 2013 Trail Count System, and the Trail Town re-assessment results and planned projects. We look forward to another great 3 1/2 months with Rachael and Michelle.
Finally, I will be leaving TTOC this January, planning to attend graduate school next fall. I have learned so much from working with the SCA and the Trail Town Outreach Corps as a corps member and a project leader. I have learned valuable project management skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Most importantly, my work with TTOC has informed what I hope to do with the rest of my life, combining the fields of community development and local food studies. I wish all future TTOCs the best of luck! Thanks for a great two years.
As trail season is coming to a close, so are Cara and Joe's term of service with the SCA. We say farewell to them in early December as they head back to their respective homes.
Sustainable Trail Guide
The Sustainable Trail Guide is making progress, with alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and native and invasive species all included in the information.
~Michelle and Joe
Earlier in the month, the Trail Town Outreach Corps presented to Allegheny Trail Alliance about our projects over the last several months. We talked about all the events and beautification efforts in all of the towns as well as projects like the Trail Town Ice Cream and the Trail Counts on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
It’s Been a Good Year
-The year is winding down, and so too have most trail-related activities. Trail counts are now finished for the year! Over the span of six months, TTOC spent a total of 78 hours collecting data. Throughout the trail season, we ran into some obstacles that inhibited us from having accurate data, moisture being the main culprit. However, Spiders and the occasional black bear weren’t able to deter us from working on this valuable project! It will interesting to see the results of the end of the year trail use report, considering that a lot of our trail counter data in very inaccurate. Hopefully we can figure out how to make the trail counters work better so that this is something that we are able to combat next year.
Bike Shop List
-An ongoing project that I recently began working on is a bike shop directory. I have been collecting data into a spreadsheet, of bike shops in PA, as well as other surrounding states. The idea of this list is to contact all bike shops, regionally, to provide information about the GAP. Although most avid bikers in this region most likely know about the GAP, it is still important to advertise because it’s a great recreational resource!
-Another ongoing project that I recently began is the GAP SBN and Trail Town Program (TTP) blogs. I am happy to report that these blogs are up and running again, and will be released more frequently; GAP SBN once a month and TTP twice a month.
What do you get when you combine sustainability, small businesses, and the Great Allegheny Passage trail? The Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network, of course! What makes this network so special is that it focuses on sustainable solutions for small businesses.
To celebrate a year of success with the GAP SBN, the Trail Town Outreach Corps (TTOC) held a networking event for members on November 7, at the Connellsville B&B.
The event featured a presentation from Jim and Patty Bell, residential solar power consumers. Their presentation discussed solar energy, covering the mechanics behind solar photovoltaic, as well as providing examples of the benefits that solar panels provide. Many details about solar panels were covered, including purchasing costs, installation costs, electric bill costs vs. solar costs, grants, and tax incentive programs for solar power. In general, green energy can be both a controversial and unchartered realm for many residential and business owners, but the Bell’s presentation was accepted by all, opening up positive discussion for all attendees.
The GAP SBN has had many successes in 2012, ranging from business reassessments to the construction of a sustainable supplier guide. Topping the season off with the networking event allowed member businesses to appreciate this year’s achievements while also providing an arena to discuss and swap sustainable practices between individual businesses.
Here’s to 2012!
2012 has been wonderful and we are looking forward to a productive winter
Rachael and I will be staying with the Trail Town Outreach Corps until April. Projects we will be working on include the Sustainable Trail Guide, the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network blog, and the Rockwood bike loop.
The year is winding down for the Trail Town Outreach Corps as the holidays become closer.
The West Newton Walking tour has been completed. The tour will take visitors on a self-guided 1-mile walk through West Newton, and include stops at historical and significant downtown structures.
This month in Connellsville we cleaned up the armory plot, preparing it for next year’s community gardens. We removed withered produce and their roots, weeds, and turned the soil over. Then we spread wheat cover crop over the garden beds to keep the soil nutrients from being blown away or depleted with weather extremes.
In addition, we participated in the first Stakeholder meeting for the Connellsville Bicycle and Pedestrian plan which is being donated to the city by Aspect Design. This exciting project will potentially make Connellsville one of the most bicycle and pedestrian friendly town in Pennsylvania by connecting the neighborhoods with the downtown and other amenities, and giving trail users and community members alike a safe way to travel via bicycle or by foot.
~ Joe Crumbley
The Adopt-A-Bioswale project is coming along, with a total of twelve signs already made. With the assertive business mindset that the town has where they’re being implemented, when others business owners see what they’re not already partaking in they’re bound to gain interest. The project has had a lot of setbacks, but it’s been progressing exponentially in the past two months when the physical signs have gained popularity within the town.
On Friday 11/2 we hosted a bioswale cleanup. This was one last chance to maintain the bioswales before the cold winter sets in.
The Ohiopyle Trail Town Reassessment took place on Tuesday 11/13. This reassessment had the highest number of participants so far. This assessment generated some very productive discussion following the town walk-through.
~ Joe Crumbley and Cara Madden
In November, Confluence had the Most Awesome Bake Sale and Trail Town Quilt Show on Saturday, the 17th at the Creative Arts Center. The following weekend was Light Up Night at the gazebo in the central square. Upcoming events include Bah Humbug: Inside a Dicken’s Classic on December 8 and the New Year’s Sock Hop on December 29 – both events take place at the Confluence Creative Arts Center.
~ Michelle Rapp
Rockwood’s bike loop is about ½ way complete! I have designed the map of the loop, road signs, and rack cards. I still have to contact a sign company to order the signs, as well as deliver the signs for installation. Once this project done it will be a great achievement for the town, as well as for SCA Trail Town!
Meyersdale had its annual Light Up Night celebration 11/24, to help kick off the holiday season!
The Meyersdale Trail Town reassessment was held 11/28 at the Levi Deal Mansion B&B. The turnout was great, allowing for detailed discussion about potential improvements that can be made in and around town.
After months of planning, attending meetings, and planning some more, the sugar maple tree planting will finally be complete! The trees were planted 11/29, a little later than we had initially planned, but nevertheless, the trees are finally in the ground; a great success! TTOC, along with project partners Jan and Michael, owners of the Levi Deal B&B, came out to help spread mulch and put the final touches on the landscape.
From Wednesday October 24 to Friday October 26, the Trail Town Outreach Corps went on our annual C&O Canal Towpath training trip. The C & O stretches from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD where it connects with the Great Allegheny Passage to create a continuous 325 mile bike trail to Pittsburgh, PA. We stopped in a variety of towns along the trail. Our first stop was Paw Paw, WV where we walked to the beautiful Paw Paw tunnel. Then we stopped in Williamsport, MD where the trailhead, located at the Cushwa basin, had an informative visitors center. On the second day of our trip we enjoyed exploring downtown Shepherdstown, WV, seeing the historic setting of Harpers Ferry, WV, and touring the historical museum in Brunswick, MD. Each of these towns was a unique piece of American history, and we enjoyed meeting with stakeholders in each of these towns. Many of their experiences working in trail network member towns were similar to our experiences working in GAP towns. Each of the towns faced challenges in directing trail users into the towns where they could find services and enjoy the local attractions. We finished up the third day of our trip at Great Falls in VA. Here there was a great visitors center and museum, as well as a beautiful look out onto the Great Falls of the Potomac river. During the trip we stayed in lock houses, where the lockmasters of the C&O Canal used to live. Staying in these houses was a fun step back in time, as they were decorated for specific decades. As part of the trip, we biked portions of the C & O Canal trail to see how the experience compares to the Great Allegheny Passage. The trail surface of the C & O Canal is rougher, and the trail felt a little wilder. Both trails are a lot of fun to ride and walk.
~Cara Madden and Michelle Rapp
The West Newton walking tour is nearly finished. This month a new map was created for the brochure. This new map design will make the tour route clearer and more user friendly. Once a final round of edits is completed, the brochure will be ready for printing.
The Trail Town Program reassessment of West Newton took place on October 4. A reassessment is a chance for people to walk around and envision the town through the eyes of a cyclist coming off the trail. Participation in this event included stakeholders from all sectors of West Newton including the borough, small businesses, the local trail group, etc…. These assessments are an interactive way to determine what projects have been successful, and where the Trail Town Outreach Corps should be focusing our efforts in the future. As in all of the trail towns, signage was found to be one future project in West Newton.
On October 2 the Trail Town Outreach Corps planted a native wildflower garden along the Great Allegheny Passage by the West Newton visitors center. This area tends to have water buildup following any rain, so we planted flowers that should help to mitigate this issue. Tilling the area for this garden would have been difficult, because there is old railroad ballast just below the grass surface. Instead, we used a no-till method of placing newspaper down to kill the grass and prevent weed growth. We covered the newspaper with layers of soil, and once we put the plants in, put some mulch on top. I am looking forward to the flowers blooming in the spring.
Connellsville recently had it's second town assessment. Community stakeholders got together to assess the town and trail from a trail user perspective. The group came up with many recommendations including better directional signage to amenities in town and filling vacant buildings where the trail comes into town.
In October, I participated in “Connecting Connellsville”, a workshop dedicated to creating an economic development plan for the town. During the workshop, we discussed ways to revitalize the downtown and rebuild the community. Groups were given large printed maps of Connellsville and asked to highlight parks, businesses, tourist hotspots, and potential areas that could be incorporated into new economic development. The Great Allegheny Passage, the new train display and coffee shop, Yough River Park and the Amtrak station were all talked about as good ways to encourage people to come into town where they could enjoy Connellsville’s historic downtown and small businesses. The Appalachian Regional Commission provided technical assistance and encouraged community members to create actions plans. These are steps that could be taken right away to improve businesses, neighborhoods, and tourism.
This month we successfully registered a number of Ohiopyle businesses for the Adopt-A-Bioswale program. Currently, 13 out of 28 bioswales have been adopted by businesses. The sign holders were made, and now we’re starting to finally see some headway. We had a Bioswlae clean-up day and hope to see further progress before we hand this project over to the Parks Department. Once the signs have been installed in the bioswales it will be fun to see the physical progress of this ongoing project.
October trail cleanup
On Saturday, October 6, Joe and I participated in the monthly Friends of Ohiopyle Trail Cleanup. We hiked the 3-mile Meadow Run loop trail in Ohiopyle with some volunteers and a DCNR naturalist. During the event we clipped some overhanging branches, and removed any logs which had fallen onto the path.
~Cara Madden and Joe Crumbley
PumpkinFest was a lot of fun! It was the first weekend of October. At PumpkinFest, I helped people sign up for the Ducky Race - it's an annual race using rubber ducks down the Casselman River. They scoop them up as the ducks pass one of the bridges. There are four winners: first, second, third and last! I also helped with Light up Night. All day at the Confluence Creative Arts Center, families had been carving pumpkins. As darkness started to fall, we arranged the pumpkins and placed candles in all of the Jack O’Lanterns. The lit up pumpkins looked really awesome in front of the Creative Arts Center – a converted church that serves as a community center.
On October 17th, Confluence had its Trail Town community re-assessment. Community members and the Trail Town Outreach Corps walked around Confluence to see how the town functioned for both visitors and locals. The assessment covered things like accessibility, signage and services. Since the Confluence is one of the trail towns along the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail, it was important to check on directional signage as well as ease of biking around town. Confluence rates high on the attractive town square and overall welcoming feeling. Everyone agreed that the signage had been improved recently with the new Great Allegheny Passage signposts and kiosks places along the trail. The assessments in each of the trail towns will help determine the work for next year's Trail Town Outreach Corps. Each of the trail towns have made significant improvements in the last few years and the new re-assessments can help the towns decide in what other ways they could increase sustainable economic development.
- TTOC planted 2 new flower beds in Rockwood! We worked hard and within one work day, managed to plant a few dozen of tulip bulbs, along with New York aster and daisies. The one flower bed is behind the monument/mural in town and the other is around the gazebo. The gazebo already had a few shrubs planted, along with lava rock, so we removed the lava rock, added some soil, plants, and mulch; voila!
- A bike loop is underway for Rockwood! The bike loop was recently proposed to Rockwood’s Borough Council and was approved. Work is now being done on signage design and ironing out other important specifics. Connellsville is the only other trail town to have a bike loop, so this is big news for TTOC!
- TTOC had a trash cleanup mid-October on both the north and south trailhead in Meyersdale. We started at the train station and worked our way, one mile each way along the GAP trail. There was not an excessive amount of garbage, but we still managed to pick up some litter along the trailside.
- Plans and a final planting date have been set for the trailhead improvement at the south entrance of the GAP trail. TTOC, along with partners and volunteers will be helping plant maple trees the weekend of November 17-18. This project has been a long time coming, and we are finally meeting our goal of planting the trees before winter is in full throttle!
Sustainable Supplier Guide
One of my main projects for the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network has been compiling a Sustainable Supplier Guide. The Guide contains a glossary of some common green labeling terms, and listings of sustainable brands, sustainability-focused stores, and local farms. This guide is designed to be a helpful resource to network members, by highlighting local sustainable resources for their business purchasing practices.
New blog format
This fall, the GAP SBN blog will be undergoing a format change. We will being posting a monthly blog, highlighting unique sustainable practices in the network. The idea is to share practices throughout the network, and encourage inter-network communication regarding experiences with a variety of sustainable operations.
~ Cara Madden
- As trail season comes to an end, so do trail counts. TTOC plans to continue manual trail counts until November, unless winter arrives earlier than expected.
- Overall, this year we have been able collect a lot of valuable information via both manual and synchronized trail counts. Not every trail count went smoothly though; there were several occasions where the trail counters were malfunctioning. Despite these challenges, all of the trail counts will pay off when the end of the year trail use report is finalized!
The Sustainable Trail Guide is coming along, additions being made to the herbicide and pesticide alternatives, as well as a list of invasive plants, and a resource of native plant alternatives. There are changes being made to the definitions listed, adding many and reducing some to make it less academic and more accessible to a broad spectrum of trail groups and users.
~ Joe Crumbley and Michelle Rapp
In Connellsville we have finished donating all of the produce from the community gardens, and ended up with a total of 545lbs. given to the local food bank and soup kitchen. Both organizations were very receptive, mentioning how many of their customers were used to canned goods and really valued the fresh from the vine taste. We had a recent potluck dinner to give appreciation to the volunteers for both garden plots, and gave our gratitude, as well as gratitude for all of those in town less fortunate, who needed those meals.
~ Joe Crumbley
•There will be a GAP SBN networking event held this November.
the event will feature a potluck dinner, a sustainability speaker, and networking opportunities for Sustainable Business Network members
•There were a number of local farmers and suppliers represented at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs. Learning about them has been helpful in my creation of a sustainable supplier guide for businesses along the Great Allegheny Passage.
Plans for a native wildflower rain garden alongside the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton have been approved. We will be planting the garden this week using a no-till method. Ideally this will help with a rainwater buildup problem in the area.
A self-guided historical downtown West Newton walking tour brochure is in the final editing stages.
~ West Newton
We have harvested 389lbs of produce so far, and although the local soup kitchen is no longer running, the food bank is always willing to receive our donations. The killing frost is potentially less than a week away, so we will have one more harvest, and then put rye cover crops on the surface of the soil so the root systems can protect it over the winter months.
Although there has been a frequent debate between residents and the city council on their decision to remove funding for garbage cans throughout the city, certain residents found a grant outside the one the council had dismissed. With multiple clubs organizing town beautification days, combined with having disposal units at our disposal, this town does have a chance to brighten its appeal.
On the 26th I helped the Garden Club remove dead plants form the third street beds, and pop the dead heads off of the marigolds. I had the chance to talk to two new Garden Club members, and introduce them to some hands on work that the Garden Club takes on quite regularly.
The Adopt-A-Bioswale program has some hold-ups, but the good news is it’s far enough along for the people in charge of the grant to take over once this program has ended. .
The bioswale signs have been ordered for the first round of businesses signed onto the Adopt-A-Bioswale program. When received, these signs will be posted in adopted bioswales, advertising the adoptee business.
~Joe Crumbley and Cara Madden
Confluence has a big event coming up this October. Pumpkinfest is a great event featuring hay rides, a Largest Pumpkin Contest, pie eating contest, Classic Car Show, a parade and lots of arts, crafts and food vendors. The festivities begin on Friday, October 5, at 11 am and continue through Sunday, October 6.
Recently, as part of Trail & Town beautification, the Trail Town Outreach Corps removed invasive species from the Ramcat trailhead at Ohiopyle State Park. The area consisted of a long flowerbed that volunteers had planted some years ago and included native species of Joe Pye Weed and coneflowers. As we worked on the area, trail users on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail thanked us for our service. It's a good feeling to have people who use the trail appreciate our efforts.
- Plans for several wildflower plantings have been made by TTOC and have been approved by Somerset County Rails-to-Trails and Rockwood Borough Council; these plantings are set to take place within the next few weeks.
o Locations for planting include: around the gazebo on the north side of the trail head, around the bike statue on the south side of the trail head, and in town behind the new patriotic mural/monument.
- The Trail Town Program will not be assisting with a new kiosk on the trail. There will not be an upgrade of the trail head kiosk, rather, community members and business owners said that they prefer to update it themselves. Updates will include the business directory.
- Trail season is winding down, so there is not much else to report at the moment.
- The beautification project for the south side of the trail head is in its final planning stages. I am still partnering with Jan Dofner, owner of the Levi-Deal mansion B&B. As of now, land preparation (i.e. stripping sod, tilling land, etc.) will take place no later than the second week of November; this is the biggest most time-consuming task. After the land is ready, a week later, we will have someone deliver the sugar maple trees, as well as dig separate holes (9-10) and help Jan and I plant.
o The second phase of the project, the interpretive signage, will be planned out during the winter months.
- Meyersdale hosted their train stations 100th year anniversary celebration, Saturday, September 29. This event showcased the train station’s history and community pride.
Busy, Chaotic, but Successful September Updates
- Overall, the month of September was super busy, as well as hectic at times. However, the craziness of it all paid off with lots of projects getting planned/completed and volunteer projects being accomplished.
- With autumn approaching, trail use has seemed to decrease slightly, while users are preparing for the leaf foliage display that is set to arrive in a few weeks.
- Synchronized trail counts are COMPLETE for the 2012 trail use season! The final trail count of the season took place Saturday, September 22. The data compiled from this year’s trail season will be used in the end of the year’s final trail use report of the GAP. A special thanks to all of my dedicated volunteers, who have sacrificed time with their friends and families to help harvest data to help the Trail Town Program!
- Manual trail counts are still underway, as the season begins to wind down. We plan to continue trail counts as long as the weather permits, aiming to complete this project by the end of September. Again, the data collected from manual trail counts will be used in the final report of the 2012 trail season.
o Rockwood’s trail counter was moved to a new location on the GAP trail. Instead of being on the south side of the trail, it is now located on the north side. The original intention of the trail counter was to be located north, however, there was miscommunication at the beginning of the trail season in May as to where the post needed to be. My supervisor, a volunteer, and I ventured out onto the trail mid-September to dig a new hole, insert a new trail post, and cement it into the ground. A simple task you might think? Think again. Ballast from the past railroad, snakes, bobcats, and tricky combination locks, were obstacles faced during the process. Despite these minor setbacks, we accomplished our final task after much determination!
Mother Earth News Fair was a lot of fun - a fair with workshops and vendors, based off of the nationally known magazine Mother Earth News. For this event, we didn’t have to work, only sit back and enjoy the many workshops offered at Seven Springs. There were great workshops covering everything from homesteading to gardening to building sustainable neighborhoods. The first workshop I attended covered ways to build soil fertility, using soil tests to see what nutrients are actually needed, and using organic fertilizers to feed the plants. Another interesting workshop was about the creation of sustainable neighborhoods through small steps: get people together to build community and generate ideas over a potluck. Sustainable ideas included tool sharing, taking down fences to create community play areas, and going in as a group to get solar panels for entire block of houses.
I highly recommend this fair to anyone interested in homesteading or alternative energy.
~Michelle Rapp and Rachael Christie
September 8 and 9 marked Connellsville’s 1st Annual Sustainability Fair. We had a booth on recycling in the area set up, where we educated the public on how, where, and when to recycle. The event also featured a variety of sustainable lifestyle vendors.
~Rachael Christie and Cara Madden
The following weekend I participated in Fayette County PA’s Buy Local Summit, an event with workshops on organic gardening, alternative energy, and other such topics. I, along with a fellow co-worker presented to an audience total of 16, about outdoor recreational opportunities in Fayette, Greene, Washington, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties.
Trail Town Ice Cream had its final delivery of the season!! After completing a survey with Trail Town Ice Cream retailers, both community members and trail users seem happy with the current flavors. For next year, we hope to have a producer who can also make regular deliveries of the ice cream. Then no one would have to wait for their favorite flavor!
GAP Ride Part 3
After much anticipation, the day to bike the final portion of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail had arrived. We (Trail Town Outreach Corps) started our 46 mile journey in Rockwood, PA with the goal to bike to the GAP’s mile marker 0, in Cumberland, MD. Stamina, cooler temperatures, and a nice downhill grade near the Eastern Continental Divide gave us the extra boost of confidence we needed to conquer the rest of the trail.
Overall, the ride from Rockwood to Cumberland was a completely new experience compared to the sections from the Waterfront to Connellsville. Much of this ride offered a taste of many different settings, landscapes, and ecosystems. Lush forests, farmland, and rolling hills accompanied us for much of this portion of the ride. The scenery was breathtaking at parts, especially once we pedaled on past Frostburg, closer to Cumberland. Not only was the natural landscape one-of-a-kind but so to were the bridges and tunnels we encountered throughout our journey.
The first landmark of the day was the Salisbury Viaduct, only a few miles away from Garrett and Meyersdale. I had always heard trail users mention this bridge, but I never truly understood why it was such a popular trail destination until I experienced it first-hand. There are other bridges along the GAP but I personally think that biking across the Salisbury Viaduct is a very unique experience that I now suggest to any trail user. Another popular spot on the trail is the Eastern Continental Divide tunnel. Cyclists often hang out underneath the tunnel to take a quick break, looking forward to the much anticipated downgrade that remains for the rest of the ride to Cumberland. A map on the wall of the tunnel charting the elevation gain along the trail is a really cool visual that allows cyclists to better understand the distance and grade that they have traveled. Another cool hot spot along the GAP is the Big Savage Tunnel, famous for its lengthy passage underground. It was yet again, a unique experience that can be challenging when in need of a bike headlight. My recommendation to anyone biking the GAP is to bring a headlight for your bicycle; that way you are not only prepared for any given situation but alsoso that you are equipped to bike through the tunnel.
The constantly changing landscape seemed to stimulate our senses, making the bike ride seem a lot shorter than 46 miles. Once we arrived to Frostburg, we took a quick break, only to bike to Cumberland for an additional 14 miles. The trail in Maryland offered a panoramic view of mountains and hills, both distant and close. The trail opened up, trees grew sparser, making it seem like we were biking around the mountain, gradually losing elevation as we moved closer to our destination.
All three days of our biking adventure on the GAP were much enjoyed. Changing landscapes, wildlife run-ins, and comfortable weather all made for a fresh and exciting bike ride. I highly recommend this trail to anyone who is an avid cyclist.
GAP Ride Part 2
The second leg of our GAP adventure was much less humid than the first, with a morning temperature of 65 F, increasing to 80 F in the afternoon. We rode from Connellsville to Rockwood along a well-shaded section of trail, with the occasional cool breeze. I very much liked the format of this ride. We covered 46 total miles; with 28 before lunch, and 18 afterward. The scenery too, was enjoyable, with abundant trees and wildflowers.
The first half of our ride stretched from Connellsville to Confluence. This portion of the ride was quiet and peaceful. We followed along beside the Youghiogheny river, with trees around us and their leaves above us. Between Connellsville and Ohiopyle we had a number of encounters with a trail-resurfacing project. This was tricky, as we had to take our bikes off the trail and ride through the trailside brush. However, there will be a uniformly smooth trail for future bikers coming along the trail following the maintenance project.
One point, about 5 miles before Ohiopyle, was my favorite part of the ride. There was a picturesque break in the trees between the trail and river. One could look out across the sun-glistening Youghiogheny, offset by clusters of black-eyed susans growing along the hill sloping up from the river. In addition to this scene, there was a significant amount of wildflowers along this portion of the trail. We encountered a variety of wildlife as well, including butterflies and frogs. In a small meadow just past Ohiopyle, there was a family of 3 deer, which was fun to see from so close on our bikes.
After the morning portion of our trip, we enjoyed sandwiches at The Lucky Dog Café in Confluence. Following momentary confusion due to a lack of experience and distinctive signage along the trail in Confluence, we found the café and eagerly dismounted our bikes for a break from pedaling and an enjoyable meal on the patio. After an hour of relaxing lunchtime, we hopped back on our bikes and set off on the remaining portion of our trip.
The second half of our trip, from Confluence to Rockwood, at 18 miles, was less intimidating than the 28 mile marathon we biked in the morning. However, this portion was not to be taken lightly, as we were tired and sore from the morning’s travels. This portion of the trail truly gave an impression of being in the wilderness. Cell service did not reach this area, and there were fewer opportunities to use the bathroom or fill a water bottle than previously. On this section of the trail, there was a permanent detour on abandoned rail line around the Pinkerton Tunnel, near Markleton. After following the detour for what seemed like a number of miles, we encountered a mile marker that had only decreased by one mile since the previous marker. As a result, we are curious if these mile markers inaccurately reflect the mileage including the detour.
The last few miles of trail coming into Rockwood were scenic. Despite the date being August 23rd, the combination of the sight and smell of fallen colorful leaves gave the impression of autumn. There were many late-summer wildflowers blooming, and an abundance of butterflies fluttered around our wheel spokes as we biked along. In the last mile before Rockwood, there are a number of interesting waterfall outcroppings which flow downhill from the woods toward the river. Finally, after 46 miles we arrived in Rockwood. We purchased ice cream at the Rockwood Mill Shoppes, which was a great way to end the journey. Despite a continuous gradual incline from Connellsville to Rockwood, this was an enjoyable ride filled with pleasant scenery.
I presented the updated version of this powerpoint to the Yough River Trail Council and was surprisingly well received. They had already begun ideas of their own on naturescaping, which is eliminating lawn areas for native plant species, in order to help local wildlife, conserve water, and reduce cost and maintenance. They also had started ideas of putting a rhododendron garden in the middle of a round-a-bout, beautifying an area surrounded by concrete. They had also showed interest in trying out some pesticide and herbicide alternatives. It was a successful presentation, and afterwards people came up and showed their interest in certain topics. The questionnaire regarding the most pertinent issues of the trail was helpful, and was filled out by almost everyone.
This program has had some hold-ups with a missing check and reluctant businesses. The Ranger at Ohiopyle State Park has let me know today that she had sent out a check to the business responsible for making the sign holders for this program’s signs a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, the check is currently lost. The three businesses who have signed the paperwork allowing them to be a part of this program are going to have their signs started as soon as a separate company in charge of the sign portion returns my message.
Recently, I have been doing surveys for Trail Town Ice Cream and getting ready for the final order of the season! Each Trail Town has its own unique flavor and so far people seem to really enjoy all the different flavors. Both locals and trail users are eating the ice cream and it's a fun way to learn about the town's history and culture while cooling down from a hot day on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
|Trail Season Winding Down - TTOC November project updates|
|TTOC November Town Updates|
|About the Site|
|Emma Strong - Project Leader|
|TTOC 2012 winds down|
|C&O Canal Towpath trip - TTOC October|
|Trail Town October Updates|
|GAP Sustianable Business Network October TTOC Update|
|Trail Counts Winding Down - TTOC October Update|
|Sustainable Trail Guide - TTOC October Update|
|Putting the Gardens to Bed - Connellsville Community Gardens - Oct. update|
|GAP SBN September Update|
|TTOC Town Updates - September|
|Trail Counters - Sept. TTOC Update|
|TTOC Sept. Events|
|Trail Town Ice Cream Sept. Update - TTOC|
|GAP Ride Part 3|
|GAP Ride Part 2|
|Sustainable In Ground Aquifer - Irrigation methods to preserve water through underground condensation|
|Sustainable Trail Guide - TTOC August Update|
|Adopt-A-Bioswale - TTOC August Update|
|Trail Town Ice Cream - TTOC August Update|
|Wet counters, Spiders, and Bears, Oh My: TTOC August Trail Count Update|
|Connellsville Community Gardens - TTOC August Update|
|TTOC August Education and Outreach|
|TTOC GAP SBN August Update|
|TTOC August Town Updates|
|GAP Ride Part 1|
|Wet Counters - TTOC July Trail Count Update|
|Sustainable business rack cards finished - TTOC GAP SBN July Update|
|Harvest Time - TTOC July Community Garden Update|
|TTOC July Ice Cream Update|
|July TTOC Town Updates|
|June TTOC Town Updates|
|Great weather for Trail Town Ice Cream - June update|
|Connellsville Community Gardens are in full bloom - June update|
|Spiders and mis-placed trail count posts - Trail Count June updates|
|Tabling and Radio Shows - June Trail Town Outreach Corps Outreach Events|
|A Sustainable June - GAP Sustainable Business Network Update|
|Trail Town Ice Cream - TTOC May Update|
|Trail Counts - May TTOC Update|
|Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network - TTOC May Update|
|Sustainable Trail Manual - TTOC May Update|
|Community Gardens - TTOC May Update|
|TTOC May Town Updates|
|Kaleb Shissler's Monthly TTOC Update - April|