Residents and elected officials huddled over maps and plotted paths Tuesday for a trail to link Gettysburg and Emmitsburg, Md.
A local group hopes to build a walking/bicycling trail between the two towns which would then connect them to a larger trail system, the Grand History Trail. The trail would reach places such as the C&O Canal, Washington D.C., and Annapolis, Bob Thomas told a crowd of approximately 45 people at Gettysburg Area Rec Park.
Thomas is a partner in Campbell Thomas & Co., a community planning firm that has designed similar trails throughout the state. The Grand History Trail would span 250 miles and about two-thirds of the trail exists already, according to a release from Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI). The firm is currently assessing the feasibility of the Gettysburg-Emmitsburg section.
HABPI, Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority (GARA), Gettysburg National Military Park, and the townships of Liberty, Freedom, and Cumberland are involved in the effort.
Since the Gettysburg-Emmitsburg leg is still in the preliminary stage, Thomas invited those gathered at the park to brainstorm potential paths. Thomas emphasized the importance of building a trail that would be safe for all people, whether or not they are experienced at biking on busy roads, and shows off the beauty of the landscape.
“Our feeling is that a trail should be more than just a safe thing that gets you from one place to another. It should almost be a destination in itself,” Thomas said.
At one table, Tim Shields of Gettysburg Nature Alliance said the trail could be a big draw for tourists as well as locals. While many people come to Gettysburg for the history, children tend to tire of it after a few days, he said. Having a trail would offer another activity to tourists. He suggested installing signs along the trail to identify trees and highlight other aspects of the environment.
Gettysburg Councilman Chris Berger agreed with the thought that a trail would appeal to visitors.
“I’d love to see the people stay in Gettysburg longer,” Berger said. “We are encouraging people to walk and bike in town, too.”
Moving forward, Campbell Thomas & Co. will accept feedback from local people and communicate with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The firm will consider how the trail could impact the environment and property lines, Thomas said. Who maintains the trail and how much it will cost to build are questions that will be answered after they know where the trail will be located, according to Thomas.
Those interested in providing input can email HABPI at email@example.com.