Kiski-Conemaugh gains national trail designation
A new national designation has helped raise the profile of the region's Kiski-Conemaugh River Trail and could also give a boost to communities like Blairsville and Saltsburg that are located along the trail.
Federal and local officials gathered in Blairsville June 5 to announce that the 86-mile Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail has been designated as a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.
To mark the occasion, Peggy Pings, representing the National Parks Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, presented a certificate to Jane Sheffield, executive director of the Altoona-based Allegheny Ridge Corporation. The latter organization has worked to promote the Kiski-Conemaugh River Trail as part of the 320-mile Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.
“This is a great designation for your community,” Pings told officials from Blairsville. She noted the Kiski-Conemaugh corridor will join a national trail system, first authorized in 1968, that includes about 1,200 other routes covering more than 15,000 miles among all 50 states.
The presentation took place as participants in the 15th annual Stony-Kiski-Conemaugh Sojourn arrived in Blairsville towing canoes and kayaks to camp along the Conemaugh River before the second day of the four-day event.
The Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail begins on the Conemaugh River in Johnstown and enters the Kiskiminetas River at Saltsburg before ending at Freeport, where the Kiski River drains into the Allegheny River. It includes scenic gaps through the Laurel and Chestnut ridges and historic traces of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the 19th-century Main Line Canal.
In the past, the Kiski-Conemaugh has been honored as Pennsylvania's River of the Year. Laura Hawkins, greenway coordinator for the Allegheny Ridge Corporation, expressed hope that the new national trail designation will prompt more local residents as well as visitors to explore recreational opportunities on the local rivers.
“We know that there aren't nearly enough local folks taking advantage of the river,” Hawkins said. “If the Department of the Interior thinks enough of this river to designate it as a National Recreation Trail, which is a really significant opportunity for us, hopefully the rest of us will think so.
“What this designation does is it puts us on the national map. We're now in a database with other water trails from across the country. All of the information about the towns along the trail, the history of this corridor, is available through a national database at the National Park Service for people who are ... seeking outdoor recreational opportunities and multi-day river trips.”
Through the sojourn, participants can sign up for any or all three days of traveling downstream on the Conemaugh and Kiskiminetas rivers with a whitewater trip offered on the fourth day.
Hawkins noted the sojourn had become so popular at one point that it had almost become unmanageable, prompting organizers to ease up on promoting the event.
Participation has since dropped — to 70 some total, averaging about 50 per day, this year, she said: “We'd like to get it a little bit higher, maybe into the 70s for the daily number.”
Hawkins said the National Recreation Trail designation also should provide an advantage to local communities or organizations that may seek federal funding for trail improvements or related amenities along the rivers.
Recent efforts to promote use of the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail have included updating a trail map and guide and developing a smartphone application that allows trail users to check out historic views of sites along the trail.
More about the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail can be found at www.mainlinecanalgreenway.org/water_trails_kiski.shtml.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blairsville judge accused in hit-run set to enter program for 1st-time offenders
- Indiana County earmarks funds for improvements to rental housing
- Blairsville eyes 2-mill tax increase
- Saltsburg grad developing app to help addicts with recovery
- Saltsburg equestrian earns spot in prestigious Rolex event