Montour Trail Council enters 30th year of championing outdoors
Most of what once was a railroad line now serves as a recreational trail linking many communities in the South Hills and West Hills.
Members of the Montour Trail Council, which maintains its headquarters at 304 Hickman St., Bridgeville, have worked to extend the trail throughout the South Hills into Washington County and around the country.
The council was organized in 1989 by a group of volunteers for the purpose of acquiring the abandoned right of way of the Montour Railroad and developing it as a trail for non-motorized recreation. After the railroad ceased operation in 1984, the unused rails became a popular place for walkers. The first segment of the trail, 4.5 miles in Cecil, opened in October 1992, with the Cecil Friends of the Montour Trail being formed a year later.
The various community-based Friends groups are volunteers who assist with ongoing maintenance of the trail and the organization’s annual fundraising efforts. Another supportive group is the Montour Railroad Historical Society (montourr.com).
The trail continued to grow in 1993 with 2.6 miles added in Findlay and 5.2 miles through Moon and Robinson Townships. A 3.5-mile section opened in North Fayette in 1994.
Over the next few years, more trail mileage opened in Bethel Park, McDonald and Clairton. The trail connects to the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail system that stretches over 330 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
In total, the Montour Trail goes through 12 suburban communities in Allegheny and Washington counties with new sections being added every year towards a completion goal of the 46-mile mainline route going from Moon to Clairton.
The trail has been named a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service. In 2017, it was named Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year and it became part of U.S. Bicycle Route 50, which runs east-west and, when completed, will span the country.
Its Annual National Tunnel Race, 5K, 10K Run and 2K Family Fun Walk is set for April 14 beginning at 9:15 a.m. at The Tandem Connection, 5 Georgetown Road, Hendersonville (not Cecil Park as in the past). This is one of its major fundraisers.
The council’s board of directors meets every third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Bridgeville office. All donations to this nonprofit organization are tax-deductible.
To join one of the Friends groups or to volunteer, call 412-257-3011 or visit montourtrail.org for more information. Call 724-745-2453 to register for the race.