Video from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Out of the thousands of trails in Pennsylvania, a trail of less than 8 miles in northwestern PA was named the 2023 Trail of the Year!
The Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge (MJ2KB) Trail is a 7.8-mile-long section of the larger Knox & Kane Rail Trail in McKean County. The former rail line now provides a level trail for walking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding. In winter months, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are also popular.
The trail is located within the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds. This portion of the trail runs from the small town of Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge State Park, the location of what was once the highest and longest railroad viaduct that was reinvented as a new pedestrian walkway (called the Kinzua Skywalk) after the bridge was struck by a tornado. Kinzua Bridge State Park also has a modern visitor center and is the home of the flagship PA Wilds Conservation Shop, featuring products made in the PA Wilds by local artisans and craftspeople.
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County at the end of August to celebrate the MJ2KB trail as Pennsylvania’s 2023 Trail of the Year.
“Congratulations to the Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge Trail Club for elevating this phenomenal trail and supporting the many recreational opportunities it provides,” Dunn said. “Trails connect people to nature, recreational opportunities, communities, history, businesses, and so much more. September is Trails Month in Pennsylvania and this celebration is a perfect way to lead us into our celebration of the important role of trails across the Commonwealth.”
Photo: Secretary Dunn speaking at the Trail of the Year Celebration
The trail offers amenities, such as pavilions, focused artwork, railroad trestles and dining options within close proximity of the rail trail. The MJ2KB trail is also important to the community, which has used the trail for events like senior citizen rides, special hikes, bike races and marathons.
“We are very grateful to receive this prestigious award, which is an honor and a tribute to how well our trail club members work as a team,” said Carolyn Stroup, MJ2KB Trail Club president. “This has been a great opportunity to educate the public about the trail and region as a whole. We aim to continue increasing community involvement on the Knox and Kane Rail Trail and promoting trails in the PA Wilds.”
Photo: Carolyn Stroup speaking at the Trail of the Year Celebration
Visit the MJ2KB Trail Club website for more information on the club.
The MJ2KB Trail Club works in partnership with the Knox & Kane Rail Trail and Kinzua Bridge State Park. The state park staff uses MJ2KB’s section of trail for nature walks and naturalist events throughout the year. The trail highlights the environmental and historical aspects of the area in a series of interpretive signs placed along the 7.8 miles.
Gov. Josh Shapiro and his administration are focused on protecting clean air, water, and healthy lands for all Pennsylvanians. The Commonwealth’s 2023-24 budget provides $112 million to maintain and improve infrastructure in parks and forests, which is the single largest investment in decades. Additionally, the budget proposes $2.8 million to support operating needs for the management and safety of our public lands, and the creation of a new Office of Outdoor Recreation.
September is Pennsylvania Trails Month and DCNR encourages residents to get outside and spend time on a trail to help improve health and wellness. ExplorePaTrails offers details on more than 650 trails covering more than 12,000 miles in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Trails Strategic Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and healthy lifestyles for all. The 20-member DCNR-appointed committee represents both motorized and non-motorized trail users and advises the commonwealth on use of state and federal trail funding.