Redbank Valley trail receives big honors

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Angela Burtner said the Redbank Valley Trail selection as the Trail of the Year fits right in with Outdoor Adventures 2014 on Aug. 9, a full day of activities, including bicycling, organized by the Clarion County Trails Association.

"The timing was perfect," said Burtner, an association director. She said the Trail of the Year designation by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the first time the agency has bestowed that title, "is well-deserved."

The 42 mile all-seasons trail extends from Brookville in Jefferson County to the point where Redbank Creek flows into the Allegheny River, just below East Brady in Armstrong County. It also includes a nine-mile branch trail from Lawson ham to Sligo in Clarion County.

The plans for Outdoor Adventures 2014 were announced Wednesday by the Clarion County Commissioners, the Redbank Valley Trails Association and its Clarion County counterpart at a news conference in New Bethlehem.

The event will include a fishing tournament, a kayak poker run, geocaching, a Chinese auction, wine tasting and wine sales, food and beverages and a community-wide yard sale.

There also will be a round-trip hike to the Climax Tunnel. The tunnel, currently closed, marks the end of a 17-mile cinder-surface segment of the main trail that begins at the Allegheny River and the 25-mile segment that has a crushed limestone surface. The Allegheny Valley Land Trust owns the trail.

In announcing the Trail of the Year, DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti said the Redbank Valley Trail stood out "because of the dedicated work of tremendous volunteers; its scenic beauty; connection to other trail systems; and quick and efficient pace of development."

She cited the trail's parallel proximity to Redbank Creek, its many bridges and beautiful stone arches. She said it serves as a connection to schools and soccer fields and also links rural areas to commercial and residential centers.

The Redbank Valley Trail connects to the Armstrong Trail, the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage to Washington, D.C. "It is also part of an initiative to connect Pittsburgh to Ridgway in the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds," Ferretti said.

Darla Kirkpatrick, president of the Redbank Valley Trails Association, said the trail's award "belongs to all of our amazing, dedicated volunteers and our community, local government and business supporters who have committed so much of their time, energy, equipment and money.

"The Trail of the Year designation will help us garner more support so we can improve and open the Climax Tunnel; finish surfacing more miles; add amenities; attract more businesses for needed economic development in the region and make more people aware of this truly beautiful recreational asset."


Just the basics

A free "Bike-Right Check-Up" for bicyclists "of all ages and experience levels" will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in the parking lot of the former Pittsburgh Burger Company in The Waterfront.

The rain-or-shine event, sponsored by the Steel Valley Trail Council and Bike-the-GAP, will focus on the basics of biking, said Sara Petyk, founder and owner of the latter, a company that arranges self-guided bike tours along the GAP and the C&O Canal Towpath.

Petyk said the check-ups will be conducted by herself and "experienced everyday cyclists" who will emphasize the importance of proper tire inflation, brake adjustment and chain maintenance along with the proper use of quick releases for wheels and seats. She said another free check-up will be on July 26.


Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.

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