Rail-trail signage a must

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In real estate, the mantra is location, location, location.

In rail-trails, the plea is signage, signage, signage.

If bicyclists, birders, walkers, runners, cross-country skiers and snow-shoers can’t find a trail, they can’t use it.

It’s the responsibility of trail users to visit websites to get directions to trailheads and download trail maps if available. It’s the responsibility of trail organizations to keep their websites up to date as well as the information they post on bulletin boards at trailheads and other access points along their respective trails.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Unless it has been restocked recently, the information on the bulletin board at the Deal trailhead on the Great Allegheny Passage in southern Somerset County is outdated, and there are no trail maps.

A bulletin board at a Y intersection on the Montour Trail where users can continue up and over the highest point (1,221 feet) on the trail in Bethel Park near Al’s Café or bear right and head toward the Library Viaduct had no current information recently and no trail maps.

The appearance of the bulletin board at the Ebensburg trailhead of the Ghost Town Trail — and the information posted on it — drew the attention of the Trail Town Outreach Corps. A suggestion was made at a trail town assessment review in June that the bulletin board should be updated.

The upgrade was completed July 25, said Will Prince, program manager of the Trail Town Program that encourages and assists economic development along rail-trails.

“[It] is now brightly colored and contains updated information regarding the businesses in town as well as events that are happening,” Prince said. “The bulletin board is much more inviting and gives trail users the information they need to encourage them to visit Ebensburg.

“These upgrades don’t need to occur often, but [they] can make a huge difference. Having updated information helps trail users know about the amenities and activities that [each trail town] has to offer.”

If nothing else, the latest copy of a trail map, preferably enlarged, should be mounted under Plexiglas on bulletin boards at trailheads. Individual copies of trail maps should be placed in a clear plastic container with a lid.

Yes, people have been known to remove the maps and scatter them on the ground. I’ve picked up after such people and put the maps back in the containers. The best containers appear to be the ones that limit the removal of trail maps one at a time.

Jim Holden Memorial Ride

The Jim Holden Memorial Ride, a 57.4-mile trip from Titusville to Foxburg that will be limited to 100 bicyclists on a first-come, first-serve basis, will be Sept. 6. Riders should be prepared for a few steep inclines, several on-the-road segments and two tunnels where participants have to provide their own lights — the brighter the better.

Holden, who died nearly a year ago, was a leader in the development of the Allegheny Valley Trails Association. He was founding president of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance (EPTA) that is developing a 270-mile trail system designed to connect the Bayfront in Erie to The Point in Pittsburgh.

The alliance said it hopes the ride will draw attention to the missing segments of the trail and “just get people out on trails, something Jim always advocated.”

The $25 registration fee includes shuttle service from Foxburg to Titusville, a light lunch in Franklin and designated rest areas with restrooms. EPTA said it will use the proceeds for future projects and/or administration costs.

Information: Erie to Pittsburgh Facebook Group.

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

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