MOUNT JEWETT – And the best trail award goes to a local section of the Knox and Kane Rail Trail.
The Club Section of the Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge (MJ2KB) Trail is a 7.8-mile section of the larger Knox & Kane Rail Trail in McKean County. The former railway line now offers a level path for walking, jogging, cycling and horseback riding. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are also popular during the winter months.
Comprised of nearly 75 miles, 40 of which are completed, across four counties (McKean, Elk, Forest and Clarion), the Knox & Kane Rail Trail offers family outdoor fun. And the section that takes people from U.S. Route 219 at Lantz Corners to near the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk in the Kinzua State Park has just been named Pennsylvania’s 2023 Trail of the Year by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
MJ2KB Club President Carolyn Stroup said: “I’ve been sitting on this news waiting to share with the group but it was not released in time for our last club meeting. This is such good news. We are very grateful for this prestigious award. This is an honor and a tribute to how well our Trail Club members work together as a team.”
The next MJ2KB Trail Club meeting will be on Thursday, February 23 at 7pm at Mount Jewett Memorial Library. Meetings and memberships are public.
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced Tuesday that the 7.8-mile stretch was named Pennsylvania’s 2023 Trail of the Year, stating, “Trails play an important role in supporting communities across the Commonwealth by empowering them.” Connecting people to nature, recreational opportunities, communities and surrounding history, new businesses and much more. Congratulations to the MJ2KB Trail Club for this honor and special thanks for the hard work in supporting and improving this trail.”
Stroup agreed with Dunn that it is the club members and volunteers that make the trail what it is. She said: “The work they do to keep the path going and to preserve what we have, we couldn’t do any of this without them.”
Part of the award, Stroup added, will be applying for a mini-grant that supports trail education and outreach, though she said she’ll wait until after the next meeting to find out what the project looks like becomes.
“There’s already a pavilion at Kinzua Bridge State Park that will be part of the trail, our members and volunteers say so too.” She explained that this is the start of her trail segment, “it actually ends after Lantz Corners.” There’s also four pavilions with picnic tables along the 8-mile route. “People have told us that they really appreciate the pavilions. They were surprised by the rain and managed to find shelter. Others have told us that the pavilions were their destinations along the way,” Stroup added. And the path already contains information signs along the way.
Stroup told DCNR, “We are excited and look forward to working with DCNR and WeConservePA to provide training that will increase community participation in the Knox & Kane Rail Trail and promote trails in the PA wilderness.”
This is one of the few sections that allows horseback riding and snowmobiling. “It’s really quite a unique stretch of track, even for 8 miles. Other sections do not have this. A mural was installed on a barn facing the trail in 2022, it’s a beautiful American flag, there are trestle bridges along the trail and many access points. It is a wonderful path for everyone.”
Visit the MJ2KB Trail Club website for more information.
Kinzua Bridge State Park uses the trail section of the MJ2KB for year-round nature walks and natural history events. The trail highlights the ecological and historical aspects of the area in a series of directional signs posted along the 7.8 miles. The trail is also important to the community, which has used the trail for events such as senior rides, special hikes, bike races, and marathons.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee nominates Trail of the Year to generate enthusiasm and support for trails across the state and to increase public awareness of the value of Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network. Pennsylvania continues its tradition of being a leader in trail development by making more than 12,000 miles of trails available to its citizens and visitors. To fill the gaps in this network and make hiking trails accessible to all, DCNR aims to have a hiking trail for all Pennsylvanians within 10 minutes.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is tasked with implementing the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Trails Strategic Plan to develop a statewide land and waterway network to facilitate recreation, transportation, and a healthy lifestyle for all. Appointed by the DCNR, the 20-member committee represents both motorized and non-motorized trail users and advises the Commonwealth on the use of state and federal trail funding.
ExplorePaTrails provides details on more than 650 hiking trails covering nearly 12,000 miles in Pennsylvania.
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