The Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails (LVRT) has reached another milestone in the planning of a trail connection between Jonestown and the Swatara State Park near Lickdale.
Phase 10, as the connection is referred to, will run 3 miles, beginning just north of Route 22 and continuing into the south end of the Swatara trail northeast of Route 72 and Lickdale Road. Most of the land has already been bought from private owners. When finished the shared-use trail will include 2 small bridges and a 40-car trailhead.
LVRT recently submitted a grant application for the design work on the trail to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The grant would total $800,000 and includes the construction of the bridges ($300,000) and the overall design ($500,000).
LVRT President John Wengert is looking forward to opening Phase 10 to the public. “It’s a really beautiful stretch of land,” he says, tracing a line on the map through woods and along the Swatara Creek.
“I think people are going to enjoy it.”
Phase 10 is projected to be complete by 2021, although it is possible that the pathway will be usable for mountain biking and hiking much earlier. The trail itself runs partially on an old towpath once trod by goats.
In the roughly 16 years the project has been in progress, the trail has gotten quite popular, especially for weekend bikers and families. “Our data tells us that there are at least several thousand visitors on the trails over the weekend,” says Wengert.
Other sections in the works? Lebanon residents may be aware that the current trail in town coming up from Cornwall ends at Chestnut Street. The connection between that end and another section of trail at 25th Street is also coming along well, and will run through the upcoming Wengert Memorial Park below Cumberland Street in Western Lebanon. This section is labeled Phase 6 in the map above, coded red.
The aforementioned trail at 25th Street (Phase 7) is nearing completion, and will run 1.8 miles north to Long Lane. Wengert expects Phase 7 to be finished in approximately six weeks.
At the end of the month, LVRT will hold a meeting for potential new volunteers. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the organization, especially in representing northern Lebanon County, visit the LVRT Get Involved page and contact John Wengert.
For more information, visit the LVRT webpage or view the latest status report on the project (PDF).