Although the Highlands Trail was conceived primarily as a "rugged footpath" a good portion of the PA Highlands Trail Network in Pennsylvania will traverse suburban and urban landscapes via towpath, rail trails, multi-use footpaths, and even sidewalks and roadways. The Highlands Trail will create connectivity between several other trail systems, linking parks, town centers, historic sites, schools, and scenic vistas.
Our recently completed Feasibility Study envisions trail routes within the Quakertown Region that cover the gamut of trail types and uses. This region contains a significant number of highway barriers for people who would like to travel short distances by foot or on a bicycle. For example Rt. 309 is difficult for pedestrians to cross, cutting off Quakertown Borough from large subdivisions on the west side of the six lane, heavily traveled commercial strip. A key to developing trails such as those envisioned in the Feasibility Study is to promote the benefits of trails, such as allowing students to walk or bike to school, or making it possible for local residents to visit stores or restaurants.
The benefits of trails are well documented and to add to that body of knowledge a recent survey was conducted for the the National Association of Realtors that provides a strong case that people desire to live in communities that are 1) walkable; 2) contain mixed-use (homes, work places and shopping areas) and; 3) allow for shorter commutes. Follow this link to read more about the survey.
We anticipate working with our PA Highlands partners to promote the overlooked economic benefits of trails, with outreach to businesses, economic development organizations, health care providers and community leaders. Building a trail network requires significant investments, but there are economic payoffs in addition to the quality of life benefits.