Parker One of Three Trail Towns in Pennsylvania in National North Country Trail

Trail-speakers-Moure-Rice-McCall-Donna-1024x768PARKER, Pa. (EYT) – Although Parker is sometimes called the “Smallest City in the U.S.A.,” city friends and supporters celebrated last week after being designated as only the third official trail town in Pennsylvania along the national North Country Trail.

(Photo: Dan Moure, Ron Rice, Parker Mayor Bill McCall, and State Representative Donna Oberlander.)

“The Butler County Chapter of the North Country Trails Association has elevated the city of Parker to the status of a trail town for the North Country National Scenic Trail,” said Ron Rice, president of the Butler County Chapter. “May this trail town status be mutually beneficial to both the city of Parker and to the North County National Scenic Trail.”

The trail comes into Parker along North Jackson Street, before turning onto Washington Street, where it winds along the Allegheny River, before crossing the Route 368 Bridge into Clarion County.

Pennsylvania currently accounts for 265 miles of the trail.

Parker Mayor Bill McCall said the trail town designation would help the city.

“The trail, being through the city, actually helps our businesses,” said McCall.  “It’s one more piece of the recreational package that we have, and it kind of ties the Blueprint Communities of Foxburg, Parker, and Emlenton together because they are also trail towns, only for a different trail.  I think it’s just one piece of the puzzle.”

Dan Moure, Parker coordinator and past Butler County Chapter President, said efforts to secure the trail town designation 15-18 years ago.

“We’ve really been working on this a long time,” said Moure, a Chicora resident.  “We’ve slowly built the trail and expanded it, and Parker was ideal for it.  It really didn’t take us long to name Parker as a trail town because it’s always been sort of a trail town because it had the river along the trail.  Where we’re standing, there was at one time a railroad and there was a railroad on the opposite side of the river and with the road coming through, it’s a natural trail town.”

The North County Trail is a national scenic trail of 4,690 miles from North Dakota to the state of New York. The regional office for the Trail is located in Michigan.

“Right here in Pennsylvania, it crosses down in Beaver County and up into Allegheny National Forest,” said Moure.  “We’re going to have close to 300 miles when we’re done, total in Pennsylvania.  There are four chapters that sort of cover that area: Wampum Chapter down near Beaver, the Butler Chapter, and right here in Parker at the river starts Clarion, and Clarion runs on up to Cook Forest and then the Allegheny National Forest Chapter takes over.”

State Representative Donna Oberlander also offered her congratulations at the ceremony and praised the efforts for the recognition.

Moure felt that Parker had a lot to offer as a trail town.

“We have the river, the hikers, the bikers, and they’re coming through real quick,” said Moure.  “It’s a place where the long distance hikers can stop, and Parker has most of the amenities you need: restaurants, post office, banks, and things like that.  We’d like to see them get a bed and breakfast.  It’s been a real honor to work in the Parker area on this project.”

Dan Moure

Celebration organizers offered a number of guided walking tours for different sections of the trail following the speakers.

The North Country Trail began as a US Forest Service proposal in the mid-1960s. In 1968, Congress passed the National Trails System designating the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails as the first national scenic trails. The Department of the Interior was directed to study other proposed routes, including the North Country Trail, as potential national scenic trails. The 1975 study report recommended creation of the North country NST as a component of the national trail system. In March of 1980, Congress passed the necessary legislation and brought national attention to the outstanding scenic and recreational values of the trail and its route.

Through the combined efforts of many people, the 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail will be become the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States. Although it will take many years to complete the trail, users are already enjoying over 2,600 miles open to public use.

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