The Countryside Conservancy has made another stride in its goal to create a walking trail that stretches 14 miles from Clarks Summit to Lake Winola.
The nonprofit land trust recently wrapped up the third phase of its Trolley Trail, adding a 0.7-mile stretch parallel to Routes 6 and 11 between Cherry Street in Dalton and West La Plume Road in La Plume Twp.
“This has been a long haul.… We feel very fortunate that we were able to complete the project,” said Countryside Conservancy Trail Coordinator Cheryl Ellsworth.
The Conservancy previously introduced a 2.7-mile connection from Clarks Summit to Dalton, as well as 1.7 miles of trail from La Plume Twp. to Factoryville through the Keystone College campus.
While the sections currently stand alone, Ellsworth said users could access the Keystone section using College Road at the West La Plume Road end of the new stretch.
The new section offers a short walk underneath a mature canopy of hardwoods with a view of a historic concrete abutment that used to hold up a trolley bridge which is no longer there. The Countryside Conservancy also installed new educational signage throughout all three sections.
“We have had an outstanding response from the community,” Ellsworth said. “They are thrilled to have it, they appreciate it and we’re very pleased about how well people are maintaining it.”
With Trolley Trail usage up significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Countryside Conservancy Executive Director Bill Kern said foot traffic has been “nuts in a positive way.”
Usage has increased at the college as people try to spread out between the two sections in order to practice social distancing. He thinks adding a third section gives the community another safe option to recreate outdoors.
“Not only has the Trolley Trail seen a massive increase in use, but so have our other preserves and trail systems,” Kern said. “It’s really just a healthy way to get outside and enjoy Northeast Pa.”
The Countryside Conservancy is already looking toward opportunities to expand the Trolley Trail and connect its existing sections.
Also ongoing is the 2020 Harvest Appeal, which Kern called especially important this year after the Conservancy couldn’t hold its auction and smaller fundraising events due to the pandemic. Donations help the nonprofit continue protecting and connecting green spaces in the region.
“We’re hoping to finish strong fundraising-wise,” he said.
Donate online at www.countrysideconservancy.org, call 570-945-6995 or mail a check to P.O. Box 55, La Plume Twp., PA 18440.