U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary, Richard Allan, and Lehigh County Executive, Don Cunningham, will officially open the Lehigh County owned and controlled portion of the D&L Trail at a ceremony at the Slatington Trailhead on Monday, Aug. 22 at 11 a.m.
The trailhead is located in Slatington adjacent to the Main Street Bridge that connects Slatington and Walnutport.
The new 6.2-mile section of the trail runs from Main Street in Slatington south to Laury's Station.
It follows former Lehigh Valley railroad bed and is one of several key stretches needed to complete the 165-mile trail from Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County to Bristol in Lower Bucks County.
The Lehigh County project includes the construction the Slatington Trailhead and a second trailhead at Cove Road in North Whitehall Township.
The project is supported by Whitehall Township, North Whitehall Township, Washington Township, and the Borough of Slatington.
Coupled with more than five miles of D&L Trail that previously was completed north of Slatington, bicyclists, hikers and walkers now have approximately 15 miles of recently opened trail.
The new portion of trail parallels the Lehigh River through a scenic portion of Lehigh County that includes high cliffs and forests. Trail users will appreciate the shade and rushing waters of the Lehigh.
The D&L Marathon/Half Marathon will use the new trail as part of its 26.2-mile course on October 23.
Major funding for the project was provided by DCNR and Lehigh County's Green Futures Fund. Other funding was provided by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Lehigh Valley Greenways, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Penn Department of Transportation, and Lehigh County Department of Community and Economic Development.
Cunningham has a keen interest in Lehigh County's trail projects.
"Trails are quality-of-life improvements that make communities better and give a sense of regional pride to the people who live here," he said. "In addition, the Corridor is an important piece of Pennsylvania history and tells the story of our industrial and agricultural past."
The county received a $265,000 matching grant from DCNR to construct the new section. Local sources made up the balance.
"Pennsylvania is not only blessed with an abundance of rail trails, it is blessed with a wealth of partners many gathered here at today's dedication that work together so successfully to make our state a national leader in rail-trail projects," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan. "DCNR is proud to support the D&L Trail, and we are not alone. One only has to visit its overflowing parking lots to gauge the popularity of this scenic trail that showcases the wealth of Lehigh County's natural beauty."
The Delaware & Lehigh National and State Heritage Corridor fosters stewardship of historical, cultural and natural resources along the early canal and railroad systems that carried anthracite coal from mine to market in eastern Pennsylvania.