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Carbon County looks to improve Switchback Trail

Published July 08. 2017 09:03AM

Over the years, the Switchback Trail, which is part of the former Switchback Gravity Railroad, has deteriorated and causes challenges to hikers and bikers who visit the area.

The Carbon County Commissioners, who own the trail, want to change that.

On Thursday, Commissioner William O'Gurek announced that the county will be looking at what needs to be done to restore the trail back to its pristine beauty for visitors to enjoy.

"It's a historic piece of property, and all of us know that it has been washed out in places and is in pretty bad shape," he said. "We would like to spend some money out there and get someone in there and put that track back to good use.

"We're at a point in time when there's more hikers and bikers around this county than ever," O'Gurek added. "I think it would be a key part in improving the amenities that the county owns here. … It's a nice part of the county and we will be looking into what we need to do to make that path something really special."

Commissioners' Chairman Wayne Nothstein said that in its current condition, the trail is a safety issue.

The Switchback Trail is a popular destination that provides hikers and bikers a view of history as it climbs the mountain from Jim Thorpe to Summit Hill.

According to the Carbon County website, "the Switchback Trail follows the route of the former Switchback Gravity Railroad and can be accessed near the main entrance to the park. The trail is designated for hiking and biking. Hikers of all ages will enjoy the uneven-aged forest tract below the dam where towering hemlocks, white pines and American beech dominate the overstory.

"The shaded trail runs parallel to the Mauch Chunk Creek and provides easy access for fishing. Mountain bikers enjoy the trail as it leads to Mount Pisgah where there is a magnificent overlook of the Lehigh Gorge State Park."

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