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TAJR named state’s 2024 Trail of the Year

Warren County’s recreation amenities are world class.

The Allegheny River was named the state’s River of the Year earlier this week. The news got better on Wednesday as the Trails at Jakes Rocks were selected as the state’s Trail of the Year. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced the selection on Wednesday morning.

“This amazing trail system is extremely deserving of this tremendous honor and I am excited to announce the Trails at Jakes Rocks have been selected as Pennsylvania’s top trail for 2024,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “People travel from near and far to hike, bike and run these trails, which is a testament to the worthiness of this trail system.

We at DCNR are hopeful that this honor helps connect even more people to the recreation opportunities around the trails, in Warren County and in the Allegheny National Forest.”

“The impact that the Trails at Jakes Rocks has made on Warren County has far surpassed our expectations,” Jim Decker, president/CEO of the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry said. “Locally we have long recognized the unique beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities our region offers and celebrate the catalyst that the Trails at Jakes Rocks has provided to allow us to share these attributes to a much larger audience. We are humbled by this recognition and sincerely thank DCNR for their assistance with our efforts to create this asset as well as the conveyance of this prestigious award to the Trails at Jakes Rocks.”

DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates a Trail of the Year “to help build enthusiasm and support for trails across the state, and to raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network,” according to a statement from DCNR. For local organizers, there’s more to the designation than just the designation. The recognition brings several other benefits, including grant dollars.

“There will be a formal designation event which will include key DCNR representatives held in September hopefully in conjunction with our Trail Fest event scheduled for Sept. 20-22,” Decker told the Times Observer.

There is also a $5,000 grant awarded to support trail education and outreach.

“We are working on developing a trail construction/maintenance session with our professional trail builder as part of our use of grant funds,” Decker said.

He also outlined the exposure this recognition will bring.

“We will be receiving marketing materials from DCNR for use throughout the region,” Decker said, “and will gain significant exposure through the state’s marketing of the designation via their websites, social media, etc.

“Obviously, we will be working diligently with the WCVB, NAMBA and our local business community to push this recognition out as widely as possible.”

State officials recognize that “TAJR has not only created a fantastic trail system but also serves as an economic driver,” the DCNR statement explains. “A recent economic impact analysis found that the TAJR draws over 25,000 users annually and generates an estimated $9M in annual tourism spending.”

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