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The Rails to Trails Committee started in 1998 under the Greater Hazleton Civic Partnership, newly formed that year under the auspices of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce. The committee’s goal was to find and develop a public hike and bike trail along abandoned rail beds left over from the coal era. Volunteers hiked every two weeks in good weather all over lower Luzerne County as well as parts of Carbon and Schuykill Counties and came up with five possible routes from the Hazleton area to the Lehigh River and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
In 2000 the Civic Partnership hired the Rails to Trails Conservancy to do a feasibility study. The result of that study was a route from East Broad Street Hazleton along the old DS&S rail bed across the Stockton road along the Dreck Creek Reservoir onto the N&S line near Ashmore as Phase I. Phase II route starts near Ashmore and continues near Hazle Brook and into the historic mining town of Eckley. Phase III will be a route from Eckley to the D&L National Heritage Corridor near Rockport. The approximate total length of the trail is 16 miles.
The first phase, 4 miles in length, from Rt. 93 E. Broad St. Hazleton to the Ashmore area was completed in 2005 with the grand opening in May with public hike and bike event with a community picnic. The second phase has been completed from Ashmore to Hazle Brook, making the trail about 6 miles in length. Surveying and planning is underway for Phase III of the trail construction which will connect the trail to Eckley Miners' Village.Phase IV will connect the trail to the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail. Funding has come from state and county funds with local matching from community groups and volunteer fundraisers.
Location of Trail: One mile beyond Hazleton General Hospital on Rt. 93 (E. Broad St.) on the left after St. Luke Manor and just before the Arthur Gardner Parkway (southern beltway). A paved entrance leads to a large parking lot for 25 cars. Current trail length about 6 miles. Phase III of trail construction is underway to connect GHRT with Eckley Miners Village.
Feel free to download a copy of the Trail Brochure with map as pictured above for your reference. Brochures are also provided at the Trail Head Kiosk.