The Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition is a collective group of organization working to complete 1,600 miles of trails in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. This coalition has formed from the prior Power of 32 Initiative starting with 32 counties and expanding to 53. Trails have emerged as regional priority to stimulate regional economies.
In 2014 the former Power of 32+ coalition took on the challenge to re-launch and rebrand this 1,600 mile trail coalition. The region that this network goes through has a lot of unique features, naturally and historically. Along these 1,600 miles of trail you will be able to see the remnants of the industrial revolution, mountains, rivers, urban, and rural settings. This trail network has a lot to offer the trail user. Once completed it will be the largest shared user trail system in North America.
Members of the coalition have worked to identify trail corridors and their gaps to formulate working groups to work to complete those gaps and the 1,600 mile network. The current challenge to completing the last 47% of the 1,600 mile network is 50 gaps equating to roughly 700 miles. The challenges that these work groups currently face are funding, land acquisition, and physical obstacles. The majority of these gaps are less than 15 miles but once complete, can link sections to create long sections of trail.
Currently 53% of the trail system is completed including the notable Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). In a study completed in 2012 the GAP brought over $50 Million of direct economic impact along a 150 Mile trail. The impact from a 1,600 miles of trail would be huge for this 53 county region. In a recent a Trail User Survey, it shows that over half of respondents were first time users on the trail and were planning multiple day trips. Not only will there be economic impacts but also health and environmental conservation impacts as well.