The Greater Blairstown Area has earned designation as an official Appalachian Trail Community, County of Warren officials have announced.
While about 40 such communities exist along the trail, which stretches about 2,180 miles through 14 states, this designation is the first and only official Appalachian Trail Community in New Jersey.
“The Appalachian Trail is a tremendous asset for Warren County and its residents, so it’s very exciting to see our Blairstown Area community selected,” said Warren County Freeholder Director Jason J. Sarnoski.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which boasts about 40,000 active members, created this program to assist communities located within the trail’s 250,000-acre protected greenway with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation.
The program highlights communities that are taking steps to protect their natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
Formed earlier this year, the Blairstown area’s Advisory Committee plans to participate in numerous events throughout Warren County to raise awareness about the trail, educate new visitors about hiking basics, and emphasize the importance of protecting the trail. In addition, the Advisory Committee includes professional educators who already have successfully incorporated the Conservancy’s “Trail to Every Classroom” program into their school’s curriculum.
By preserving and enhancing these communities along the trail, the Conservancy not only aims to make the hike more desirable, but to contribute to the long-term economic health of these destinations.
“Formal designation as an Appalachian Trail Community not only means that the Greater Blairstown Area will be highlighted online, in guidebooks, and on hiking maps, but it will also help us communicate to visitors that we are both trail friendly and hiker friendly,” explained Jeannette Iurato, Vice President of the Greater Blairstown Business Association. “Whether visitors are looking for a hot cup of coffee early in the morning before hitting the trail, or a hearty meal or local craft beer after a long day’s hike, they’ll know they’re always welcome at our Blairstown Area businesses.”
Warren County’s section of trail runs through the Delaware Water Gap, Mount Tammany, and along Kittatiny Ridge, going through Worthington State Forest and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
“It’s one of the nation’s greatest treasures, and its right here in our own back yard,” said Corey Tierney, Warren County Preservation Director.
For those interested in visiting the trail, there are many parking areas and trail heads within Worthington State Forest and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Access can also be found at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mohican Outdoor Center.