The Great Allegheny Passage has taken this region by storm:
- An estimated 800,000 trips are taken on the GAP annually.
- Over $40 million in direct annual spending is attributed to trail user spending.
- Trail-related businesses pay out $7.5 million in wages each year to accommodate trail generated business.
- Since 2007, there’s been an overall increase of 54 new and expanded trail-serving businesses, creating 83 new jobs in eight communities.
- The trail has been named one of the country’s best bike trails and has been covered by National Geographic Adventure, New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and USA Today.
The Trail Town Program® is an economic development and community revitalization initiative working in “Trail Towns” along the Great Allegheny Passage. The program’s purpose is to ensure that trail communities and businesses maximize the economic potential of the trail.
The program also works to address trail-wide issues and opportunities through regional cooperation and to build the connection “between trail and town,” so that there are safe and well-marked routes into the towns.
We work extensively in nine communities, and offer basic services in other trail towns along the GAP. Program staff works with local and regional partners toward the vision of a corridor of revitalized trail-side communities that reap the economic benefits of trail-based tourism and recreation.
The Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA), with funding from Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and planning and fund raising help from The Progress Fund, developed the Trail Town concept in the early 2000s. That marked the pairing of the ATA (a coalition of trail organizations that built the GAP) with The Progress Fund (a non-profit lender to travel and tourism businesses that now operates the Trail Town Program®). The program launched in January 2007, and expanded to western Maryland in 2009.
- Retain, expand, and increase revenues of existing businesses
- Recruit sustainable new businesses
- Facilitate collective action by the Trail Towns to create a world class recreational destination
- Improve the buildings and infrastructure in each town to create a visitor friendly destination
These partners financially support the Trail Town Program®:
Appalachian Regional Commission of Maryland
Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
Richard King Mellon Foundation
An Anonymous Foundation
The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, Inc.
PA Department of Community and Economic Development
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
The Student Conservation Association
Others have provided specific project support, including:
Community Foundation of the Alleghenies
Community Foundation of Fayette County
Fayette County Tourism Grant Program
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency
Somerset County Rails-to-Trails Association
Somerset County Tourism Grant Program
The Sprout Fund
Westmoreland County Tourism Grant Program