Patriotic Bike Trails Lead to Gettysburg

by Tom Jolin

Gettysburg is where a key Civil War battle helped to preserve the Union so it is fitting that several significant biking and hiking trails lead to Gettysburg. What are those trails?

The Grand History Trail (GHT) is a 270-mile loop, of which over half is already completed, connecting Gettysburg with Emmitsburg, Frederick, Harpers Ferry, Washington, Annapolis, Baltimore, York, and Hanover.  When completed, bicyclists will be able to travel safely through some of America’s most significant historical locations, with Gettysburg as the crown jewel.  HABPI is working to develop the Gettysburg to Emmitsburg portion.

The September 11 National Memorial Trail was specially aligned to go through Gettysburg, between the World Trade Center and Shanksville, PA, because the trail mission includes  “…connecting other places of resilience and freedom.” This 1300-mile, triangle trail also connects Shanksville and New York to the Pentagon.  The wheels are turning for development. At the 911 Memorial Site in Shanksville, CSX Railroad donated land to continue the trail towards the Great Alleghany Passage. That portion of trail is now under development. In May, the US House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Parks, Forests and Public Lands unanimously, with bipartisan backing, supported the passage of H.R. 2278, an impressive step toward Federal designation for the 9/11 Trail.

The Gettysburg Inner Loop trail system, known as the GIL, is a very important segment of the GHT, that safely gets bicyclist back and forth from Steinwehr to the Historic Gettysburg Train Station.

Most of the western side is completed, as well as some of the east side. The GIL provides hassle free accessibility to our commercial areas. It is good for us locals, as well as tourists.

Gettysburg is where slavery was dealt a mighty blow in America’s long quest to correct the sins of our fathers. The high-water mark of the of the Civil War and slavery is Gettysburg’s backyard and front yard. Millions flock to Gettysburg annually and hear and read Lincoln’s immortal words, “It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced.” This important patriotic lesson surrounds us and our guests. 

The benefits of bike/hike trails to Gettysburg abound. For instance, the Great Allegheny Passage generates $40 to $50 million of revenue to the trail-side communities each year. Closer to home, the York Heritage Trail generates $2.3 million dollars of revenue for its economy every year.

There is no air pollution or noise pollution caused by a bicycle as users enjoy our patriotic history. Bicycling improves our health, building movement into our habits. This is especially good for our children and grandchildren. Bicycling is often referred to as active transportation.

There is a beautiful statement about building trails which says we do it: “for health, wealth (for the community) and joy.” Join  HABPI and our elected officials in supporting the creation of bicycle and pedestrian trails in Gettysburg and Adams County. It is patriotic and will help residents and tourists in many ways.

Tom Jolin is a board member of HABPI who helped to create the organization. He has lived and worked in Adams County most of his adult life.