Trail Closure Update
The Back Mountain Trail is now open.
Anthracite Scenic Trails Association
The Anthracite Scenic Trails Association (ASTA) is a non-profit all-volunteer group of trail supporters who, with the inspiration of Judy and David Rimple, joined together twenty-five years ago to promote the acquisition, preservation and conservation of abandoned and out-of service railroad rights-of-way in Luzerne County. The conversion to “rails-to-trails” was initiated in 1996 with the construction of 2.2 miles of the Back Mountain Trail, providing bicyclists and pedestrians safe access through the Route 309 corridor between the Wyoming Valley and the Back Mountain communities. ASTA continues to own and develop trails in southern Luzerne County, as well, making the statement that “all trails lead to Wilkes-Barre” become a reality.
We are made up of a nine-member volunteer board of directors charged with the administration and oversight of ASTA’s operations. We also have two volunteer trail councils that maintain the trails – the Back Mountain Trail Council and the Mountaintop Trail Council. ASTA’s two primary trails are the Back Mountain Trail, which has terminuses in Luzerne, PA and Dallas, PA, and the Black Diamond Trail, which is located in Mountain Top. In addition to these trails, ASTA owns the recently developed Rimple Loop trail/extension of the Back Mountain Trail, and larger land holdings in Mountaintop that will be developed as part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (“D&L”). When completed, the D&L will run from Wilkes-Barre to Washington Crossing, PA and be the largest trail in Pennsylvania at 165 miles that traces and celebrates the anthracite history of our area, from mine to market.
In total, between ASTA’s board and two trail councils there are 17 people who give their time and talent to ensuring the growth and success of the organization and its trails. There are also dozens of other partners and volunteers who assist with trail cleanups, fundraising and other critical activities. It is truly a labor of love for the benefit of our communities here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Some of the benefits of community trails include:
- Health and Wellness
Trails create healthy recreation opportunities and transportation corridors for the public. This is absolutely critical for our area, as Luzerne County continues to struggle with health problems and the associated costs.
- Access to Nature
They provide citizens with access to natural environments with minimal impact, which in this particular case would involve the Susquehanna River, river lowlands, fish and wildlife.
- Landscape Preservation
Trails preserve and help restore green space and natural landscapes, making communities more attractive and livable.
- Habitat Preservation
They provide needed links between fragmented habitats, help protect plant and animal species and help to improve air and water quality.
- Historic Preservation
They help preserve historical features and resources and make connections to local history. As noted above, a central part of the D&L Trail is telling the story of anthracite coal mining in this region and how mining impacted downstream markets.
- Economic Opportunities
Trails provide tremendous economic opportunities through tourism, improving neighborhoods and property values, visits to businesses located near the trail, and attracting companies to communities that have amenities like a trail network.