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 2001 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 an eleven-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 termini in Luzerne, PA and Dallas, PA, and the Black Diamond Trail, which connects the Lehigh Gorge Trail to the Mountaintop Trailhead parking area. 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 and will trace and celebrate the anthracite history of our area, from mine to market.
In total, between ASTA’s board and two trail councils there are over twenty 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: