An agreement is being sought with PPL to donate about 20.6 acres to Palmyra Township (Pike) for the purpose of creating a hiking trail linking Lake Wallenpaupack with Hawley Borough.

An agreement is being sought with PPL to donate about 20.6 acres to Palmyra Township (Pike) for the purpose of creating a hiking trail linking Lake Wallenpaupack with Hawley Borough.
     Downtown Hawley Partnership (DHP) has been working on the proposal for the last couple years. Grant Genzlinger and Richard Briden, members of the DHP Trail Committee, brought an update November 5th to the Township supervisors. The agreement would allow the Township to receive the parcel from the electrical utility company. DHP would expand its Trail Committee to take routine care of the trail, while the Township workers would perform any major upkeep.
      Anthony Waldron, the Township Solicitor and also a Trail Committee member, said that PPL has not made a formal decision but is willing to work with DHP on the plan. The hope is to be able to have the agreement in place by the start of 2014. Grant funding would be sought and preparations made with  possible opening of the trail to the public in 2015.
   A major concern for PPL is that the walkers stay clear of the flowline or its access path, which connects the dam with the power plant at Kimbles. The route selected keeps away from the flowline and for the most part uses an existing logging trail on the ridge in Palmyra-Pike, passing directly behind the Hawley Silk Mill across from the falls.
    It would link with the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail which PPL opened along a short segment of the flowline path in 2010. This trail continues the Wallenpaupack Lake Trail which also opened that year, incorporating PPL's Tafton Dike path and following the shore by Wilsonville Campground and Wallenpaupack Area High School, joining with PPL property by the Environmental Learning Center. This trail was a project of Palmyra Township.
    The continuation on the ridge has been referred to as the "Gorge Trail" and meets up with Cromwell Avenue near the bridge into the Eddy Section of Hawley- across the falls from Ledges Hotel. DHP is working with the Borough on a short continuation through town to the Riverside Park flood dike trail, leading eventually to Bingham Park.
     In a proposed, later phase, the trail would follow D&H Canal towpath and Route 6 right-of-way to the D&H Canal Park in Palmyra-Wayne. Genzlinger told The News Eagle that the committee has not yet approached Palmyra-Wayne about the project because PennDOT still needs to be consulted about how and if the right-of-way plan would work. He said that the path would not encroach on anyone's private property.
      The entire route would extend more than four miles.
      Waldron said that PPL does not want to transfer the parcel until after the overhead lines are installed on the upgraded power line, which probably will occur next fall. Handicapped accessibility was also asked. Genzlinger said that most of the Gorge Trail would not be suitable for the handicapped but near the end in Cromwelltown, there is a relatively flat spur that provides a wonderful view opposite the Ledges. Handicapped parking could be made off Cromwell Avenue.
   Justin Hoffmann of Kiley Associates prepared a plan about a year ago. The parcel will need to be surveyed. Costs of the survey and other aspects were discussed, and the possibility of seeking a state grant. Hawley Borough has offered use if their grants consultant James Martin.
   Waldron suggested that an option agreement may be best, which allows the landowner to commit to the transfer contingent on funding provided to make the project work.
   Discussion is leaning towards keeping the existing trail natural rather than lay down a surface such as  wood chips. There is also hope a state storm water permit might not be necessary if it is shown more than an acre of land has not been disturbed (excavated). This might be possible by keeping the trail in its natural state.
    Genzlinger stated it is a very pleasant hike and walkable the way it is. There is also potential to make use of  a spot offering a fabulous view of the Paupack Falls and rock gorge opposite the Hawley Silk Mill. Some sort of protective fence may be necessary, perhaps like what is seen at Child's Park or Bushkill Falls. In the early 20th century, there was a bridge from the Silk Mill for factory workers to reach this site, to picnic or play ball.
    Supervisor Eric Ehrhardt suggested for a second access crossing the creek to the trail from Route 6, for maintenance workers. This proposed access would have to be gated. The Township hopes grant funds would allow purchase of a Bobcat vehicle to use on the trail.
    Waldron offered to draft an agreement and find out PPL's specific concerns, in time for the Dec. 3rd Township meeting.
    Palmyra Township-Pike supervisors meet on the first and third Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Township offices off Gumbletown Road.