Long before anyone envisioned a need for a Multi-Modal Study, many West Vincent residents were utilizing an alternative transportation route-the miles of trails that wind their way throughout the woodlands, meadows and stream corridors. Historically, horseback was the mode of choice, with at least three foxhunts literally establishing the well-worn paths on the lands they galloped across for years. Thanks to the generosity of landowners who allowed access to their properties, distance riders could safely cross Route 100 on training rides that took them to Marsh Creek and Warwick Parks. Trails and dirt roads provided scenic routes to the general store that was housed where the Cafe’ is now located, mail was picked up and one long-time resident fondly recalls riding his pony to the Birchrunville schoolhouse every day. The population was small and neighbors enjoyed an idyllic pastime riding and hiking on trails that they believed would last forever.
Suddenly, all that changed in the 1980’s when West Vincent became a target of the housing boom. Perc test holes, boulders and, in some cases, caution tape began to appear, closing trails that had long been taken for granted. Distressed trail users sought some recourse, but found none.
In 1988, a small band of residents formed the Trails Preservation Association, with the goal of working with the County and local government to develop a strategy to protect the township’s unique trail system. This movement was not immediately embraced, so the members began meeting with individual landowners to plead their case. A Recreational Needs survey was distributed to the residents and the number 1 response indicated that trails were the priority. The Board listened to their constituents, the plan to formally protect trails gained momentum and was eventually embraced by the forward-thinking Supervisors who created the Open Space and Recreation Plan of 1992 and ultimately adopted Section 616 of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, which requires developers to protect existing trails through the subdivision process.
Look for the yellow Horse-Shoe Trail blazes
Over the next decade, the Township, the West Vincent Land Trust and French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust embarked on a mission to create a Township Trail Plan, which would create public-access off-road routes of various lengths and experiences. This effort has resulted in numerous segments of trail being permanently protected through easements and open space dedication to the township. Thanks to the generous support of the George and Miriam Martin Foundation and the annual stipend from the township, the West Vincent Land Trust has engaged a consultant to complete the trail plan and work with landowners who wish to protect their trails through an easement purchase or donation, which will ultimately result in the mapping of public trails in various areas of the township.
Our West Vincent Supervisors have responded to the recreational needs of a variety of trail users-hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and nature lovers, to support and advance this ambitious effort. Utilizing the miles of gravel roads, the five miles of the historic Horse-Shoe Trail that passes through the township, pipelines and the permanently protected trails, the long-held vision of an off-road, non-motorized route will soon become a reality.
If you are intersted in permanently protecting a trail on your property or wish to know more about funding for trails or the plan, please contact the township.
Trails connect kids with nature!