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Towing A Message: Walk a Towpath for Health and Fun

on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 16:11

PRINCETON, NJ - In the early 1800’s, before there were railroads, a network of 1,000 miles of canals moved people and goods which helped build our vibrant northeast. Canals were built nearby with a towpath to enable horses to slowly draw canal boats and barges carrying coal from Pennsylvania to the booming metropolitan areas in New Jersey and New York. Now, plenty of people move themselves faster over these natural highways as pedestrians, runners, equestrians, and bicyclists.

Locally, thanks goes to conservation efforts and the New Jersey State Park System, the Delaware & Raritan Canal continues as a one of the state’s most beloved recreation resources. In a crowded and overdeveloped state, the simple towpath is a miles-long oasis beckoning the over-stressed Jerseyan.

To experience the beauty of the canal and its towpath, FreeWalkers.org – the long-distance walking network – is holding its 2nd annual one-day, 40-mile walk along the D&R Canal between Trenton and New Brunswick called the “Great Canal Walk” on Saturday, April 7, 2012. It’s a free event and open to everyone to encourage the general public to get fit by walking.

As Randi Plevy, Project Leader and resident of nearby Pennington, NJ puts it, “While this area has exploded with commercial growth, we are careful to maintain a balance with our natural environment. The Great Canal Walk is a wonderful way to experience what the canal was, and what a valuable resource it has become. It’s also a way to test your fitness and walking endurance.” The walk offers alternate routes to start and finish for those that strive for less ambitious goals but still want to experience the beauty, interaction and challenge of a long walk.

This walk of 40 miles is a part of the Cross-Jersey Walking Challenge (crossjerseywalk.org) organized by the FreeWalkers and the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) which encourage individuals to walk 100 miles across the entire state each year. These walks promote the greenway, a 3,000-mile route extending from Canada to Key West. By creating and sharing existing trail resources and advancing pedestrian issues, the ECGA strives for a larger national vision of a trail that connects our entire east coast. This pedestrian highway will be made possible through its members and public donations.

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, the national outdoor gear supplier, is the latest vendor to agree to help support these events. Scott Morris, the Princeton store manager, said of the walks, “We’re always happy to help anyone explore the outdoors. Most of our customers use the D&R Canal for a variety of sports. But, there’s nothing like a challenge to motivate you.”

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For more information on the Great Canal Walk visit TR2NB40.org or FreeWalkers.orgFor information on te East Coast Greenway visit greenway.org or, contact Andy Hamilton, ECGA Mid-Atlantic Trails Coordinator, (267) 236-3407 andy@greenway.org. Visit Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Princeton - brms.org or call (609) 921-6078.