Union County Looks to Draw Bikers, Hikers with New Plan

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Union County leaders announced Tuesday afternoon a plan to create a new authority to take over Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.

Commissioners say they are hopeful they will be able to make Union County a destination for tourists who want to hike and bike.

The rail trail is a nine-and-a-half-mile stretch that connects Mifflinburg and Lewisburg.

"My wife and I were just on it last Sunday, rode up to Mifflinburg and back. It's beautiful. It's gorgeous,” said Commissioner John Mathias.

The stretch has been a popular spot since it was converted into a trail in 2011.

"It would be great for biking, rollerblading, stuff like that. It's nice, nice to walk the dog, too,” said Christopher Jervey of Lewisburg.

Right now, the trail is owned by Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority. Folks there say they depend on donations to maintain the trail.

"It's really nice. It's got some shady areas and some sunny areas,” said Stacey Reich of Dewart.

County leaders are hoping to expand the trail, work on other trails, too, and make the area a draw for tourists looking to bike, hike and run in a scenic area.

"It sounds good to me. I mean, we leave Union County to go hiking and biking other places, so I like the idea of being able to do it right here,” said Ian Bower of New Berlin.

In order to make the plan a reality, Union County commissioners plan to approve a hotel room tax increase from three percent to five percent. They say that would bring $140,000 a year to help maintain the trail.

"We have a commitment of three members of the board. We've already talked to some hoteliers in the area about the increase who seem to be supportive of it. They see that the bike trail is already bringing people to the county,” said Commissioner John Showers.

Commissioners plan to vote on the tax increase by the end of July.