by Jonathan Weaver
While the City of Parker already has the distinction of being the “Smallest City in the USA,” it will receive another noteworthy honor for local hikers Saturday.
At 10AM Saturday, the city will be named the first “Trail Town” by the Butler Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.
Former Butler Chapter President Dan Mourer designed the trail section that runs through Parker and was along the route for about three hours Tuesday preparing for Saturday morning’s dedication.
“As you come across northern-Butler County, Parker is the only town the trail goes directly into. (The designation) will especially give the long-distance hikers a place if they wanted to go to the grocery store, stop at a restaurant and have lunch, there’s a bank there – that’s what the ‘Trail Towns’ are for: to give the hikers a place they could stop and resupply or start or stop a hike,” Mourer said.
Mourer – who recently retired from the United States Postal Service and hopes to dedicate even more time to the trail – said it has taken volunteers and work crews a few summers to develop the trail, and some organizations.
“Parker area has been done for at least five years, and lots of it for 15 years, but this year, we worked on areas farther west in Butler County,” Mourer said.
Some future “Trail Towns” might include West Sunbury and Wampum (Beaver County).
The Chicora resident and his wife, Peggy, last year hiked the first few miles of the trail in North Dakota, and they have also on sections of the trail in New York and Ohio. His sons and their families also enjoy the outdoors.
“The North Country Trail is just for hikers – although sometimes we piggy-back on bike trails, which as you leave Parker heading east, it piggy-backs on (the Allegheny River Trail),” Mourer said.
About 35 of the 45 trail miles in Butler County are off-road and in woods or fields.
The dedication will be held just north of the Veterans Memorial Bridge on the Armstrong County-side. Light refreshments will be available, and short hikes will be led by association members.
“We will have several State and local officials there, so we’re hoping that anybody who’s interested in the trail will show their support so we can continue with other projects,” Mourer said.
The trail overall runs about 4,600 miles from North Dakota to upstate New York.