Inclined plane trails - A look back...and ahead, one year later

Celebrating the anniversary of one of Johnstown’s hottest outdoor recreation attractions.

Last summer, the Inclined Plane Trails officially opened to mountain bikers and hikers. Spearheaded by Mike Cook, founder of Friends of the Inclined Plane Trails, this unique network of hiking and biking trails weaves along the hillside of the Incline Plane above the Stonycreek River, between Old Westmont and Downtown.

The increasing popularity of the trails over the past year has been an exciting recreational venture for Johnstown, and has seen a measurable economic uptick locally as mountain biking tourists ride the Inclined Plane to the top of the hill before riding down the trails. New downtown restaurants including Gallery on Gazebo, Balance, and Stone Bridge Brewery are proving popular for the mountain biking community.

Cook and his team have been making upgrades to the constructed hiking and biking trails since their opening last summer. Several new projects and amenities along the trail network are currently being planned.

A $1,000 Vision2025 Capture Award matched by approximately $1,000 in fundraised cash have allowed Cook and his team to keep up with maintenance as disasters and natural mountain erosion sometimes damage the trails.

In late May, a tornado touched down in Westmont and caused significant damage to the Incline Plane Trail system. With a “Call to Action” posted to his facebook page and answered by the community, Cook and his team worked hard to fix all of the damaged trail portions that were completed only months prior, and to re-open the trails within a week of the tornado’s landfall.

“There were people that I didn’t realize were interested in the trails who came out and helped with the process, even people from Pittsburgh drove out to help”, said Cook.

Many projects surrounding the trails continue to bring people from the community together.

Cook and other local leaders believe that Johnstown is slowly transforming into a recreational mecca for tourists and locals alike.

According to Cook, the impact of the Inclined Plane Trails has been massive in terms of public perception. The trails continue to draw a lot of attention to the recreational resources available in Johnstown, and offer recreational options for people of all ages – college students, families, the elderly, advanced mountain bikers, and tourists from outside of the region.

Currently, there are major plans being developed to continue expanding the trail network, including a cross-country style biking trail, more intermediate and advanced mountain biking trails, and additional hiking trails along the Incline Plane.

There are also plans to continue improving the current trail network.

“There are always ongoing trail improvements. We look at the trails we built last year and realize that we can refine them even more,” said Cook.

Scenic overlooks over the city and along the trails are being considered, as well. Two potential locations have been identified, according to Cook, including one which offers a tremendous view of the Historic Stone Bridge.

Summing up the impact of the Trails and other related efforts, Cook said, “As a destination for recreation and cultural beauty Johnstown is becoming a well-rounded and diverse city.”

You can stay tuned for event announcements and trail updates by heading to the Friends of the Inclined Plane Trails Facebook Page.