Published on June 07, 2023
Morris County Trail Grant Funds Accessible Path to Nature
Madison Recreation Center Accessible Trail Opens on National Trails Day
Morris County Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw joined Madison Mayor Bob Conley, members of the Madison Open Space, Recreation & Historic Preservation Committee (OSRHP) and others on Saturday to cut the ribbon for a new, ADA-compliant trail.
Known as the Madison Recreation Center (MRC) Accessible Trail, the project was made possible through funding from the Madison OSRHP Fund and the Morris County Planning and Preservation Trail Construction Grant Program.
The paved pathway dedicated on June 3, National Trails Day, invites senior citizens and people with disabilities to enjoy nature and join the community at the Madison Recreation Center. Located near Madison High School, the complex includes playing fields, hiking trails, a rain garden and community garden, all of which can be accessed by the trail.
“National Trails Day is an annual celebration that highlights and promotes the importance of trails in the United States. It’s wonderful to see how thoughtfully constructed this trail is with consideration to the facilities and people it will serve,” said Commissioner Shaw. “Since 2016 when the first trail grants were dispersed, over $4.7 million has been awarded to create over 28 miles of trails in Morris County. The trails help make our vast open spaces more accessible and improve the quality of life for all county residents. The 2023 application window is now open.”
Visitors are invited to walk—or roll—along the six-foot-wide paved pathway through the forested allee, a .53-mile-long loop complete with benches and information kiosks. The trail connects to a footpath located in the wooded section of the park that was installed by Madison Borough in partnership with a local Boy Scout troop and corporate volunteers in 2016.
Access starts from Ridgedale Avenue at the main entrance of the Madison Recreation Complex or via the main parking lot located at the fields. The new trail exists among a handful of accessible trails throughout the county that offer access to nature for members of the community whose circumstances may limit them from fully utilizing the recreational lands.
“The trail was designed to be ADA-compliant with consideration for Madison’s senior citizens and residents who use wheelchairs at the neighboring Rehabilitation Center. It is also in close proximity to historical sites including Summerhill Park, Luke Miller House and Bottle Hill Historic District,” said Denise Chaplick, Director of Park Planning and Development for the Morris County Park Commission.
The MRC Accessible Trail is one of three trails the Morris County Trail Grant program has supported in Madison, with the Commissioners awarding $130,540 in trail grants for this project in 2018. The board also approved $42,400 towards Summerhill Park trail (.93 miles) in 2017, as well as $196,000 towards Memorial Park trail phase 1 improvements (.37 miles) in 2021. To date, $368,940 in grants have funded 1.83 miles of Madison’s trails.
Morris County’s application portal for its 2023 Recreational Trail Construction Grants Program opened in May. In its eighth year, nearly $1.5 million in grants will be available to Morris County’s 39 municipalities for recreational trail purposes.
The county has issued more than $4.7 million to build and enhance a growing network of more than 28 miles of local trails since 2016, after voters overwhelmingly approved dedicating a portion of the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund annually toward recreational trail development.
About National Trails Day
• National Trails Day is an annual celebration that highlights and promotes the importance of trails in the United States.
• The event was first established in 1993 by the American Hiking Society with the aim of increasing public awareness of trails and encouraging their preservation, development, and use.
• Since its inception, National Trails Day has grown in popularity and has become a significant event for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers across the country.
• The event typically takes place on the first Saturday in June and brings together individuals, organizations, and communities to participate in a wide range of activities.
• These activities include trail maintenance projects, guided hikes, bike rides, trail running events, educational programs, and more.
• National Trails Day has played a vital role in fostering a sense of stewardship and appreciation for trails, while also encouraging people to explore and enjoy the diverse landscapes and natural beauty that the United States has to offer.
Photo 1: (l-r) OSRHP Councilmember George Limbach, a happy MRC Accessible Trail visitor, Madison Borough Councilmember Rachel Ehrlich, Mayor Bob Conley, Commissioner Stephen Shaw and Melissa Honohan, Chair of the Madison OSRHP.
Photo 2: (l-r) OSRHP Councilmember George Limbach, a happy MRC Accessible Trail visitor, Madison Borough Councilmember Rachel Ehrlich, Mayor Bob Conley, Commissioner Stephen Shaw and Melissa Honohan, Chair of the Madison OSRHP.
Photo 3: Some new visitors to the MRC Accessible Trail. Commissioner Shaw (far left), Mayor Bob Conley (front center) and Madison Councilmember Rachel Ehrlich (back center).