Appalachian Trail names Delaware Water Gap a best friend

Delaware Water Gap, PA made official June 28,2014 an identity embraced for decades by its citizens and the Appalachian Trail hikers they welcome.

The borough was named an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservacy, which has designated about 35 towns so far for their proximity to the trail and support for it. Delaware Water Gap is the fourth AT Community in Pennsylvania. The initiative brings together officials and area business leaders to promote connections between the trail and nearby towns.

Chuck Cooper, owner of Edge of the Woods Outfitters, who grew up in town, said he felt a connection to the trail from childhood that continues now as he sells gear and supplies for hikers.

The Rev. Karen Nickels, former pastor at the Church of the Mountain, said some townspeople were a little unsure of the bedraggled and sometimes “odiferous” strangers who passed through in the 1960s and 1970s without the same gear as today.

The church founded the first hostel on the Appalachian Trail, offering showers and a rest. The town embraced the hikers and looked to aid and welcome them, but not capitalize on them, Nickels said, with free movie nights and trail maintenance.

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