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EAST BRADFORD — For West Chester University students who rarely venture off North Campus, there is new incentive to do so after the university had its official ribbon cutting for a new trail located on South Campus.
The new “Recreation Trail” is about 1.3 miles in length and ventures through some relatively untouched land.
“It’s up and down and through the woods and through open fields,” said Richard Przywara, executive director of the University Student Housing at West Chester University. “You get a little bit of everything.”
Przywara would know as he was one of the people who originally walked through to layout the trail — which coincidentally, was quite a challenge.
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“A piece of (the trail) follows a traditional deer path, but there were some sections we had to walk through and go, ‘This looks like it will be the safest and best,’” he said. “Well, until we hit the two little stream crossings and then we had to figure out where to do that. We now have two little bridges.”
Along the way, there are little signs to teach the walker/runner some history behind the area or what they’re looking at.
One of those things is a polishing pond, which the trail goes around.
“It’s a feature to help with stormwater,” Przywara said. “Up on the hill is a stormwater basin that takes all the runoff from the apartment buildings and the streets and filters it and feeds a whole section where it continues to clean out pollutants and anything heavy. It also allows the temperature to get up to the point that natural rain water would be when fed into a stream.”
The trail is just a simple mulch pathway and is modeled after some well-known trails, especially one Przywara is quite familiar with.
“We modeled this after walking on the Appalachian Trail,” he said. “You get out and walk in the wilderness and sometimes there would be a simple, wooden passageway. It’s not meant to be overly built because we want to have a minimal footprint and a minimal impact on the environment that we’re in. It’s something that is clearly identifiable, yet at the same time, not 30-feet wide and chopping trees down. We followed the natural path that was here as best as we could.”
The trail has been in the works for a few years, ever since the East Village Apartments were built across from John A. Farrell Stadium.
“We really wanted to think about a resource to be available not just to the students, but the community at large,” Przywara said. “Walking is such a great form of exercise. All the research shows it. It’s great to be out here walking around in Chester County. It opens up a piece of our grounds that people would never see otherwise.”
Parts of the land running alongside the trail, as part of the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area, is off-limits, with a fence line keeping people out.
“Dr. (Gerard) Hertel has some areas staked out that he has been researching for over 30 years,” Przywara said. “This is some original growth and woods, so we were careful not to disturb his area.”
The entrance to the new trail is located at the corner of South New Street and Tigue Road.
All are welcome to walk or run the path and pets are also permitted, as long as they are on a leash.
“You go through there and it’s just an oasis of growth,” Przywara said.