We lost one of the champions of Circuit Trails last week, former Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo. If you looked at a trail map of Eastern Pennsylvania 20 years ago you probably couldn’t imagine walking or cycling on a well-maintained trail from Bristol to the Poconos. You can credit Elissa for making that experience a reality today.
For several years she served on the Circuit Trails steering committee and oversaw miles of trails being built including the Mansion House Bridge in Jim Thorpe, connecting nearly 60 miles of trail between Glen Summit and Northampton Borough. Closer to home, Elissa cut the ribbon on 4 Circuit Trails projects, piecing 10 miles of trail between Bristol and Morrisville. These were segments where the canal towpath was chopped up by highway builders and the railroads in the 1950’s.
Based on the model for the Circuit Trails Network, Elissa helped form a coalition of trail and conservation partners to establish THE LINK trail network in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The LINK Trails and the Circuit Trails are interconnected by the D&L Trail. She was a huge proponent of the Circuit and served on the Steering Committee in the before times, when she faithfully travelled several hours into Philly to attend meetings. Her calm nature and strategic mind helped guide the Circuit Trails Coalition Steering Committee for multiple years.
Before the D&L she was the Co-Owner of Blue Mountain Sports, a multi-sport outfitter that rented bikes and ran bike shuttles on the Lehigh Gorge Trail. During that time she led one of the first Main St Programs in the US. Making Jim Thorpe’s classic downtown a regional destination.
D&LNHC continues its great work under the direction of its current Executive Director, Claire Sadler, with several active projects closing the final gaps in the Lehigh Valley and the northward expansion towards Wilkes-Barre.
Last year, a section of the D&L MP 105 and 106 which includes the bridge in Jim Thorpe was dedicated as Elissa’s Mile.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider donations to the D&L trail in Elissa’s honor. Contributions can be made online at: delawareandlehigh.org/support/donate/ noting “Elissa” as the tribute. They can also be directed to the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Inc. (DLNHC), 2750 Hugh Moore Park Road, Easton PA 18042 with the note “Elissa”.