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Marketing group touts scenic trail

March 04, 2011

A new effort to promote heritage and adventure travel has formed among the region's destination marketing organizations and related groups focusing on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHT).

Since first proposed in 1974, the PHT — one of only 11 national scenic trails — has grown to include 830 miles of locally managed trails and routes encompassing outdoor adventure, heritage attractions and historic sites. The network includes multi-use trails, including the Great Allegheny Passage, C&O Canal Towpath and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail; a Civil War Defenses of Washington route; various trail segments in Northern Virginia; and bicycling routes in southern Maryland and on the northern neck of Virginia. Waterways and nearby communities complement trail experiences.

The PHT Marketing Network combines the tools of landscape interpretation and regional marketing to promote sustainable tourism, events and outdoor activities.

Network advisers include Linda McKenna Boxx, Allegheny Trail Alliance (Great Allegheny Passage); Michael Dreisbach, Mountain Maryland Trails and Garrett Trails Association, Maryland; Franklin Holley, RC&D, Southern Maryland; Lisa Hull, Northern Neck Tourism Commission; Jane Levey, Cultural Tourism DC; David  Lillard, C&O Canal Towpath, West Virginia; Tom Riford, Hagerstown-Washington County CVB; and Liz Shatto, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.

The network will focus on the Potomac Heritage Explorer website, www.potomacheritage.net, which will provide travelers with information about destinations and tourism providers.

The itinerary-based site integrates interpretive themes such as industrial heritage, natural beauty, transportation history and battlefields that connect all counties within the corridor.

Lillard, a writer and consultant on the PHT for many years, serves as editor.

The marketing network will soon add to the site itineraries and events for visitors to explore Civil War-related sites and battlefields in preparation for the four-year-long sesquicentennial celebrations that will be held throughout the PHT corridor.

Among several Washington County items of interest, the website includes Cycling Through Hancock, Exploring Williamsport, Jaunt through Maryland History, A Night on the Canal and Explore Fort Frederick.

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