Walk down a new trail at Darby Park
People looking for a different activity or an afternoon or evening stroll have a new walking trial at Battelle Darby Creek Park that offers an opportunity to visit a horse training barn and a walk on a horse race track.
Metro Parks, operators of the sprawling park along the Big Darby Creek, has created the walking trail that stretches from the park to West Broad Street (U.S. Route 40) some four miles to the north.
The winding trail that twice crosses Darby Drive goes out of the main park area through land acquired from the famed Darby Dan Farm. It has a porous-type surface with crushed limestone which makes it suitable for bicyclists as well as walkers and joggers.
"We used a permeable or porous-type pavement (limestone) rather than blacktop or concrete since it is in the Darby Watershed and Metro Parks wants to be doing everything to ensure the protecting the quality of Big Darby," said Peg Hanley, spokeswoman for Metro Parks.
The Battelle Darby Creek Greenway Trail is part of a planned 25-mile trail that will connect Prairie Oaks Metro Park to Battelle Darby Creek and on south to Harrisburg. What stands in the way of extending the trail north to Prairie Oaks is the four-lane highway.
"Currently we are studying how to cross Route 40 and hope to have some plans finalized later this year," Hanley said.
Meanwhile people can start at the north end of the parking lot in Battelle Darby Creek Park and wind their way through the park and onto land owned by the Galbreath family. A wooden plank foot bridge crosses over a small creek that meanders through the Oak Savanna not far out of the park.
About a mile and a half out of the park, the trail crosses Darby Drive for the first time, going up and around farm house on the east side of the road. The trail crosses Darby Drive again about another mile and a half north.
The trail now goes past a covered wooden training barn. A note attached at a break in the white fence encouraged trail users to explore. The barn was once used to train horses.
Much work has to be done to restore the barn, but Darby Dan Farm Manager Ashley Hoye says there are plans "to put up time line signage so you can walk through the area and see history."
About a half mile up the trail is the track where horses trained. The small grandstand will be refurbished so trail users can take a break.
Darby Dan Farm is known for 1963 Kentucky Derby winner Chateaugay, 1967 Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion and 1974 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Little Current who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby that year to keep the farm from having a Triple Crown winner. In addition, Darby Dan Farms was home to Roberto, named for the former Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente, who won the 1972 Epsom Derby in England. Galbreath had owned the Pirates.
Metro Parks acquired 1,300 acres of land from Darby Dan Farm to help expand its park system and amenities.
The trail is getting a lot of use as the weather gets warmer, Hanley said. To help with safety issues, neon signs indicating a bike path have been added on Darby Drive.
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