One of the best things about the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area is its uniqueness. There is nothing like it locally and, judging by the miles outdoor enthusiasts drive to hit the Northumberland County trails, there aren’t many like the AOAA anywhere nearby.

The AOAA has grown extensively since its opening in 2014, but news that the 8,500-acre adventure area carved out of reclaimed mine lands wants to broaden its reach with a new rock-crawl obstacle course, is exciting. It adds another dimension to the already attractive and unique location.

Thanks to federal funding, AOAA officials are in the midst of a huge project designed to eliminate a mining hazard while creating the rock crawl. It will take 2.8 million cubic yards of dirt to lay the foundation for a 6,600-foot stretch of trail that will feature thousands of boulders. 

Dave Porzi, the operations director for AOAA, said the new outpost will be “extreme.”

“The minimum size (of the boulders are) going to be like a dishwasher in your house. Some will be as big as a school bus,” he said. “Machines are going to break.”

While not ideal for the day drivers, pushing these specialized vehicles to their physical limits is what these drivers want. The tougher — and bigger — the better for these people.

Porzi is hoping naming rights draw visitors from across the nation, including Jeep enthusiasts from the West Coast who want to tackle the course. Porzi said the rock crawl will remain nameless until a rider completes the course. That driver gets to name it.

Work began at the 88-acre site in August. The entire project is expected to take about 2 and a half years to finish, adding to the 8,500 acres at AOAA, which features 375 miles of trails stretched across forest and reclaimed coal lands in Coal, East Cameron, Mount Carmel, West Cameron and Zerbe townships in lower Northumberland County.  

This latest venture, coupled with plans for two hotels near the AOAA, add to success of the location. It has been a financial winner for the county, which benefits from the thousands of passes sold to drivers. The facility grows and changes a bit each year. With more places to stay in Northumberland County, the better it will be for business owners and residents of the county who continue to find ways to piggy-back off the success of this Valley gem.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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