Candy. Cheese. Toys. A Day on the Amish Trail | News, Sports, Jobs

Spent an afternoon on the Amish Trail last weekend which was a lovely thing to do on a day when the sun had finally decided to show up for spring.

And the truth is, there’s no better place than on a country road in the spring. This is true all over the world. Back roads near Randolph take you through checkerboard fields where things are just starting to wake up, and there’s a kid riding a pony there, and the trees are waking up here, and the breeze is gentle and has already forgotten the winter, and people stand outside as if returning from Mars, rubbing their eyes in the sun and emerging from their dark cocoons in the newness of a beautiful day.

Country roads. The Amish Trail offers some great ones.

I hadn’t hiked the Amish Trail until last weekend and thought it was lovely, although I have a few suggestions to make it more tourist friendly. But like a weekend drive in the sun, what a wonderful way to spend a day.

Turns out the thing we did the most on the trail was eating: candy, cheese, and chicken wings. I loved the local toy store, but spent more time playing with a puppy than with unique, handcrafted toys. There’s a big rocking horse in the shop that’s attached to the ceiling with ropes and I’ve been taking a ride on it since no one has reminded me of my age lately. At least, I reminded my mother, it wasn’t a mechanical bull.

I had read reviews of the Amish trail on Trip Advisor before going and had to agree with a few of the reviews that felt the trail was a bit confusing and difficult to navigate at times. There are signs, yes, but if you have no idea what you’re doing it’s possible to get lost. Signage should be posted bearing in mind that a tourist has absolutely no idea where they are and may even regularly get lost two miles from home.

The Amish Trail website provides a map and a list of stores, but it’s not easy to combine this information in a way that helps you plan a viable route. And you really have to know how to read a map because your GPS is not always reliable on secondary roads. It took me a while to find my way around.

Having worked in the travel industry for two decades, I know people want to go on an adventure with confidence and I think the Amish Trail website could build that confidence. I suggest offering two or three workable itineraries that people can print out and take with them that are very, very detailed. A route could be called, for example, “Half Day Itinerary” for those who only have a few hours. You would write the itinerary in a conversational and friendly way, like “Start at Randolph on the corner of these streets, have lunch at one of these four restaurants, then turn left here to visit the next three stores.” You can also offer a full day route or routes that start at different starting points on the trail.

A fortnightly website update could give information about specific stores or restaurants through a blog post detailing their offerings, some photos, their history, what makes it special, and their hours and addresses. After two years or less, you’d have a blog post about every store and restaurant on the trail. It would help tourists to plan. You can also offer a survey to identify areas for improvement and better understand what people really liked.

Just food for thought.

The trail is a local treasure and I am impressed with the people who created it and put in the time and effort to make it accessible. Sharing culture is a way to preserve what makes our region special. This trail is a gem.

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About Ethel Partin

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