HOLIDAY — West Pasco trail options just increased for locals who enjoy getting outside to walk, jog and bike.

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey and other county representatives celebrated the opening of the Coastal Anclote Trail with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 30. COVID-19 caused the event to be limited in size, but the moment was recorded and broadcast online.

“This trail is going to give the citizens of Holiday and Southwest Pasco a new, safe place to walk and bike while enjoying some of our beautiful county parks and preserve properties,” Starkey said.

The trail, which splits off in different directions at two locations, is a total of 4½ miles, according to Sam Beneck, a project manager with Pasco County. It’s a 12-foot-wide, paved pathway that reaches as far as Strauber Memorial Highway to the north, Anclote Boulevard to the south and Anclote River Park and Anclote Gulf Park to the west.

“The construction budget for this project was $3.3 million and we will finish under budget,” Beneck said.

Work on the Penny for Pasco-funded project began with a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 6, 2019. The county received assistance from Duke Energy in constructing the trail, as well, Starkey said. Some of the path is on Duke Energy property and other areas were acquired as part of the county’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program, or ELAMP.

“(ELAMP) is intended to acquire and preserve high-quality and natural habitats throughout Pasco County,” Beneck said. “This is a great piece of property and the trail is a recreational activity that is consistent with the goals of the ELAMP program.”

According to the county’s website, project managers designed the trail to have “as minimal an impact as possible on its surroundings.” Some invasive species were eliminated during construction and some trees were cut back, the website states, but much of the trail has shade from tree canopies.

Users of the Coastal Anclote Trail will soon be able to travel on a fully paved pathway to North Pinellas, Starkey said, when Tarpon Springs completes another segment, the Elfers Spur Trail.

“This trail is going to provide a safe connection for the students at Anclote High Schools, Paul R. Smith Middle School and Gulfside Elementary,” Starkey added.

In addition to added recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, Starkey said the existence of trails can be a sign of an area’s vitality and vibrancy.

“Trails can be a great economic development driver for the areas around it,” she said. “There are great reasons to have a trail around where you live, work or play.”

Revitalizing West Pasco and the U.S. Highway 19 corridor, in particular, is a goal for Starkey and the County Commission. The trail’s opening is one of a few positive happenings around Holiday, including the purchase of the Holiday Mall this year by Wesley Chapel-based development company MGold Properties.