The Karl Stirner Arts Trail’s journey began when the state of Pennsylvania awarded the city of Easton and Lafayette College a $9 million grant. Of that grant, $2 million was designated for the improvement of the scrubby, neglected 1.5-mile stretch of land adjoining the Bushkill Creek. The city and its citizen trail committee spent the next few years developing a plan.
Easton visionary and advocate Dick McAteer and friends had a radical idea: Beyond providing outdoor recreation, the trail could feature art in a setting of natural beauty. An arts advisory council was established to bring this to fruition. Easton Mayor Sal Panto named the planned trail after Karl Stirner, a prominent sculptor (1923–2016) and one of the city’s most influential champions of the arts.
In spring 2011, the city finalized the trail design, and the Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT) opened to the public that fall. Willie Cole’s Grace Gate was the first piece designed for the trail, serving as a symbolic and walking passage between the trail and Easton Cemetery. Stirner’s iconic red arch, Untitled (Arch for the KSAT), was installed under his guidance in 2014. In 2016 the KSAT incorporated and was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit status by the IRS. Today the trail presents the sculptures and installations of more than 20 artists, a tribute to creative and natural beauty.