Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
February 13, 2016
Great Allegheny Passage
Great Allegheny Passage
February 13, 2016

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Located in Eastern Pennsylvania, The Delaware and Lehigh Corridor Trail is a 165 mile-long recreational trail that runs the entire length of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.

It’s pristine landscape, historical significance, and cultural contributions to the history of our country have made this area a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Its gorgeous trails and splendid natural features provide an outdoor playground for people, as well as their dogs.

About the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

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[image: Charles Fulton/flickr]

This Heritage Area is 165 miles long and spans 5 counties and includes more than 100 cities and towns in eastern Pennsylvania. Its more than 100,000 acres of land covers 3 main geographical areas: the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley, and Carbon County-Wyoming Valley. Three main waterways meandering through the Area are the Delaware River, Susquehanna River and the Lehigh River.

This area was designated as a National Heritage Area by Congress in 1988. Natural Heritage Areas have been set aside by the government as land for its citizens to enjoy and are chosen based upon their natural, cultural and historical significance.

A more perfect area could not have been chosen for this designation. This area has a rich history, and was influential in the early development of the United States. The trail was an early trade route for Native American tribes such as the Leni Lenape, Iroquois, and Susquehannock.

The region’s large reserves of coal were instrumental to the Industrial Revolution; in fact, this trail follows the path that coal took from the mine to the consumer. The large coal reserves of this area prompted the settlement of new towns and the creation of new industries. Four historically significant railroad systems facilitated the transportation of coal, other goods and people through the region.

What You Can Do Today

Today, the D&L Trail does a great job of connecting people to nature, culture, communities, recreation at the same time giving them a taste of our industrial heritage. There are many things to do when biking or hiking along this passage. One nice part about this trail is that it is divided into many sections, so depending on your mood, the weather, or any other reasons, you can choose to do a small section of the trail, or dive in and do the whole thing in one adventurous weekend.

[image: michelle/flickr]

[image: michelle/flickr]

Some parts of the trail will give you a nice view of small towns along the way, such as the short .3 mile section that takes you through downtown White Haven where you can stop for a snack as you

walk along the sidewalks. Other sections will allow you to see beautiful scenery with a dose of history, such as Seven Tubs-Mountaintop, where you can walk around the river and gaze on a lovely scenic view that displays the Seven Tubs Nature Area. In this area you will be able to see the series of large pools that were carved by early settlers when working the Wheelbarrow Run. Also you can experience the brilliant architecture that the trail provides like the Weissport Pedestrian Bridge that allows you to see all the beauty and fruitfulness that the river provides. You will be able to look down and see the trout-filled canal, the river locks and building remnants, as well as the forested filled mountains.

No matter where you go on this 165 mile trail you will be surrounded by all the eloquent splendor that nature provides. Although your dog might not enjoy the view as much as you do, they are welcome on the entire trail and I can promise you they will love every minute of it. Please note, Dogs must be on leash at all times and must be cleaned up after in most of the corridor. Additionally, you must follow local and state park rules and pet policies.

For more information on everything the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor please visit http://delawareandlehigh.org/

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The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Sections

Seven Tubs – Mountaintop

This section is still in development and will move the beginning of the trail from its current location in Mountaintop to Wilkes-Barre. Although some areas may be passable with a mountain bike, walking in this area with your pooch will probably be best when the trail is completed. The proposed trail will be about 7 miles in length, and will run through a heavily wooded mountain area just east of Wilkes-Barre.

The Seven Tubs Nature area is the highlight of this part of the trail. It covers more than 500 acres, with its most distinctive natural feature being the tubs. These “potholes” were formed by flowing glacial waters over 12,000 years ago. Rare birds, mammals and more than 60 types of wildflowers abound in this area.

The terrain is easy to navigate, and is excellent for the budding outdoorsman – dog and human alike. There are even wheelchair accessible areas along the trail. Some parts of the trail can be hilly and loose moss and rocks can make some areas a bit dangerous, so use some caution in order to avoid losing your footing.

Mountaintop – White Haven

This area, known locally as the Black Diamond Trail, is completed with only a small gap in the trail at Glen Summit due to private property. This 13-mile gently-sloped trail follows an abandoned rail line through an area bursting with bogs, ponds and large trees. The trailhead is wheelchair accessible.

The ground is made of crushed stone, so make sure to have strong mountain bike tires if you ride, and be sure to carry a first aid kit – for both you and Fido. You will pass Moosehead Lake and walk through State Game Lands. Along the way, Recycled Bridge will take you across two active rail lines, so be aware of this if your dog tends to be scared of loud noises.

White Haven – Rockport

This very short section of the trail passes through the streets of White Haven. Down on Main Street, there is a completely restored Union Pacific caboose complete with railroad memorabilia. While in town, visit a local restaurant or shop to load up on supplies, and get a quick snack for you and your pet.

If you need a break from hiking, consider taking a ride along Audubon’s Lehigh Driving Tour. You can purchase a CD or MP3 audio tour to enhance your trip. Follow the 53-mile route of John James Audubon’s 1829 visit to the region, where he studied countless birds and other wildlife species. You will pass through historic towns, and enjoy interesting geological features along the way, while Fido sticks his head out of the passenger window.

If you prefer to continue with your outdoor activities, follow the trail to Lehigh Gorge State Park. This park covers more than 4000 acres, with an 800-foot high gorge being the highlight of its natural features. You and your dog will enjoy waterfalls as well as the easy 26-mile long rail-trail biking path that slopes downhill towards Jim Thorpe. If you don’t want to walk the entire 26 miles south to Jim Thorpe, you can access this park from Rockport, and cut your hiking distance down to 15 miles.

Rockport – Glen Onoko

Once in Rockport, you can follow this 12.6 mile trail down to Glen Onoko. Along the way, you will see abandoned ruins, and spectacular views of the Lehigh River. This trail is best-suited for walking and mountain biking. Railroad enthusiasts can check out the Rockport Tunnel; a 19th century railroad tunnel built through rock. This area is very popular, and parking may be hard to come by on the weekends. This trail is great for the social hiker, with plenty of opportunities for you and your dog to meet new people.

For the nautical enthusiast, the Glen Onoko trailhead also has a boat launch. You and your pooch can take a scenic river tour, and make a pit stop here for hiking, or just enjoy a quiet lunch or cup of coffee in town.

Glen Onoko – Jim Thorpe

This 2.1 mile section links downtown Jim Thorpe to the Lehigh Valley Gorge State Park. Enjoy even more magnificent views of the Lehigh River as you cross the Nesquehoning trestle. This area of railroad track was closed for 31 years, and was reopened in 2004. It allows bikers and hikers to pass safely down the trail, without having to use busy highways.

After your hike, why not spend an afternoon in the historic town of Jim Thorpe? Check out the celebrated Old Mauch Chunk Landing and the Jim Thorpe Visitor Center, built in 1888, for exhibits on coal mining, railroads, shipping, skiing and other outdoor recreation. You and your dog can enjoy an afternoon snack at one of this town’s plentiful cafes and bars.

Jim Thorpe – Weissport

This half-mile section of trail is still in the planning stages. Once completed, a new pedestrian bridge will connect downtown Jim Thorpe to the Weissport trail section; and could possibly be one of the most beautiful areas of the trail. Currently, there is no direct access between these two areas, so you may need to consult with a map to find the safest and best route.

Weissport Section

This 3.6 mile section has been resurfaced recently, allowing for easy hiking and biking along its length. Beautiful views of the Lehigh River, along with access to a canal with stocked with trout, are a fisherman’s dream. Beautiful forests and mountain views are the perfect backdrop for hiking with your pets.

Before leaving Weissport, feel free to enjoy all its historical landmarks. Fort Allen, built by Benjamin Franklin in 1756, was demolished around 1780 but its well still exists today. Weissport also served as a boat-building and commercial center for this area during the late 1800’s and is filled with significant historical sites.

Weissport – Parryville – East Penn

The trail from Weissport to Parryville is about 2 miles in length. Follow the canal back to where it meets the Lehigh River while enjoying its scenic views, and ruins of old buildings. The trail ends at Parryville, and you will need to find a way to cross the river to the Lehighton-East Penn section on your own.

Once on the 4.5 mile Lehighton-East Penn section, use extreme caution, as several parts of the trail are “share the road” areas. Dog owners and families with young children may want to avoid this section. This trail follows a rail-trail along the route of the river and a steep mountainside.

East Penn – Lehigh Gap

Follow this 3.5 mile section along an old railroad bed from the East Penn Boat Launch to Lehigh Gap. This trail boasts excellent views of the Lehigh River and the slopes of the Kittatinny Ridge. This area’s bogs and ponds are filled with fish and waterfowl, and the forests contain a large variety of wildlife. The crushed stone surface of the trail make it excellent for walking and biking along with your dogs.

Lehigh Gap – Slatington

A must-see destination in Lehigh Gap; the Lehigh Gap Nature Center was once a Superfund site. It is currently undergoing restoration in order to return this area to a thriving ecosystem full of plants and animals. It conducts research projects and holds educational classes throughout the year. For the adventurous hiker, The Nature Center is located directly adjacent to a small network of trails that connect to the Appalachian Trail.

After spending time at the Nature Center, hop on the 1.9 mile trail down to Slatington. This trail has a cinder surface, and is perfect for hiking and biking.

Along the route to Slatington, you will pass through the Walnutport section. You can see remnants of locks and canals along the Lehigh River. A peninsula provides breathtaking views of the Lehigh Gap. Wildlife such as muskrat and plentiful fish make this an excellent place to take a short break from hiking. This section is mostly dirt, and is easy to pass on foot or bike.

Slatington – Laurys Station

Why not take in an event at the pavilion located at Slatington’s trailhead. Before leaving, don’t forget to visit the Fireman’s Drinking Fountain. This public drinking fountain was erected in 1909 to honor those that volunteer to keep people safe, and is in the form of a firefighter holding a baby over his shoulder. Then, grab some refreshments and snacks to take on your continued journey out of town.

If you would like to take a detour, the Slate Heritage Trail intersects the D&L Trail here. If not, continue on the 6.9 mile trail to Laurys Station. This isolated trail is located between a steep hillside and the riverbed.

Laurys Station – Northhampton

Travel almost 4 miles along this former railroad bed to enjoy views of the Lehigh River, ruins of mills and forgotten railroad tracks. Catch a glimpse of the plentiful wildlife, while walking or biking on the smooth cinder trail surface.

Northampton – Hanover Canal Park

Before leaving Northampton, take a free tour of the Saylor Park and Cement Industry Museum. This museum, featuring nine giant kilns built in 1892, is dedicated to the Lehigh Valley’s contribution to the development of the cement industry. This region was once one of the world’s largest cement producers.

The land in this area is made of chalk, shale, clay and limestone – the perfect combination of minerals for cement production – which makes for a unique landscape. This part of the trail also offers views of the Lehigh River.

This 3.3 mile dirt path has a smooth surface for riding, but has many obstacles and is not completed. Although many local hikers pass through this area safely, it may be best to avoid bringing your dog along through this area.

Hanover Canal Park – Allentown

Stop for a rest at Hanover Canal Park’s beautiful gazebo and fountain before heading towards Allentown. This 2.9 mile stretch of trail is currently incomplete, but once finished will provide excellent views of the city. To get to Allentown, you must follow city streets.

While in the city of Allentown, make your way towards Easton Area High School and take a stroll down the Lehigh Canal Towpath Trail. This asphalt pathway meanders along the Lehigh River, with views of forests, farmlands, and houses, and will be an easy walk for you and Fido.

Before leaving, visit one of the many museums, concert halls, parks or covered bridges located within the city.

Allentown – Bethlehem

The trail between the two largest cities on the trail is about 4 miles long. It is a quiet dirt path that is smooth and easy to pass on foot or bike. Experience views of the Lehigh River on one side of the trail and a trout-filled canal along the other.

The city of Bethlehem is filled with historical landmarks and contains 6 National Historic Districts. The Bethlehem Department of Parks and Private Property oversees more than 40 recreational areas within the city. There are a multitude of activities for you and your pet including nature trails, fishing, boating, cross-country skiing, and hiking.

After a day of activity in this beautiful city, make your way to the Sand Island Trailhead to enjoy the picnic areas, tennis courts, and boat launch.

Bethlehem – Freemansburg

Leave the Sand Island Trailhead in Bethlehem and make your way towards Freemansburg. On your way down this dirt path, take in the sights of the now abandoned Bethlehem Steel plant. The trail surface is smooth for most of the way, and makes for an easy walk or mountain bike ride. Towards Freemansburg, the trail gets a little rocky, but plans for improving the trail will be underway soon.

Freemansburg – Hugh Moore Park

Before leaving, visit the Freemansburg Canal Education Center and Lock 44 Complex. Here, a restored barn, gristmill, and coal yard originally built in 1829, were brought back to life using the original building techniques and took 10 years to complete.

This 6.2 mile section of the trail was restored by volunteer members of the Old Freemansburg Association. It is completed but has recently received damage from flooding, and some parts of the trail have been washed away. It is passable on foot as long as you use caution, but bikes will probably not make it through. You may want to steer clear of this section whilst traveling with Fido until it can be restored.

If you are adventurous enough to take this unimproved trail towards Hugh Moore Park, you will not be disappointed. This isolated dirt path boasts views of the Lehigh River and abundant songbirds. There are scattered remains of canals and you will pass Island Park and a large dam along the way.

Once you reach the Bethlehem Boat Club, the trail ends for a short time. To continue, head north a short distance to a gravel access road; leading you to the Route 33 boat access. A bit further, you will reach the Palmer Township Bike Path, which runs along an abandoned railroad bed all the way to Riverside Park. From here, cross the 25thStreet Bridge into Hugh Moore Park in the city of Easton.

Hugh Moore Park – Forks of the Delaware

Hugh Moore Park is home to the offices of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the National Canal Museum, which are located inside Emrick Technology Center

This 2.3 mile stretch of canal towpath is smooth and easy to navigate on foot or bike. There are historical landmarks and locks to be seen along the path. The trail ends on the border of New Jersey. Here the Lehigh and Delaware canals and rivers meet, creating spectacular water views. This area was called the “Forks of the Delaware” by the Leni Lenape Indians.

Easton is full of historical significance. It was designed by William Penn, and the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence outside of Philadelphia took place here in 1776, right in the center of town. While in town, visit the country’s oldest open-air market, and pick up some snacks for you and your pooch.

Forks of the Delaware – Wy Hit Tuk Park

This 2.4 mile length of trail leaving Easton is currently closed due to tremendous flood damage. This canal towpath is part of the Delaware Canal State Park. The Delaware Canal State Park includes a 60 mile path (Wy Hit Tuk Park) that runs along the Delaware River between Easton and Bristol. There are more than 10 river islands, a 90 acre pond, beautiful fields and historic towns along this route. The park is full of amenities for the outdoor enthusiast and dog owner throughout the year including boating, rafting, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.

Wy Hit Tuk Park – Ground Hog Lock

Another section of the trail that falls within the Delaware Canal State Park, this 3.4 mile section has some areas that have been damaged by floods. These areas are closed to bikes, but can be passed on foot with caution.

Ground Hog Lock – Tinicum Park

This 14.9 mile section of towpath begins in Laubsville and is also located within the Delaware Canal State park. The Groundhog Lock trailhead contains a restored lock and locktender’s house, and would make the perfect location for an afternoon picnic. The trail has recently been restored after flooding, and is perfect for biking and hiking with your pup.

Stop in Riegelsville, a National Historic District, to explore one of its historical mansions, commercial buildings, and other residencies. The Benjamin Riegel House, an excellent example of a Georgian-style mansion, was built by the town’s founder, and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1986.

As you make your way to Tinicum Park, enjoy the beautiful views from a suspension bridge over the Delaware, similar to San Fransisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Riegelsville also has a boat landing with access to the waterway, for fishing and paddling with your pooch.

Tinicum Park – New Hope

This 14.7 mile length of towpath, again located inside the Delaware Canal State Park, was also recently reopened after flood repairs. Stay a few hours to enjoy the scenery and wildlife of the Delaware River Islands, located in Upper Black Eddy. This area includes 11 islands that are designated as protected natural areas. You will see endangered species and unique geological features, and will have the opportunity to enjoy water activities such as fishing or canoeing.

Before continuing to New Hope, take a detour to Ringing Rocks Park. It has unique boulders that ring like a bell when struck with a hammer. The park also boasts a gorgeous waterfall, and would make a great place to stop for reflection, or enjoy a lunch break with Fido. There are also several trails located within the park that are excellent for mountain biking.

Downtown New Hope, with its old-world charm and hospitality, is full of shops, restaurants and museums, and would make a brilliant place to spend some time before getting back on the trail.

New Hope – Bowman’s Hill

The short trail from New Hope to the Bowman’s Hill Trailhead was also recently repaired after flooding. The 2.3 mile length of towpath is within the boundaries of the Delaware Canal State Park.

The trailhead in Bowman’s Hill is located within a 134-acre Wildflower Preserve. You can see over 1,000 different types of wildflowers, and the countless species of birds and other wildlife that these flowers attract. There are trails within the Preserve, and you can even take a guided tour. Meadows, woodlands, ponds and Pidcock Creek set the backdrop for this beautiful park.

Bowman’s Hill – Washington Crossing

This 4.1 mile length of trail connects the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and Washington Crossing Historical Park. Located within the Delaware Canal State Park, this trail was also recently repaired, and is perfect for a hike with your dog or a mountain bike adventure.

The Washington Crossing Historical Park marks the site where General Washington crossed the Delaware into Trenton during the American Revolution. It is a National Historic Landmark, and contains a museum and countless other structures of historical significance within its 500 acres of land. This spot is a beautiful setting for learning about the history of our country, while enjoying its rich scenery and wildlife.

Washington Crossing – Yardley

Another area recently repaired after flooding, this 4.6 mile section leaves the Washington Crossing Visitor Center towards the town of Yardley. Perfect for hiking and biking, the towpath is part of the Delaware Canal State Park.

Yardley has rich historical significance, and traces its roots as far back as 1862. It was integral to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, and several buildings used as havens for runaway slaves are open to the public. Several other historical buildings, canals and bridges are located within the town.

Yardley – Morrisville

Before heading 4.2 mile path to Morrisville, enjoy a snack within Yardley at one of its many eateries. The trail, recently renovated after flooding, is an easy walk for you and your furry friends. Along the way, stop at the Garden of Reflection, the September 11th memorial dedicated to all who lost their lives in the tragedy, including 17 Bucks county residents.

Located on the banks of the Delaware directly across from Trenton, New Jersey, Morrisville contains the home of Pennsylvania’s founding father; William Penn. Pennsbury Manor has been restored and is open to the public. Many other mansions, theatres and historical buildings are located within this important town.

Morrisville – Bristol

The last stretch of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail connects Morrisville and Bristol, via a 9.1 mile towpath. This area of the trail has several long-term obstructions, and a construction project makes part of the path temporarily impassable. Use caution when hiking with your pooch.

Once in Bristol, the end of the D & L Trail, enjoy your accomplishment, and take in some of the historical significance of the 3rd oldest town in Pennsylvania. Downtown Bristol also has a beautiful gazebo and river-front park. Take in a snack at one of its fantastic restaurants, or relax and enjoy a picnic while overlooking the beautiful Delaware River.

If you and your buddy are not ready to end your hiking trip, take a detour to nearby Silver Lake Nature Center, to enjoy more than 250 acres of flowers, forests, and pristine water features.

The Delaware and Lehigh Trail is one of the longest and most historically significant trails in the Northeast. This area has much to offer for the outdoor enthusiast who enjoys taking their dogs along for the ride. Visit a few trail sections, or start an adventure, and be the envy of your friends as you share your tales from hiking the entire length of the trail.

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