It’s been a banner year for bikers, walkers and joggers in the Lehigh Valley with quite an impressive list of new and improved trails available. Most of which have occurred along the popular D&L Trail (Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor).
Easton has widened and paved a section of the D&L Trail which was really beat up for years from near the 3rd Street Bridge to the canal crossing at Hugh Moore Park. Also, slightly over a ¼-mile paved section now connects the trail from the Hugh Moore Bridge over the Lehigh River to Riverview Park eliminating travelling on busy Lehigh Drive.
These accomplishments now allow one to go from the Delaware River to the Route 33 Boat Launch parking area in Bethlehem Township on paved surfaces; a distance of over 5 miles.
Repairs continue along the Delaware Canal Towpath section of the D&L in the vicinity of the sewer treatment plant south of Easton; there damage was caused by flooding. Also, construction of flood repair work at Lock #12 in Lumberville, Bucks County has started.
Plus, construction continues on the neglected and storm ravaged 1.5-mile section of the D&L Trail (Lehigh Canal Towpath) in Freemansburg. That project is expected to be finished by early November.
A new 2.5-mile section of trail links East Penn Township to Lehighton. Parking is available at the small Marvin Gardens Park in West Bowmans, on the north side of Route 895 (E. Lizard Creek Road) just west of the Lehigh River and a mile north of the East Penn Boat Launch. There are no signs at the present time, but go down the hill from the parking area and turn left at the cul-de-sac onto the gated trail. There is also a trailhead in Lehighton on Lehigh Drive on the river side of Route 209 near the Lehighton treatment plant.
Thus, it is now possible to ride the D&L from the Cementon Trailhead off Route 329 in Whitehall Township to Lehighton paralleling the Lehigh River for over 18 miles.
The D&L then continues across the Lehigh River from Lehighton by crossing the bridge on Bridge Street off of Route 209 into Weissport. The Weissport section follows the canal towpath 3.5 miles to a dead end at a waste water treatment plant, across the river from Jim Thorpe. The first 2.7 mile section north of the Weissport Trailhead is in good condition for biking and walking. The rest of the trail to the wastewater treatment plant, 0.8 miles is bikeable and walkable but with a more rugged surface. Currently, there is no access to Jim Thorpe or points north. A proposed pedestrian bridge to link this section with downtown Jim Thorpe is in the planning stages which would then connect to the 26-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail, which is also part of the D&L Trail. An additional 13-mile section of the D&L, locally known as the Black Diamond Trail is also open and runs from White Haven towards Mountaintop.
Once the American Parkway Bridge over the Lehigh River near Kimmets Lock is finished Allentown is expected to begin work on its section of the D&L Trail from Canal Park in the city towards Hanover Township where Lehigh County, the township and the Borough of Catasauqua will work on improving the existing rough trail.
The Palmer-Tatamy Trail originally 2.5-miles, became a mile longer with the addition of a paved section from Penn Pump Park south to behind the Easton Arts School at the Binney & Smith Palmer Plant. (From there you can now head up to Hacketts Park and then access the Wilson Trail and then the Palmer-Bethlehem Township Trail and then the D&L which can take you east to the Delaware River or west to Allentown.) Eventually, the Palmer-Tatamy Trail which runs along the Bushkill Creek will head farther south and meet up with the 2.5-mile Karl Stirner Arts Trail at 13th Street in Easton and will also extend north from Main Street in Tatamy and connect to the 7-mile Plainfield Township Recreational Trail near Stockertown. Construction is already under way at the Route 191 crossing near Route 33 in Stockertown.
Also, the cindered Bushkill Trail recently opened and links Jacobsburg State Park to a trailhead located on Route 512. It is approximately two miles long, starting at the intersection of Keller Road and Belfast Road. The first 1,000 feet or so are in Jacobsburg State Park then continues north along a PPL right of away which was also once a Lehigh & New England Railroad line. A small parking area is located across from the start of the trail on Belfast Road near Sobers Run. There are also close to 20 miles of shared trails used by hikers, all-terrain bikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers at Jacobsburg.
Lastly, the final phase of the 8-mile Saucon Rail Trail was just completed a few weeks ago and the trail now goes from Hellertown, through Lower Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township and ends at Southern Lehigh Living Memorial Park in Coopersburg. Future plans are to expand the trail into Bethlehem’s Southside Greenway which runs between East Third and East Fourth streets from South New to East Sixth streets. Bethlehem plans to extend the greenway from East Sixth Street to Auburn Street in spring. After that ¾-mile section is complete the city is hoping to extend the trail through Saucon Park and connect to the Saucon Rail Trail.