AT BIKEOUT: NEW HOPE, ATTENDEES HAVE A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE D&L TRAIL, A NEARLY COMPLETE, 165-MILE MULTI-USE PATH THAT CELEBRATES THE REGION’S DEEP HISTORY, AND IS HELPING TO REINVIGORATE THE COMMUNITIES ALONG THE WAY.
Over the past 31 years, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor has been working to complete the trail, from Bristol, outside of Philadelphia, to Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, to help tell the story of how the industrial revolution was fueled by coal, lumber and steel that was transported along a once vibrant canal system.
National Heritage Corridors are a type of National Park, meant to preserve the history and legacy of a particular region.
“We’ve been working to allow people to go through the footsteps of history,” said Brian Greene, a trails program manager at the organization. “They’re able to connect to that history and see how this part of Eastern Pennsylvania has changed, and how it’s stayed the same.”
And as Greene puts it, the trail is helping to reinvigorate the communities along the trail.
“Trails are amenities that are good for people’s health, good for quality of life, and help attract business and create economic development,” he said.
First used as footpaths by the Lenni-Lenape tribe, which followed the Lehigh and Delaware rivers, the canal and its towpaths were built in the 19th century to transport anthracite coal from mines in Pennsylvania’s coal country to Philadelphia and other places along the coast.
At Bikeout: New Hope, attendees will see only one section of a much longer trail path, with its own distinct regions and changing landscapes.
Traveling northwest along the Delaware River from Bristol through Yardley and New Hope, the trail is surrounded by pastoral, residential landscape. Going beyond New Hope, toward the Lehigh Valley towns of Bethelem, Easton and Allentown, the trail has industrial, rust-belt feel, with former industrial sites and active manufacturing. Then, as the trail continues north into Pennsylvania, through Lehigh Gorge State Park and Jim Thorpe, it takes on a more rustic wilderness feel. There’s less development, and the trail is surrounded by lakes, rivers and streams.
So far, the trail has 144 completed miles of the 165 miles planned. There’s a small gap in Morrisville, across the river from Trenton, which when complete in the next few years, will connect the trail completely from Bristol to Easton. There are also gaps between Allentown and Northampton, and Glen Summit and Walkes Barre, which the organization is actively working on.
"Ten to twenty years from now, you’ll be able to travel all the way from the Pennsylvania, New York border, all the way to Center City, Philadelphia."
Until then, one of the organization’s biggest challenges is educating people about the difficulty of building and maintaining the trail system, and how they can get involved. “That comes in many forms,” Greene said. “From using the trail, to being a volunteer, to becoming a member of our organization or making a donation.”
“Ten to twenty years from now, you’ll be able to travel all the way from the Pennsylvania, New York border, all the way to Center City, Philadelphia,” he said. “That will be an awesome day.”
We asked Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trails Program Manager Brian Greene to share some of his favorite spots along the D&L Trail, for any riders interested in traveling farther on their next journey.
The D&L Trail covers over 20 miles through this beautiful state park that parallels the Lehigh River. Get back to nature with waterfalls, forests, streams, steep cliffs and no cellphone service. Make time to go on a rafting trip to explore the park by water.
Come and experience the history that you see along the D&L Trail in person. Artifacts, photos, exhibits, and the last mule drawn canal boat in PA bring history to life in a family friendly museum.
By combining the D&L Trail in Pennsylvania and the Delaware and Raritan Trail in New Jersey you can create “loop trails” around the Delaware River. With six scenic bridges between Uhlerstown-Frenchtown and Morrisville-Trenton you can create a loop from 7 to 70 miles in length and never touch the same trail twice. Many great towns and businesses along the way make it fun to explore.
An environmental success story of a former zinc smelting site that was a superfund that was restored. Now there are lots of hiking and biking trails that go through grasslands filled with birds along the Kittatinny Ridge. Special nature programs highlight the flora and fauna and the Appalachian Trail passes through in case you want to talk a short or very long hike.