9/12/2009 10:56:44 AM
It's a truism that whenever someone says it's all downhill from here that they're lying, but not on the Lehigh Gorge Trail. Two outfitters in Jim Thorpe will shuttle you (for a fee) to the White Haven trailhead and from there while you do have to pedal it is pretty much all downhill. Once you leave town there's no drinking water so make sure your bottles are full.
You really can't get lost, if the river is to your left you are heading South towards Jim Thorpe. While there are leaves on the trees you generally can't see the river from the trail, but there a picnic tables placed where you can stop for a view. There are new signposts on the North end of the trail at least with directions and distances.
The first mile or so, where the path widens to double as parking lot for cyclists and whitewater rafters, is gravel. But once you get past that, except for short stretches at Rockport and Penn Haven, the surface is hard packed crushed limestone. We were able to easily ride this trail on road bikes. Even the last few miles of rail-with-trail where we saw an old passenger train hauled by a steam locomotive.
If you look at the interactive map on this site you might think that the trail extends all the way to Jim Thorpe, but it doesn't, at least not yet. As the notes say it ends in a parking lot near Glen Onoko. There's a bridge over the active rail line but the trail ends with a fence on the other side. Apparently at this point a fence is needed to separate the trail from the railroad. That's supposed to be done by the Spring and then you should be able to ride all the way to Jim Thorpe. For now, another mile or so down the road the outfitters will pick you up for a shuttle back into town.