great trail to xc ski ...if you don't mind snowmobiles
Great trail in all seasons; however, winter use would be much better if snowmobile users would follow the rules and be considerate of other users. While snowmobiles are permitted from White Haven to Penn Haven Junction; they are prohibited from Penn Haven to Glen Onoko. However, don't expect peace and quiet or lack of exhaust in this stretch of beautiful scenery. DCNR doesn't enforce that prohibition and snowmobilers clearly know it. We had a horrible encounter with an impatient rider; rider didn't slow down, our rescue dog got spooked by the loud engine, slipped it's collar/leash, and, get this, was chased by snowmobiler who thought he could out run the dog. Well, after 1/2 mile or so, the rider finally thought to just stop the snowmobile. Fortunately we caught up with the poor, scared dog. The other snowmobilers we encountered (in this section where they were prohibited) were at least considerate enough to slow down/yield. The DCNR Ranger I spoke with was rather dismissive about the whole issue and laughed it off because they have no means to enforce it (plus they get a little revenue from selling snowmobile permits). Perhaps DCNR should post more signs, make a presence at the snowmobile loading lots to remind riders of the rules, and most importantly, erect physical barriers at Penn Haven Junction (that we see at many trailheads) to prevent this blatant disregard of the rules. Many of us specifically seek out trails that don't allow nuisance motors and while we're there, we contribute to the local economy. By allowing motor vehicles on trails that prohibit such, the authorities, like DCNR, are saying 'go elsewhere with your money'.
We live in Jim Thorpe and have never been on the Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail. I know, what is wrong with us? We were looking for something to do outdoors with our two boys this past weekend and since we drive by Pocono Biking everyday, we decided to go check them out. I called to see if we needed reservations and the lady said we can just head over to the shop. She told us the price, shuttle times, and what to wear and bring. It was so nice to talk to someone so pleasant and informative. We packed a bag with sandwiches, snacks, drinks - and NO toys or cell phones! Imagine that with a 1 and 3 year old! We were going to take the shuttle up to Rockport and bike the 15 miles. The staff was so sweet and helpful with us. I have not been on a bike since I was a kid so the one girl took her time making sure I felt comfortable riding around the site before she helped my husband get his bike. Our three year old was so excited he would not stand still. She took him over to the helmet bin and got him to put on a helmet - something he would not let Mommy or Daddy do, and had him and his brother "test drive" the Caboose. This thing was so cool! It connected to the back of my husband's bike so he could pull the two boys. We loaded the van with the other guests and off we went. On our drive up, the driver talked about the history of the town, the State Park, Glen Onoko Falls and the Lehigh River. I loved hearing about everything I had taken for granted in this town.
As we drove into Rockport I could not believe I was so close to home! How did I not know how beautiful this place was? We hopped out of the van to see cascading waterfalls and the rushing river. We loaded the kids and lunch in the caboose and hit the trail. As we crusied by a set of waterfalls our boys went nuts! We had to turn around so they could get a better look.
They loved getting pulled along the trail by their dad. They kept yelling "Go faster! Race Mommy!" When we stopped at one of the many picnic tables along the way for lunch, it was like we were in a movie. Rafters paddling down the river, bikers passing us on the trail, the wind making the trees dance (as my 3 year old used to say) and the birds chirping. We just sat there and enjoyed each other and nature. When we got back on the bikes we rode for a little with another family that was on the shuttle with us. They have been coming here for five years from New York City to ride this trail and go rafting with Pocono Whitewater - after talking to them that may be our next adventure.
The boys fell asleep with only a few miles to go but were woken up to a huge surprise - a train blowing it's whistle to us! They were beyond excited.
As we pulled back into the bike shop and got off the bikes the staff was right there to help us. Our three year old could not stop telling the one worker about his day. And he stood there and listened to every word and asked him questions. It was so sweet to see someone take the time to make my little guy feel grown up and special. The girls working told us and some other people who just pulled in about places to go grab some food and what to do in town. The staff was so great and you could see their passion and love for their job.
Our day to day lives are so busy that it was the perfect day to reconnect with each other and our boys. Biking the trial with Pocono Biking is our new favorite family activity. Hope to see you on the trail!
What a great trail, I did it from end to end round trip on a partly cloudy day in med April. This trail has it all, Park benches, Picnic tables, Mile markers, Historic marker, Signs that tell you how many miles to the next two Trail heads and a great surface, just a little lose in some spots. You have a view of the Lehigh river from end to end and it is just a beautiful view. I did this on a Mt Bike with a town and country tire but I did run into a Biker form IL. that was on a road bike with a Touring tire on the front and he told me it worked well. This is a very family friendly trail and even though it was mid week I saw a number of family's. The southern end dose not have much of a canopy my be the first six or seven miles so make sure you have a supply of Sunscreen. If I was going to do just one way I would do North to south as the prevailing wind is out of the north west and it is all down hill grade from White Heaven, my trip up was 2hours 5 min and my trip back was 1hr 40 min. There is ample parking at Glen Onoko which is about three miles up the trail from Jim Thorpe, and ample parking at the white Heavens trail head. There are just a few parking spots at the Rockport trail head and on weekend the Park Rangers do not even let cars down to the trail head. Once again I just do not give out five stars but if I did this trail would get one.
This trail is excellent for young kids just learning to ride.
We discovered the trail by accident on Father's Day, 2011. We originally went to Jim Thorpe to ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad and discovered this trail paralleling the railroad while riding the train. And because of this, the trail is flat, perfect for my young daughter, who only earlier this year, had the training wheels removed from her bike. So a week later we went back with the bikes. The scenic upper Lehigh River is on one side and the railroad is on the other, which departs the Jim Thorpe station at 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00 on weekends. The town of Jim Thorpe is a wonderful collection of boutique shops and restaurants. Overlooking the town, the Asa Packer mansion is open for tours. Packer was the local railroad barron and founder of Lehigh University. He capitalized on the area's need to get coal from the region down to Philadelphia. We're looking forward to returning around the fall during the peak foliage, perhaps starting at the White Haven trail head. Bring the camera as black bears have been seen roaming along the trail.
Third time's the charm!
My wife and I rode the trail July 2, her second my third trip. As always, it was a wonderful experience - the surface of the trail is excellent - fine crushed stone, the views of the river priceless, and the sight of sunlight filtering through the overhead trees provides a wonderful mosaic on the trail and surroundings.
We took the Blue Mountain Sports 10AM shuttle to White Haven, and having gotten a rave review from the owner, stocked up on lunch at Renee's Cold Cut Hut on Berwick, then rode the 25 miles south. It was so beautiful it almost hurts the eyes. A nice place to eat lunch is at the waterfall just north of the Rockport junction, so we grabbed the end of the picnic table there and watched the waterfall while eating.
This trip there were not rafters! Surprised, I asked a park ranger who told me the rafters need a release of water at a dam upstream, and none was scheduled this weekend. I guess the moral of this story is, if you want peace and tranquility, do the ride on a week with no release. If you prefer the loud raucous noise of hundreds of people having a great ride on the river, then choose a release date (both have merit in MHO).
PLEASE: if at all possible, do the whole ride, not the 15 mile Rockport ride. The first 15 miles of the trail south of White Have are tree covered and offer the best views. The last 10 miles of the trail are open, further from the river, and follow a real working rail road. When you take the Rockport trailhead, you only get 5 miles of the prettiest scenery. Remember that the trail has a 2% grade (down) from White Haven, and the surface is the best gravel surface I've ever ridden on.
Note: Traillink has yet to indicate that the trail goes all the way into town, which is surely does.
Glen Onoko falls (hiking)
While there are lots of information on the falls itself, there is scant information on how to reach the falls. My wife and I hiked the "primary" trail which goes under the two bridges, the follows the gorge up. This trail is dangerous and steep - over loose stones and quite steep. I would estimate that it takes at least 45 minutes, perhaps an hour, to reach the falls this way. We got half way up and turned around.
A local told us on the way back that there is a second trail that is much easier to use, and loops around on the east side of the stream. We did see it on the way down. To reach it, from the parking lot make the right turn at the big warning sign, go under the two bridges, and bear right following the orange tape/blazes. Around 100 yards up the trail (and while still on the dirt portion) you will see off to the right what looks like a trail.
At this time there is a huge fallen tree across this trail, which makes one think its closed - or that the tree was put there intentionally. Looking closer, you can actually see a blaze mark on a big tree to the right of this side trail - which leads one to believe this was a sanctioned means to reach the top. [We will try this next trip, but it won't be for months.]
Asa Packer house.
I discovered this by reading an earlier review on this site. The house was quite interesting - its essentially a 1800s house preserved not restored. The tour was well worth it, and the story of Asa Packer perhaps even more interesting. Now I want to learn more about this remarkable man.
Every time I make this trip, I just keep telling myself - it doesn't get any better!
I've been on this trail in the spring and late summer, looking forward to seeing it in the fall, and during the rhododendron bloom.
The sights in June stole my breath away, candy pink mountain laurel were everywhere in the hills, the rapids were spraying mist in the air, and the cliffs were glistening with mountain spring water that poured down their sides. I felt I was in a fairyland; it was so unbelievably gorgeous, it was dumbfounding.
I toured the trail in early September too, when the forest was nearly all green. Instead of barreling through we stopped now and then to explore the area off the trail and take photos. It was rewarding to examine some of the natural beauty up close and stationary, and inspired some nice photos. A little nervous about the black bear warning posted at the head of the trail, but we didn't stray too far into the forest.
After the ride, the town of Jim Thorpe is always an engaging place. Check out the Asa Packer Mansion if you can. Asa Packer once owned the railroad. Stained glass by Tiffany, fabulous chandelier, grand piano; they say wealth breeds taste. On quaint, winding side streets, there are art and craft galleries, as well as antique shops to explore. Nice ambiance in the local restaurants is standard, with a selection of ethnic fare. I do miss the Sunrise Diner horribly. I understand it was sent to Ohio, waah.
If you want to stay overnight there is lodging in town, but I prefer to camp at the nearby Maugh Chunk or Hickory Run parks. My advice - don't hesitate to try this trail, you will be back.
A very scenic ride
The week before we rode from Rockport to White haven and back, a 19 mile ride, the following week we rode fro Jim Thorpe to Rockport and back, a 26.7 mile ride, both rides are very scenic you have the River on one side, and numerous waterfalls on the other, the "uphill" grade is very minor, you can hardly notice it, though the trip back is easier!
This trail is greatly used, there are plenty of places to stop and take pictures, or rest at the picnic tables placed all along the trail.
This is by far my favorite trail so far out of the ones I have rode.
Check out my videos of the trail on Utube, search under Dirtrider6.
It's all downhill
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.
Nice trail, but...
I went on this trail yesterday. After reading reviews and knowing what I know about the park, I thought it would be a nice ride. It was, the scenery was beautiful, the sounds of the river were great and I will definitely go on it again (despite seeing 2 rattlers just chillin by the road (one was on the road)) It was actually very neat to see the rattler, as I've never seen one before. Very cool. But I digress... The trail surface was crushed stone, and was easy to ride on. There was a part of two, for a stretch of about 50 yards total that was rocky, though not horrible. Anyone would definitely have to slow down and navigate thru. The trail is wide and didn't have any grade that I noticed.
The bad...I thought this trail was very poorly marked (regarding mileage and directions). Maybe I'm used to the Trail Markers from most of the other trails I've been on...and was expecting too much. I accessed it at the Rockport Trailhead and rode (I think) towards White Haven. My intent was to ride to Jim Thorpe, but I was disoriented as to which was Jim Thorpe was...and I didn't see any signs saying "Jim Thorpe 13 miles" or White Havem "13 miles" or anything like that. I only figured out I was riding towards White Haven because I didn't see any whitewater rafters. Along the path there were a few signs to point out various creeks, and told of another creek that was 2.5 miles away or whatever. This was nice, but again...I had no idea how many miles I rode, where I was going, or how far it was to get there.
This is a nice trail and I would recommend it...just become a bit familiar with where you want to ride before you go. Next time I'll be sure to go to Jim Thorpe and have the extra fun of hearing the screams of the rafters.
Nice trail, but not from Jim Thorpe
The trail is beautiful through the Gorge, but be warned that if you start in Jim Thorpe at the parking lot by the train station, you CANNOT start on the trail at the "end" of the parking lot as shown on the "interactive" map. The railroad owns the land and has a gate across the end of the lot. If you bypass the gate, you risk a fine, and when you get to the bridge over the Lehigh River, you will find a 6ft. high chain link fence blocking your way. To get to the trail, you must go from the lot onto 209 "south" (it is 209 south, though at that point it is actually going north), and turn right across the bridge on route 903, and follow the signs to "Glen Onoko State Park", and pick up the trail from there. Once in the Gorge, it is a beautiful ride on a broad flat path. of course I rode on an absolutely beautiful day (temps in the upper 70's, blue skies, a very slight breeze).
Beautiful gorge, one of my favorite rail trails
It's a pretty neat experience to hike/run/bike in Lehigh Gorge. You have a major river to your side, high rockface to your other side, and no civilization in sight except for the railroad on the other side of the river. The temperature differences inside the gorge are pretty neat too. You come upon cold and warm pieces, so dress warmly (or in layers). My most recent trip, there was snow covering the trail, with a nice thick layer of ice underneath. Since you are in a gorge, logically you have water running down onto the trail a lot. be careful, I didn't see the ice until had already fallen each time.
The White Haven trailhead starts near Blue Mountain Sports, at the back of the parking lot of the shopping center in White Haven. The grocery store is the White Haven Market; it is no longer a Thriftway as stated in the description. There is a Rite Aid that is easily seen as you enter the shopping center. Parking is available on the street next to it, and the parking meters were physically disabled when I was there, I am not sure if that was because it is winter.
Another fantastic ride
"We made another trip to the Lehigh Gorge in 2006, this time on a beautiful
summer day; even in summer the trail is cool from the tree canopy
that shades the path; on more than one occasion we were bathed
with refreshing waves of cool air that would linger around the many
waterfalls and rock faces as we passed.
This trip we discovered lock 24, somehow on our first trip we managed
to pedal past this site. The lock is worth the effort to dismount and
explore closer in, a word of caution however, particularly with children,
the lock is deep, and a fall into it would surely cause serious injury,
if not death. There are no fences or walkways, and the footing is
marginal, I'd defintly keep the single digit age kids away,
and apply strong parental control on the older ones. Further
south on the trail at Mud Run there is another lock that isn't
so deep with a safer trail that leads down into the old canal bed.
This trip we used Blue Mountain sports to shuttle us to the Whitehaven
trailhead, it's difficult to compare Blue Moutain with Pocono Whitewater,
the other trail shuttle service, because they are so different.
Blue Mountain is small and leaves right from Jim Thorpe, while Pocono is
a huge organization and operates from a base quite a distance out of
town (maybe 20 mins?). When using Blue moutain you can bike from the
end of the gorge trail, across the bridge, and back into town (and
your car), albeit on a narrow shoulder road, with two killer hills,
this gives you a full 25 mile ride, whereas Pocono Whitewater picks
you up at trail's end (about 22 miles), and buses you all the way
back to thier base. Note that the Blue Mountain guy
said they would pick you up at the trails end as well if you give
them a call, something to consider with kids.
If you consider overnighting the Inn at Jim Thorpe is the place, they have a dedicated locked bike room with racks, and hanging hooks."
"Nice ""flat"" ride"
"I have seen the full trail, the first from the Jim Thorpe side to just north of RockPort and the second from RockPort to White Haven. The best views are in the middle, with a couple of nice waterfalls near Rock Port (one just north, and one, Luke's Falls, just south).
I saw the round stone structure that someone put in the pics section, and I asked via email what it was. I was told that it may have been a water tank. (but, it has a door???)
I was directed to what sounds like an interesting publication that I plan to order:
I was told that document OF 98-03 ""Rocks and Ruins of the 'Upper Grand'"" has a lot of good historical information and it gives you
mileage marks for places of interest along the Gorge Trail.
The slope is pretty continual, but so minor that you must pedal in the downhill direction in most places to keep moving, although it is definitely an easier ride if taken from White Haven to Glen Onoko.
I plan to ride the trail regularly, even though I am 45 minutes away.
Also, do stop and read the historical signs, as the history of the area is very interesting.
"The Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail is my favorite. I drive 110 miles from Bergen County, New Jersey, to White Haven for this trail and it's worth the long drive.
You will be in awe of the views afforded from the trail. The Lehigh Gorge itself is worth visiting even if it weren’t for the trail. You won’t want to miss this trail in the fall when colors are at their peak.
You ride along the Lehigh river for the entire length. You will often see rafters in the river, as it is a very popular white-water venue. The Lehigh Gorge itself is an incredible sight.
You might forget that you're in Pennsylvania, and think you've been transported to the Swiss Alps!
The surface is mainly hard packed with cinder and some areas of larger stones, best suited for wide-tired bikes. The trail dries out nicely even after heavy rain, with only a couple of places where water may stand. Even these are very short and easy to get around.
There are several food options at either end of the trail. At the White Haven end, there is a small shopping center where you can buy a sandwich or shop at the supermarket. At the southern end, you will want to stop in Jim Thorpe to get a sandwich before driving the 2 miles from there to the trail access in Glen Onoko.
I don’t believe there are any food facilities near the Rockport access, but I rarely begin my ride from there.
The trail gains 500 feet in elevation going north from Glen Onoko to White Haven. You most likely won’t feel the gradual climb, as it takes the entire 25 miles to achieve it.
An active railroad line parallels the river and the trail for its entire length. The trail crosses the rail line at Penn Haven.
There aren’t many trains, but if you’re a railfan like me, there are great photo ops at Penn Haven, Glen Onoko, and Jim Thorpe (there might be some good shots at White Haven as well).
If you’re into a sort of “biathlon” you can ride the river south from White Haven or Rockport (river conditions permitting), and return north on your bike.
Improvements have been made along the trail since I first started riding it about 10 years ago. At Glen Onoko and Rockport, new restroom facilities has been built. While the toilets still don’t flush (it’s an eco-system) it’s a far cry better than the port-O-Johnnys that used to be there. At White Haven the new facility has not yet been built, but it is apparently planned for the future.
This is one rail-trail you must check out. Once you do, I guarantee you will return again and again. My only complaint is that the bridge from Glen Onoko into Jim Thorpe (across the river) has not been re-decked for riding. The bridge is presently off limits to all, but will someday (I hope) be opened to provide easy access into the center of Jim Thorpe. Now you must ride out of the park and along local roads to get into Jim Thorpe.