The Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Gravity Railroad conducted a 3-mile test of the first steam locomotive in the U.S. in August 1829, which ran from the towns of Honesdale to Seeleyville, Pennsylvania, and discovered that the train was too heavy for the track. By 1830, the D&H Railroad's 17 miles of track constituted the vast majority of total railroad tracks in the U.S. at the timejust 23 miles!
From these small beginnings, the D&H became a successful mining and railroad company, shipping anthracite coal and lumber from the Lackawanna Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania to the East Coast of the U.S. and to Canada. As the supply of coal and lumber were depleted from the area, the need for the railroad diminished, and the rail-trail came into being.
As the trail is comprised of cinder, original ballast and hard-packed dirt, you need a hybrid or mountain bike to comfortably ride this intermittently rugged trail. There are a few short sections with large chunks of ballast and steep inclines where you may need to walk your bike.
The trail parallels the Lackawanna River for several miles, offering scenic vistas of the river and several small lakes. Some areas of the trail are tree lined, but some are out in the openwear sunscreen. The first 8 miles of the southern end of the D&H Rail Trail parallels the O&W Trail
(Simpson to Stillwater dam area). Due to right-of-way issues and unimproved bridges, the first 2 miles of the D&H are actually closed; trail users will need to start in Simpson on the O&W Trail instead. When you reach a sign indicating that you can cross over to the D&H, do so (to the west).
From Simpson to Ararat, you'll be pedaling constantly because of the slight incline in the trail. But from Ararat to Stevens Point, you'll have a much easier ride because the trail's grade is at a slight decline. In Thompson, take a break at the homemade ice cream shop right alongside the trail before continuing on to the New York State border.
Note, from where you cross over the Lackawanna River from the O&W to the D&H (about 10 miles), the trail is improved with a stone dust surface all the way to Herrick Center (SR 374). From Herrick Center, cyclists will need a mountain bike to get through to the New York border because the trail can be rough in places.
To access the trail from Simpson, take I-81 to Exit 185, then Route 6 to Carbondale. After the town of Carbondale, turn left onto Route 171. Continue 1 mile and park on the right side of the viaduct, next to the military tank. Follow the O&W Trail for 2 miles, where it accesses the D&H to the west.
In Forest City parking is in Forest City Industrial Park off of Commerce Boulevard. There is a large trailhead, ample parking and a port-a-john. From Forest City, the improved trail is 2 miles south and 8 miles north.
The Union Dale trailhead is on South Main Avenue at the intersection with Skyline Drive.