The Ironton Rail-Trail is the quintessential example of how a former rail corridor can transform a community. This trail has it all for locals and visitors alike. If you are looking for beautiful scenery, safe venues for exercise and access to great parks and historical points of interest, you can't go wrong with this trail.
This corridor was originally the home of the Ironton Railroad, which began operating in 1860 with the primary purpose of transporting iron ore from the Ironton mines to the Lehigh Valley Railroad. As the iron ore industry dried up, the railroad continued to serve the local cement mills until it fell into disuse in 1984.
The trail consists of a 6-mile loop and 3-mile spur. You can pick up the loop at Hokendauqua Park, a community park featuring parking, restrooms, a playground, baseball fields and basketball courts. This flat, paved section passes through wooded terrain and runs adjacent to Coplay Creek for a short section before turning north toward the town of Coplay, where it runs past the Thomas Iron Works Property. Just after this property the trail is unfinished, but the paved surface picks up again at Saylor Park in Coplay.
With its two rows of beautiful old cement kilns reaching toward the sky, the last ones standing in the U.S., Saylor Park is a must-see. Don't miss the historical markers off the trail on the back side of the kilns that explains their relevance in American history. This small scenic park has a nice playground, open space for picnicking or sunbathing and a parking lot.
About 2 miles past Saylor Park the trail loop intersects with the 3-mile spur. If you continue on the loop, you will travel through wooded areas and past neighborhood back yards before reconnecting with Hokendauqua Park.
The 3-mile spur has a crushed stone surface and offers a historical tour of the area's cement manufacturing heritage, passing through scenic Whitehall Parkway whose ruins of old buildings are sprinkled throughout. The trail ends on Quarry Road at another ample parking lot.
Parking is available on the north end of Whitehall Parkway at 4041 Chestnut Street in Whitehall.
To access the trail from Hokendauqua Park, take SR 22 East to 145 North (Macarthur Road). Turn right on Lehigh Street and left onto Coplay Court. Immediately after going under the overpass, turn right into Hokendauqua Parking Lot.
To access the trail from Saylor Park, take SR 22 East to 145 North (Macarthur Road) but stay on 145 North. Pass Lehigh Street and turn right onto Main Street. Turn right onto Coplay Road (bear right to stay on Coplay at the intersection with North Coplay) to Saylor Park.
To access the spur, take SR 22 East to 145 North (Macarthur Road). Turn left on Mechanicsville Road. Turn right on Mauch Chunck Road and then turn right onto Quarry Street. You'll find the trailhead and parking lot on your left at the intersection of Quarry and Portland streets.