D & L Trail - Lehigh Canal North

Pennsylvania

D & L Trail - Lehigh Canal North Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Carbon, Northampton
Length: 7.7 miles
Trail end points: Where the PA Turnpk crosses the river (Parryville) and Near the river bend east of Susquehanna St. (Jim Thorpe)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6032168
Trail activities: Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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D & L Trail - Lehigh Canal North Description

Josiah White, a famous entrepreneur and innovator, built the Lehigh Canal to transport anthracite coal the 46 miles from Mauch Chunk to Easton. There, the coal barges entered the Delaware Canal to complete their journey to Philadelphia. An ambitious feat of engineering, the Lehigh Canal used 44 locks and 8 dams to conquer the 353-foot elevation change. Remnants of these locks and dams can still be seen from the trail. Today, the canal is part of a larger national park known as the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The Lehigh Canal: North (D&L Trail) traces the canal route from Parryville about 8 miles north to Jim Thorpe. Other rail-trails in close proximity include the Switchback Railroad Trail and the Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail.

Starting from the small trail parking lot at the southern end of the trail in Parryville, you will find a narrow trail with a hard packed dirt surface. The trail runs next to active railroad tracks in Parryville for about 1.5 miles. After mile 1, stay on the right side of the trail (next to the canal) of a long commercial parking lot. Pick up the trail again at the northern end. From there the trail runs along the Lehigh River for another mile and then follows the active tracks as they bend away from the river and lead you under Route 209 into Weissport, where you will find another parking lot.

Once in Weissport, the trail improves dramatically. There is a pleasant signed trailhead with public parking and a picnic area. Be prepared for hoards of ducks to follow you if you stop for a picnic. The trail surface widens and is crushed stone from here on out. The ride is scenic with canal views on your right and built-in observation points at lock and dam crossings. The left-hand side of the trail affords views of the Lehigh River, and wildlife, such as beaver, mink, deer and waterfowl, are common sights along the canal and riverbanks. The last mile winds down as the trail turns west and ends at a commercial site just outside of Jim Thorpe. There is no trail parking at this northern trailhead.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Parryville trailhead, take Interstate 476 to Exit 74 to State Route 209. Follow 209 South to the traffic light just before the Lehigh River Bridge. Turn left here onto 248 South. Continue 1.7 miles to a trail parking lot on your right. Follow the dirt path south out of the parking lot and past the sign. Cross a small pedestrian bridge to get to the trailhead.

To reach the midpoint trailhead in Weissport, take Interstate 476 to Exit 74 to 209. Follow 209 South to the traffic light just before the Lehigh River Bridge. Turn right at the light onto Canal Street. Go 0.25 mile and turn left on Bridge Street when Canal Street dead-ends into it. The parking lot will be on your right immediately after you turn onto Bridge Street. This trail is wheelchair-accessible from Weissport northward

There is no access from the northern point.

D & L Trail - Lehigh Canal North Reviews

There are several scenic sections along this trail. The beginning near Riverwalk Bar and the cement company creates a confusing start and the trail closing just past the sewage treatment plant makes for an abrupt "where do I go from here". At that point you can actually see the town. It looks like it will be a long time before the connecting pedestrian bridge will be completed. The little time I spent looking around I did not see any footings. The interior portion of the trail is nice scenic ride with plenty of historical locks and places to pull over.

We parked at the Parryville access, which is right across 248 from River Walck Restaurant and in clear view of the highway. You have to be prepared to ignore non-trespassing signs to travel this section, starting with one posted on the railroad crossing you need to use to get into the parking area. The parking area is clearly marked as the official access parking and the start to the D&L Trail section (don't get use to these signs, there aren't many). The short section from the parking area to the turnpike overpass is quite pretty, with the river in view to the left and the canal on you right, the surface is mowed grass with many bumpy roots, and things deteriorate to loose gravel under the turnpike. Here, and in many other sections, the vegetation is leaning in from both sides, in need of a trim. There are a couple of picnic tables and at least one bench near the parking area. Heading further northward, just under the bridge you rejoin the cement company's private paved road and turn left, only to be faced by a tall fence and large sign prohibiting entry before checking in at the office (the only nearby building appears abandoned). No signs note the trail, but there is no other path to follow, the gate was open and industrial area nearly deserted, so we forged ahead. After a good distance on the concrete parking lot you pass one random D&L sign standing on the edge. After a bit further the parking lot narrows and offers you the choice of a rough gravel road straight ahead or a grassy path dipping toward the canal, which looked more promising. Sure enough, after a short, rough, grassy section next to a pretty scruffy section of canal (lots of debris in the water, and a distinct odor), this passes under a railway bridge as an narrow gravel path, and you climb up to a 2 lane railway access road (packed gravel/grassy) which continues all the way to Weisport. The canal is full of water for much of the remaining distance, and quite pretty. The train tracks are elevated between you and the river, so you don't see the river, and 248 rumbles along on the top of the bluff above the canal, so it isn't quiet; but other than needing a side trim, the trail is solid and easy to ride. Once you pass under the 209 bridge you can see the parking access. Take care crossing the surface road, as cars come whipping around the corner at high speed, and even if there was a marked crosswalk, which there isn't, painted lines aren't much protection. Riding south on the trail from the Weisport, access to the trail isn't much friendlier: signs at the mouth of the access area instruct you to dismount and walk your bikes. Do so (see above). Those are the last trail signs you will see heading this direction until the Turnpike overpass. Instead, there are many large NO TRESPASSING and NO PARKING signs, complements of the railway company, in what would otherwise appear to be a large, gravel parking area. Head south through it, finally staying to the left of the 209 overpass abutment, past one last NO TRESPASSING sign, and you will be on the trail. This website says the section is open, the signs in the southern end suggest it is open, but a walker or biker might well wonder if the cement company and the railway company agree.
If you want to picnic and/or take a short but pretty stroll, with views of the canal and the river, try the southern end by Parryville, turning back before the turnpike overpass. Coming from Weisport, walking or riding, you might want to plan on turning around at the lock where the railway access road ends.

I rode this trail several times, as stated by others the first two miles north of Weissport are nice. After that it turns into single track not really suited for hybrid with narrow tires. Gets really rough near the treatment plant. I can't wait for the bridge to be build to connect with JT.

Accordion

I needed to do this trail to complete all the D & L
trails, so with that said this was not a great ride as it is short and only about two miles are in great shape. There are great Historic markers along the way and there is a great trail head at 72 Canal St. The Portia Potty was in really bad shape but out side of that It was not a great ride. According to Trail link you can get to the Walnut Weisport trail but I could not find it and a couple of locals had no idea what I was talking about.

I am fortunate to live so close to this trail! It is beautiful in all seasons. There are a number of different options of what you can do here. First, I recommend riding a hybrid or mountain bike. Kids bikes will do just fine. In addition there are miles of single track that weave through the park on either side of the trail. This is also an excellent location to hike and is fairly well marked with reflective strips on trees or signs marked "bike trail."

In the winter the canal freezes over and we maintain it for skating. (PLEASE DON'T throw ROCKS on the ICE) We hold pickup hockey and broom ball games. Cross country skiing is wonderful along this stretch with the frozen canal on your right and river waters on your left, too.

You can get to Jim Thorpe by following the path all the way to the end. You must go left around the sewage treatment plant - continue through the lock - up the paved path and onto the railroad access road. This takes you to the grocery store parking lot and then you have two options to get to the next section of trail - either continue by road up to the Lehigh Gorge State Park, (use a map if unsure) or circle around and go into downtown Jim Thorpe's train station parking lot and proceed northward to the new trail. I personally recommend the latter because I love the new railroad bridge crossing of the Lehigh.

The D&L people don't like to put up many signs so you are on your own to actually find trail heads.

At Weissport heading north it is very nice and well maintained for 2 miles then goes into singletrack until it dead-ends at the sewage plant. Don't go any further! You risk injury on the rocks going left around the sewage plant and trespassing charges on the rail road.

From Weissport heading south - Where's the trail?? the dirt parking lot across the street has a no trespassing sign. But no D&L sign to direct us.

Most of the D&L Trail is great, well maintained, and beautiful. Its taken many years to get this far. It is not a thru-bike tour if you want to stay off roads.

I have been cycling for > 25 years and have traveled the roads, aggressive mountain trails and rail trails. My wife and I enjoyed the semi-single track of this section but the trail head is an unsafe joke. It literally took us 45 minutes to figure out where to go. I never did find the trail at the start but after hiking the railroad tracks to the bridge, we were able to hop down onto it. Although the return trip idetified they way we should have gone, the time was already lost. We were also dodging cement carrying trucks and a front loader. Good thing we did not have small children. In their defense, the workers we very courteous. After crossing into the next town, the trail is beautiful. We continued to Jim Thorpe with little difficulty. It gets a little hairy at the sewage plant if you want to go down town. My recommendation is to start at the next trailhead and avoid the confusion.

This is a fairly nice trail on the south end of the trail. Once you get north of Bethlehem it becomes a more rustic wooded trail that is not a manicured trail like some. I would not recommend a road bike for the north end of this trail. It is more of a hybrid or mountain bike type of trail. Overall I enjoyed this trail, it was fairly scenic and there are a few information kiosks along the trail.

I rode the northern section of this trail on 5/4/12 and found it to be in excellent shape on the improved 2.7 mile section. On the last .5 mile section where it becomes single track there was a major washout toward the end which is under repair. What some might think are two washouts on the improved section are actually canal spillways which are crossed by two wooden bridges. Short as it is this is a very scenic trail well worth a visit.

We began at the trailhead in Weissport. Great trailhead with families of geese and ducks. We headed south towards Parryville on the somewhat overgrown, but passable, trail although we lost the trail on the far side of the commercial parking lot. We headed back north, through Weissport and beyond, towards Jim Thorpe, but there has been some major storm/flood damage. We had to portage bikes around one area with large boulders, rode through many rough sections, and had to completely stop just past the water treatment facility because the trail was washed away and under water (about the last 1 1/2-2 miles). While this trail would make a great walk...pretty scenery along the river, it was a little disappointing for a bike ride


The trail access is easily found in Weissport per the description. There is another trail access at the very southern end of the trail in Parryville, on route 248. To get to it, you would basically follow the directions for Weissport, but take route 209 to route 248 and turn left. The parking lot is 1.7 miles down route 248, shortly after you pass under I-476, on your right. There is a sign for Lehigh Gorge State Park.

That said, the southern portion of this "North" trail is not nearly as nice as the northern portion, and it is not friendly to bikes much at all. From Parryville, it's a narrow "normal" trail, not rail-trail-like, and after a .5-1 mile you end up in the parking lot of major construction-type business. It's not clear where the trail is from that point if you are coming from the south. But you need to cut through the parking lot, staying to the right, following the canal, and then the trail picks up again with dirt/stone (if you are coming from the north, it is easier to find where the trail picks up after the business, just follow the canal). From there the trail gets better, with locks, and neat little storage rooms that you can investigate, carved out from the rock cliff.

North of Weissport, the trail gets really nice. The terrain is all crushed rock in many places, and each lock has a bridge over it, for further investigation. It heads into Lehigh Gorge, which is very pretty, and the river is on your left side, rushing past you. The trail ends shortly before Jim Thorpe, at what appears to be a water processing/filtration plant. Unfortunately there is no trail access north of Weissport.

This is a nice trail. It has a crushed stone surface that makes for a nice ride for all ages.

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