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The 38-mile D&H Rail-Trail traces the former corridor of the Delaware & Hudson Railway, a line that primarily carried anthracite coal out of the Lackawanna Valley in the second half of the 19th century. The D&H Railway corridor’s early claim to fame: it was on its predecessor—the D&H Gravity Line—that the first steam locomotive in America, the Stourbridge Lion, made its one and only run in August 1829.
A good starting point at the southern terminus is the Morse Avenue trailhead, west of the Lackawanna River. Here the trail connects seamlessly with the 32.4-mile Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, which leads south to Taylor and north along a shared corridor with the D&H Rail-Trail for 10 miles to Stillwater Dam in Clifford.
Heading north on the D&H on an improved crushed-stone surface, the trail follows the Lackawanna River, crossing it four times in the first few miles. The scars of coal mining are evident in the beginning, but after passing Forest City, about 5 miles along the route, the trail passes into the scenic Endless Mountains Region, known for farmlands, stone walls, and forests.
At Forest City you’ll reach the largest trailhead and parking area on the D&H. Forest City is a welcoming trail town with many goods and services, including restaurants and markets, located just two blocks west of the trail on Main Street. Heading north, you’ll cross two more bridges before being treated to views of Stillwater Dam at Stillwater Lake.
The D&H also loosely parallels the unimproved O&W Rail-Trail for its first 8 miles, from Simpson to Stillwater Dam, and loop trips are possible with a mountain bike.
At about 10.2 miles along the trail in Union Dale, at the corner of South Main Street and Norton Hill Boro Street, you’ll reach a trailhead with parking and a portable restroom. Also at this location are an original D&H pusher caboose, under renovation (expected to be complete by summer 2020), and the office for the Rail-Trail Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which manages the trail. Stop in for trail information, or grab a sandwich at the deli next door (open 6 a.m.–6 p.m.; closed Wednesdays).
Continuing north, the route passes through the rural areas of Herrick and Burnwood, where stone walls line the route. You’ll pass three lakes before reaching Ararat at about 19 miles; this is the high point of the trail’s grade, which can be challenging. An ADA-accessible trail ramp is located near the Ararat Road trailhead. Here many trail users opt to turn around and enjoy the downgrade back to Forest City or Simpson.
North of the Ararat Road trailhead, the trail surface reverts to original cinder, which has been graded with drainage improvements and is conducive to mountain biking. The route makes a sharp north-south loop before heading east to Thompson, where a seasonal ice cream shop inhabits the only original, still-standing railroad station along the route. North of Thompson, you’ll come to a deep ravine and the former site of a 500-foot railroad bridge that has been removed and replaced with switchback trails on either side of the ravine.
The trail continues north, hugging the mountainside—with scenic views of the village of Starrucca below—and then traveling through immense tree cover to Stevens Point in Harmony Township, where the route heads west. The trail intermittently parallels or crosses Starrucca Creek three times between Stevens Point and Lanesboro. Just north of the Brandt Bridge, trail users can bypass a creek washout by utilizing the Upper D&H, the original railbed that connected to the Erie Railroad, for about 300 yards. To continue on the D&H Rail-Trail, stay to the right as a ramp descends back to creekside. (The Upper D&H continues as a gentle upgrade about 1 mile to the active railroad, where it ends.)
Stay on the lower D&H Rail-Trail to reach Lanesboro’s Luciana Park, in the shadow of the Starrucca Viaduct. An official trailhead for the route, the park has picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and a large parking area. The trail then passes beneath the railway viaduct—an engineering wonder of the world, with its 17 bluestone arches—which is part of a railroad that is still operating today. It’s not uncommon to meet railroad buffs here from around the globe. Interpretive signage about the viaduct and the area’s railroad history is located in Luciana Park.
The last few miles of the D&H parallel the mighty North Branch of the Susquehanna River before the trail ends at the New York border. Here the trail is overgrown, but the trail section from Stevens Point to the state line is scheduled for major improvements in 2020.
To reach the southern trailhead in Simpson from US 6, head north onto US 6 Bus. W (Roosevelt Hwy.)—if heading east on US 6, turn left, if heading west on US 6, turn right—and go 0.9 mile. Turn right onto Canaan St., go 0.2 mile, and then turn left onto Morse Ave. Go 0.1 mile, and take a slight left to stay on Morse Ave. for 0.5 mile. Look for a small trailhead parking lot to your right just after you cross the Lackawanna River. Additional parking is available about 400 feet southwest at the intersection of Morse Ave. and Enterprise Dr.
To reach the trailhead in Lanesboro from I-81, take Exit 230 for SR 171 toward Great Bend and Susquehanna. (If heading south on I-81, turn left onto PA 171; if heading north, turn right onto SR 171.) Go 8.1 miles on SR 171 S/PA 92 S, and turn right onto Exchange St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto W. Main St. Go 1.8 miles, take a slight left onto S. Main St., and go 0.1 mile. After crossing Starrucca Creek, take the second right onto Depot St., and then go about 480 feet to pass under the Starrucca Viaduct. Veer left and then immediately right to reach the parking area at Luciana Park.
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