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The beautiful Lehigh and New England trail is a short, crushed-stone trail that follows a section of the former Lehigh and New England Railroad corridor just south of Tamaqua in eastern Pennsylvania. A lush tree canopy separates the trail from nearby State Highway 309.
Detailed signage regarding the general history of the trail is posted at the trailhead off Dairy Road. About halfway though the trail is the remains of the Shellhamer Ice Dam, a former recreation and entertainment complex. Use caution at the road crossings, especially those with steep grades.
If you're up for more riding, there's another rail-trail located just west of Tamaqua, the Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail, which spans just over 7 miles.
Parking is only available at the southern trailhead; if you attempt to park at the northern end of the trail (or other places along the trail), you risk your car being towed. To reach parking at the southern end of the trail: From I-81, take Exit 131 to Highway 54 East. Continue on Highway 54 until the stoplight for Route 309 in Hometown. Turn right onto 309 South and continue through Tamaqua. Approximately 3 miles beyond Tamaqua, turn left on Dairy Road. The marked trailhead is on the left; parking is available approximately 100 yards beyond the trailhead, on the right off of Dairy Road.
I rode the L&NE Rail Trail today in light fog and although the brush was trimmed back, the trail still needs an addition of crushed stone and rolling. The sign showing the history at the Dairy Road entrance is gone and the trail is really only one bike lane wide.
You can see the engineering that went into the original rail bed from 1910 to 1912 as the terrain changes from fill to cut and back to fill. There was a bad train accident on the rails back in the 1920s or 1930s where a locomotive collided with the caboose of a stalled train due to fallen rocks. The locomotive and several cars fell down the embankment toward present-day Route 309.
Still, it was a relatively flat ride on a significantly historic trail. I enjoyed it.
I am no longer going to use this rail-trail. The borough of Tamaqua doesn't appear to value it, as evidenced by their refusal to maintain it. The initial funding/cost/equipment/labor to create this rail-trail is concerning. These resources may have, or rather, should have been given to another municipality that understands the importance of such resources. For example, Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, or perhaps the Lehigh Valley. I wonder, if part of the funding to create this rail-trail, also included the equipment to maintain it? It is very sad.
The trailhead is hard to find. After turning onto Dairy Road from Rt. 309, in about 100 yards, look on your left (north) for where the field stops and a forested area begins. Immediately, look for a narrow dirt path going uphill, and in the distance, on top of the hill and pretty well blocked by trees, you will see a maroon sign indicating the trailhead.
We only road for three miles, north from Dairy Road. There is a path, but it is overgrown and only the single track is suitable for an easy ride. The trail begins in the woods, then follows a hillside trail above Rt. 309.
It is my opinion that this trail is not maintained. It is overgrown with weeds, and poison ivy etc. I run on this trail weekly. There was a time when I only saw a couple of regulars i.e. runners and dog walkers. There has been much more foot traffic in the past year. There is also more garbage. Yesterday I saw several empty cig packs, cig butts, several sports drink bottles, and empty gel packets strewn on the trail. Seriously people, if you take it in, please take it out. Thank you.
I live locally and utilize this trail a lot. Once in awhile it gets grown in before their next cut but overall they maintain it pretty well. It's good for walking, jogging, or bicycling.
Born and raised in the area. I enjoy running on this trail especially after work. I live in the country and people can drive fast on public roads. This trail is a safe alternative. Despite being heavily used, it is clean, accessible, and the people on it are very friendly. I wish the rest of the trail was re-done where the railroad used to cross over 309 and go down into the valley.
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