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The Palmer Township Recreation Trail (a.k.a. the Towpath Bike Trail) is a terrific community asset for Palmer and Bethlehem township residents and a great destination for visitors as well. Three modes of transportation once operated on this corridor: Lehigh Canal, the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Transit (LVT) interurban.
Chartered in 1818, the privately owned canal remained in operation for 113 years, hauling anthracite coal from Mauch Chunk to the Delaware Canal at Easton. The Easton and Western branch was built in 1914 and fell into disuse in 1972. The LVT Easton line was part of a larger electric railways system that stretched from the Delaware Water Gap to near Philadelphia.
Today a smooth, 8-foot-wide asphalt trail traverses the corridor in a partial loop running nearly 8 miles from Easton High School to Riverview Park. The loop is the heart of the trail. The small spur section running south from Easton Area High School in Palmer Township makes a nice connection for locals to access the trail.
Heading north from the high school, is a spur known as the Tatamy Trail, which stretches north for several miles, connecting a few small parks and reaching the community of Tatamy.
Mostly tree-shaded, the trail is pretty and well maintained, with mile markers, benches and flowerbeds sprinkled throughout. Starting at the high school, you cruise down a gentle grade to Riverview Park, which lines the banks of the Lehigh River. The first mile of trail passes through neighborhoods and parks, but the path quickly becomes secluded and serene as it weaves through farmland and woodland.
Around mile 5 the trail starts to loop back and runs along the river, although at this point the distance and tree cover make river views hard to see. Close to mile 6 the trail intersects with another rail-trail the D & L Trail: Lehigh Canal South, which heads south to Allentown. To stay on the towpath trail and complete the loop, bear left. At this point, you start to see the river off to your right, and as you glide along the next to the river, stop and enjoy the gorgeous Chain Dam overlook. As the trail comes to a close you wind back from the water's edge through Riverview Park, with its picnic areas, ball fields, pavilions, restrooms and parking. Fishing is also available at this park.
To extend your sightseeing, take the short distance (on road) out of the parking lot down Lehigh Drive, and turn right to go over the Glendon Bridge into Hugh Moore Park. This great recreational park offers canal rides on boats drawn by horses plying the old towpath, historical markers sharing the canal's history and open green space to picnic, play soccer or relax.
To reach the Riverview Park trailhead from Allentown, take US Route 22 East to 25th Street South. Stay on 25th Street South for about 2 miles and turn right on Lehigh Drive. Turn right into the parking lot.
To reach the northern trailhead from Allentown, take US 22 East to 25th Street South. Turn right onto William Penn Highway (Easton Avenue). Almost immediately you will see a shopping center on your right and Easton High just beyond it. Turn left onto 27th Street, which dead-ends at the entrance to the trail. A small gravel area here does not have posted parking restrictions.
The path is nice, a bit bumpy with roots in the first couple miles, starting from the Home Depot parking lot area. The trail description indicates 7.8 miles but my gps logged about a mile less. The path is graded downhill from the Home Depot and then levels out slightly when it merges with the D&L.
I actually started in the town of Tatamy. We connected a few trails to arrive at the Palmer TRT. It started out easy and smooth but came to a very steep uphill from Englewood St. to the next connection. After riding a short distance on Gruver St. we crossed over to a steep downhill that lead to a bridge over route 22 thruway. There were plenty of street crossovers but doing my homework and studying the trail kept me going in the right direction. When we got to the Palmer TRT there were lots of bumps and cracks in the asphalt but still good for our soggy ride. We turned around at Riverview Community park I think it's called and went back. What an uphill workout. Overall it was good been on worse. I would have wanted to make a loop out of the ride but would have needed to ride some roads and my partner didn't want to do it. Total length of my journey was close to 26 miles
I parked at 725 south 27th St and had a very nice ride on a great late summer day. The pavement on the East Easton end is not in the best of shape as there are a lot of tree routes and lots of cracks in the pavement, it was a bumpy ride. The trail was very busy as there was a 1/2 marathon just finishing up. From Fairview Park down to the river the pavement is newer and in great shape. From the river back to Fairview Park, about 3 miles you pick up over 300 ft elevation. It was a great ride down and a good work out on the way back.
This is a great shaded trail. A little tricky picking up the right turn 200 yards south of William Penn Highway.
Additionally, there are lots of seams in the macadam between Wm. Penn Hwy and where the trail intersects the Towpath trail along the river. Very jarring for bikes with narrow road tires. Once onto the Towpath along the river, it is absolutely spectacular with excellent macadam.
We did trail with a shuttle driver and did the downhill section from High school to boat ramp. Nice ride on asphalt, easy. Next time we will have to do the other direction. See pic from boat access area.
I did this trail for the first time today. After I finally found a place to park on the north end (the description on this page is wrong-there is no small unpaved area on 27th Street at the trail plus the address in the 'Get Directions' screen on the map takes you to a different parking lot that does border the trail, but no signs) it was a nice ride. The first few miles are rough due to the many cracks in the asphalt. My main complaint is the lack on signs. Did someone steal them? The junction with the D&L-South Trail is unsigned and could just as well be a spur to a parking lot. The RTT book labels this trail as D&L North!
I ran the trail from West Easton(bottom)up to around the high school,,about 6.5 miles,,it was a slight incline from Easton but the way back was a great reward as I was averaging 13 MPH on my MTB,,I would recommend this trail to a friend.
Tom from P-burg
Expansion cracks , nice scenery, not well marked, should be even better in spring and fall , little hilly
My friend and I tried this trail recently and found it to be a very relaxing and scenic trail. We parked at the River View Park trailhead and started the trail heading west. The entire trail is paved and very easy to ride. There is a multitude of scenery along the trail from tree-covered areas along the Lehigh River to beautifully landscaped yards where the trail wanders through parts of the Eastyon suburbs. Since the trail is not a loop, getting back to River View Park was a bit of a challenge. As you near the northern end of the trail it splits at a "Y". We tried the left fork first but ended up at the back of a shopping center. Retracing our tracks, we took the right fork which wanders along the back of another shopping center then abruptly ends at 25th street. This is the end of the trail! To get back to River View Park, all you have to do is turn right onto 25th street for less than 1/2 mile, this section of 25th street is narrow and does have some traffic on it, but it is all down hill. The entrance to River View Park on the right at the bottom of the hill. It wasn't as bad as we originally thought it would be getting back. Since the trail was shorter than we expected, we decided to do some sightseeing. Taking the lower road out of River View Park towards Easton, we crossed the bridge to the Canal Boat landing. After working our way around this park area, we returned over the park bridge, turned right and rode along this road to Easton, Approx. 1 1/2 miles. We found a park overlooking the Lehigh River Dam where the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers meet. Quite scenic. If you try the Palmer Township Trail, consider these side trips as well. You will not be disappointed. BTW. At many street crossings there are signs that say "This is the end of the bike trail", however, the trail does not end until 25th street. These signs just ask you to walk your bike across the street.
- This Trail Head begins in Palmer TWP, PA 18045 (Easton), at S 25th St., and is called by three names; 1) Tow Path Bike Trail, 2) Palmer TWP Rail Trail, 3) D&L Trail - Lehigh Canal South, because it merges with the D&L Trail - Lehigh Canal South, which runs along the Lehigh River. Approximatley 2.3 miles west, it branches north and is called by two names; Tow Path Bike Trail / Palmer TWP Rail Trail.
- The Trail End for the Tow Path Bike Trail / Palmer TWP Rail Trail, has been extended from S 27th St. (near William Penn/Easton Ave.), southward paralleling S 25th St., then crossing Freemansburg Ave., and ending on S 25th St. across from Hillside Ave.
- From the point across from Hillside Ave., one can return to the Trail Head via Hillside Ave., to Iron St., to Glendon Hill Rd., to Lehigh Dr., and back to 25th St. Trail Head.
Really liked this trail. Some challenging spots due to recent flooding and overgrown brush. Helped to keep it from getting boring! Hope to ride it again soon.
"This is one of the best trails I have been on. It is mostly level and paved. And it is extended by being connected to other paths. On the east, the path connects to the Easton Canal path (most of which is also paved), then south to the Delaware canal path and its 60+ mile length. On the west, following the river, it connects to the canal trail that goes all the way to Bethlehem, then Allentown, and then north to Jim Thorpe.
You can spend days riding segments of these paths. I recommend riding to Bethlehem up the hill to downtown for ice cream, or on to Easton, cross the bridge to town , then the free bridge to NJ, and grab a Hot Dog at one of the food establishments."
"At first I wasn't sure what to expect. However, after seeing how smooth the ride was and how beautiful the scenery was I was very pleased.
I'm not sure how far the path goes. I went from Easton to somewhere near Bethlehem. A must for any bike fan.
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