South Bethlehem Greenway


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South Bethlehem Greenway Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Northampton
Length: 1.9 miles
Trail end points: S New St between Mechanic St & E Graham Pl and Just east of Auburn St & Traveler Ave
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6180574

South Bethlehem Greenway Description

The South Bethlehem Greenway is a linear park that follows a former Norfolk Southern rail line through the southern neighborhoods of Bethlehem. The paved pathway begins just north of Lehigh University and travels about 2 miles east and south to end just outside of Saucon Park.

The trail parallels Daly Avenue/State Route 412 for much of its route and passes the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation site, where steel stacks tower over new development. A large portion of the site is now home to the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. The company paid for much of the trail’s development adjacent to its property.

Connections to the Saucon Rail Trail and D&L Trail are in the early planning stages.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the South Bethlehem Greenway is available in a dedicated lot off Steel Avenue, between E. 3rd Street and Mechanic Street. Public parking is also available farther east in downtown South Bethlehem.

South Bethlehem Greenway Reviews

Path To Urban Renewal

A little under two miles in length, the South Bethlehem Greenway forms a semi-circle through a city that is enjoying a renaissance after falling on hard times. Once home to Bethlehem Steel, one of the nation's major iron and steel companies, the city of Bethlehem entered a period of decline in the late 20th century, culminating in the closure of the massive mill in 1995 and the dissolution of the company itself in 2003.
Two decades later, the city has come back to life as much of the old steel works have been redeveloped as commercial properties, a performing arts center and casino. An array of eateries, art galleries and specialty shops now welcome visitors to the downtown.
The South Bethlehem Greenway plays a crucial role in this redevelopment. Built along an abandoned rail line, the level, multi-use trail is both a source of recreation and helps facilitate transportation on the south side of Bethlehem. The trail can be divided into three segments, each with its own characteristics.
The western section, which stretches from New Street east to Hayes Street, is a tree-lined, urban linear park notable for its numerous works of art that celebrate the ethnic diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods. Other prominent features include a Chinese pavilion, playgrounds and an amphitheater. Flowers planted in numerous gardens along the trail add bright colors in the spring and summer months.
The middle section of the trail extends from Hayes Street east to the skate and BMX park off 6th Street. Like the western section, this portion of the greenway has a smooth, asphalt surface suited to bike riding, inline skating and parents pushing strollers. However, it closely parallels Daly Ave., the main street through South Bethlehem and therefore lacks the serenity of the other two segments. This lack of quiet is offset by the proximity to the old mill complex. Although most of the land has been redeveloped, a few of the buildings remain unused and parts of the old steel mill's infrastructure, including parts of blast furnaces and pipework on the Steelstacks Cultural Center as well as a crane on the entrance to the Wind Creek casino complex, stand testimony to the city's industrial heritage.
The character of the trail changes southeast of the skate and BMX park. This section, which extends from 6th Street to Auburn Street, passes through open space next to a RR yard and in Saucon Park. The asphalt pavement gives way to a rougher, crushed stone surface and connector paths link the trail to adjacent suburbs. Look closely at the southern end of the RR yard and you can see a stub of abandoned track. This is all that is left of the rail line that once extended from Bethlehem south To Quakertown, and whose route the Saucon and Upper Bucks Rail trails now follow. There is also an eagles' nest atop an old yard tower near the trail's southern terminus.
In addition to helping to revive one of eastern PA's major cities, the South Bethlehem Greenway will eventually become a link in a series of multi-use trails that will connect the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton conurbation with the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Plans are afoot to extend the trail south to Hellertown, where it will join the aforementioned Saucon Trail. Other parts of this greenway will include the Upper Bucks Rail, Walnut Bank Farm and Liberty Bell trails.

two distinct sections

We parked at the Water Street Park in Hellertown and took the Saucon Trail to its northern end then took roads to the unique old bridge over the Saucon Creek then to the Greenway. At first the trail surface was okay but it quickly got more rough with areas that washed out and then areas where the washed out stone had collected into a deep soft, difficult to ride through surface. Then just before you get to the paved section there is an area of really large stones. Once you get to the paved section it is a smooth ride with lots of road crossings where almost all of the drivers stopped and waved us through. Please note that I said almost all, it's still best to stop and let the drivers be nice to you rather than just rushing across the roads and annoying drivers or worse getting hit by one. We only did this trail because it is short and close enough to the Saucon that we could ride from one to the other. Oh yes, it was our 149th trail for the year, the Saucon was our 150th. There are lots of short trails in eastern PA.

Bridge over Saucon

The bridge over the Saucon Creek near the Auburn Street trailhead is impressive. A helpful connection for those wanting to go to Bethlehem.

Great for Lehigh off-campus students

Have been running this trail about once a week for a year and a half. It's close to most Lehigh off-Campus houses, so you can walk there in less than two minutes - if you are a Lehigh student like me. The path is lit up at night which makes it feel safe. There's also a gravel part of the path that extends the length of the trail by a half mile. The trail is next to the skatepark which is cool to look at.


Good for cruising on a longboard.

Started down by the NCC building, and went all the way down to the skate park and back on my longboard around noon. Scenery was nice, there was a decent amount of people walking so wasn't bothersome to skating past them with the width of the trail. Only downside is once you make it to the skate park the trail turns into stone so it feels cut short

Short, but a good glid

Helf mile of a slight downhill slope from on smooth pavement makes for a great glide down to city. Push back up to the skate park, or go for another 1/2 mile into town. Crossing a main intersection is the only drawback. Short trail but a fun ride.

Greenway all the way!

Today I biked from the Banana Factory all the way past the official end near the casino (paved to this point) and along a cleared trail (with rough stone and occasional cinder) then a short mountain bike trail to reach the Saucon Rail Trail. So yes, you can now go from South Bethlehem all the way to Upper Saucon Park. Can't wait till this goes all the way to Coopersburg, so we can bike from the Banana Factory to the Coop! The trail in Bethlehem is top-notch, with clearly marked road-crossings and lots of use by locals and the occasional casino sleeper (mostly Asians). The unofficial part has a small trail path in the grass next to the larger stone path. I was able to mostly avoid the large rocks. Be careful as you go under the now defunct High Street Bridge near Hellertown. People have thrown quite a bit of glass off the bridge, which mucks up the trail. A cleanup would be good.

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