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Biking the Delaware and Lehigh Trail from Black Diamond PA to Washington Crossing PA

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Biking the Delaware and Lehigh Trail from Black Diamond PA to Washington Crossing PA

Old 06-17-19, 04:06 AM
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Biking the Delaware and Lehigh Trail from Black Diamond PA to Washington Crossing PA

Last week my wife and I went on a supported group ride, mostly on the Delaware and Lehigh trail with a bit of the Delaware and Raritan trail on the NJ side of the Delaware River on the last day. I've posted a CycleBlaze journal on the 4 day ride here.

Short summary on trail conditions: of the 135 miles total, about 128 or so was trail - there are a still a few segments where you have to get on roads. The first 9 miles or so from the Black Diamond parking area were fairly smooth double track, not rail trail. North of Bethlehem there were a few sections of "unimproved" trail, with was essentially like riding on very rutted and rock strewn double track. Other than that, great surfaces.

There is a bridge in Jim Thorpe that is needed to make it contiguous biking through that area, but it was delayed - the current estimate for opening is 1 July 2019.

Last edited by jpescatore; 07-29-19 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 06-18-19, 02:17 PM
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Enjoyed the write-up and the pics. Very nice. Looks like a great time.
Your trip passed through a lot of the area I grew up in, and just about all of your pics looked familiar to me.
One thing (day two of your entry): the Saylor Park Cement Kilns are in Coplay, not "Cosplay".
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Old 06-19-19, 04:26 AM
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Thanks for catching that - fixed!
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Old 07-02-19, 03:49 AM
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Thank you for your write up!


I live 35 miles from Washington Crossing, but am not familiar with the bike trails there. A round trip (or two) to New Hope on each side sounds like a nice afternoon trip. Is it fairly flat? Other than the rain and mud and geese (so I realize that you might not be able to tell) any appreciable differences or preferences on the NJ vs PA side?


Thank you.

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Old 07-02-19, 05:08 AM
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From Washington Crossing to New Hope is table flat. If both sides were dry, I'd probably prefer the PA side, which had more views of the river. On the NJ side, the canal seemed to veer further from the river and was more by a road. The NJ side also got more confusing and fragmented as you neared Lambertville.

So, if it was dry and I could only do one side I'd probably do PA but you could make a nice 16 mile loop and do both - I'm pretty sure the bridge at Lambertville has a sidewalk for bikers/peds.
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Old 07-02-19, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RECfromPA View Post
Thank you for your write up!


I live 35 miles from Washington Crossing, but am not familiar with the bike trails there. A round trip (or two) to New Hope on each side sounds like a nice afternoon trip. Is it fairly flat? Other than the rain and mud and geese (so I realize that you might not be able to tell) any appreciable differences or preferences on the NJ vs PA side?


Thank you.
Having ridden both sides of the Delaware river from Millerton to Washington's Crossing, the PA side trail is somewhat rougher, mostly a dirt trail, double track to single track. The NJ side is wider packed dirt/gravel. On the NJ side it's on road from Frenchtown to Millerton. You could ride all this stretch on a road bike with 28mm tires, I use 32's. The RT Washingtons's Crossing to Millerton, up one side, back the other is 52 miles.

You can also head over to the Delaware - Raritan Canal Trail, starts in Trenton and heads 38 miles to New Brunswick. That's a nice ride as well.
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Old 07-02-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Having ridden both sides of the Delaware river from Millerton to Washington's Crossing, the PA side trail is somewhat rougher, mostly a dirt trail, double track to single track. The NJ side is wider packed dirt/gravel. On the NJ side it's on road from Frenchtown to Millerton. You could ride all this stretch on a road bike with 28mm tires, I use 32's. The RT Washingtons's Crossing to Millerton, up one side, back the other is 52 miles.

You can also head over to the Delaware - Raritan Canal Trail, starts in Trenton and heads 38 miles to New Brunswick. That's a nice ride as well.

********************************************

jpescatore wrote: From Washington Crossing to New Hope is table flat. If both sides were dry, I'd probably prefer the PA side, which had more views of the river. On the NJ side, the canal seemed to veer further from the river and was more by a road. The NJ side also got more confusing and fragmented as you neared Lambertville.

So, if it was dry and I could only do one side I'd probably do PA but you could make a nice 16 mile loop and do both - I'm pretty sure the bridge at Lambertville has a sidewalk for bikers/peds. .
Thank you both! I'll definitely do a loop to experience them both, especially now that I know a bit of what to expect.

Roberta

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Old 07-02-19, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Having ridden both sides of the Delaware river from Millerton to Washington's Crossing, the PA side trail is somewhat rougher, mostly a dirt trail, double track to single track. The NJ side is wider packed dirt/gravel. On the NJ side it's on road from Frenchtown to Millerton. You could ride all this stretch on a road bike with 28mm tires, I use 32's. The RT Washingtons's Crossing to Millerton, up one side, back the other is 52 miles.

You can also head over to the Delaware - Raritan Canal Trail, starts in Trenton and heads 38 miles to New Brunswick. That's a nice ride as well.
Any sense on, er, "urban safety" in doing the feeder canal section northwest from the train station in Trenton? I've heard a number of people expressing concerns about the last stretch of the main canal (coming down from Princeton) into Trenton - including the friend I've recently ridden parts further east with - yet others saying just go in daylight and ride through.
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Old 07-03-19, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
On the NJ side it's on road from Frenchtown to Millerton.
I think you mean Milford. You can actually continue on the trail north of Frenchtown for maybe a mile or so, but then it abruptly ends. There is a dirt/gravel road that will take you up to the paved country road to Milford. The trail ends where it does because of a Superfund site that was a former industrial park.
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Old 07-03-19, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I think you mean Milford. You can actually continue on the trail north of Frenchtown for maybe a mile or so, but then it abruptly ends. There is a dirt/gravel road that will take you up to the paved country road to Milford. The trail ends where it does because of a Superfund site that was a former industrial park.
Correct, Milford. We skipped the trail out of Frenchtown and just did the road to Milford.
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Old 07-03-19, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Correct, Milford. We skipped the trail out of Frenchtown and just did the road to Milford.
Going north, riding the road is more convenient because the dirt road that takes you up to the road from the trail is a bit rough and somewhat steep. I have only ridden it going south. If you are ever in the area again and haven't done so, the road along the river north of Milford is quite nice, although there is a noticeable climb heading north. You can ride up, cross the Roebling bridge into Riegelsville, PA, have lunch outside at the inn right at the end of the bridge and the ride south on the PA tail.

The Harlem Valley Trail out of Millerton, NY is quite nice. I have ridden it twice during tours home from VT.
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Old 07-03-19, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Any sense on, er, "urban safety" in doing the feeder canal section northwest from the train station in Trenton?
I've had no problems riding my bike in Trenton on or adjacent to the canal towpath, both main and feeder. Be attentive to the same cues on which you rely in any urban setting.

Continuity between the main canal and the feeder canal improves, but remains somewhat sketchy. The good news: where there are gaps, you're never far from the city's streets.

Worth adding: my experience is that Trenton mostly shuts down over weekends. On the one hand, this means motor traffic is light (for a city) on weekends. On the other hand, services and amenities are limited.

Hidden Trenton is an excellent resource.

And I can't resist starting a food fight: the best Trenton tomato pie isn't in Trenton; it's across the river in Morrisville: La Villa Restaurant It absolutely belongs in this thread because of its bicycle-friendly location: convenient to the D&L tow-path on the PA side of the river.
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Old 07-21-19, 07:45 AM
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Even tho the PA side is rougher surface wise, I prefer it due to the better scenery of the river. I do it on 32c road tires or Knobbies with no issues.
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Old 07-22-19, 06:30 AM
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Approaching Jim Thorpe

Rode from Bethlehem to Jim Thorpe this weekend,7/20,on the D&L. The trail was orange barrier closed starting at the overhead RR bridge before town north of Weisport.The new trail surface is being installed and there are dozers and rollers working.The new bridge into town is still closed. I'm guessing a couple of weeks until this section is opened.
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Old 07-22-19, 07:56 AM
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I've come down the PA side from Easton on my way to a campground in Upper Black Eddy during multi-day tours several times. I usually ride the trail to Riegelsville then get off, cross the Roebling bridge to NJ and take the roads to Milford, NJ. That section of the trail does have some river views. There are also bathrooms as water. But I find it monotonous in places. The roads on the NJ side are nice and pretty low traffic. There is also a relatively new boat launch area that allows you to get right down to the water.
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Old 08-12-19, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by car knocker View Post
Rode from Bethlehem to Jim Thorpe this weekend,7/20,on the D&L. The trail was orange barrier closed starting at the overhead RR bridge before town north of Weisport.The new trail surface is being installed and there are dozers and rollers working.The new bridge into town is still closed. I'm guessing a couple of weeks until this section is opened.
There is nothing but Joy in Carbon County as the 4.5 million dollar bridge from the sewer plant to the parking lot was opened today 9:00AM.

Trail users can take satisfaction in knowing that this project is almost 3 years behind schedule and a million plus dollars over budget. But there is pure joy so thick you can almost see it.
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Old 08-13-19, 05:06 AM
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They must have used the same company that built the $330K restroom in the Delaware Water Gap years ago...
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Old 08-13-19, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
They must have used the same company that built the $330K restroom in the Delaware Water Gap years ago...
It is not so much the selected contractors but rather the D&L Heritage Corridor which tends to be overly optimistic when publicizing the trail and time tables for projects.

About two weeks ago, the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Rail Road started work on the grade crossing at Middleburg Rd just north of White Haven. With that construction, the trail gets it's own grade crossing. You probably remember taking the detour your first day. The Rail Road has the entire road blocked so you literally cannot pass through the Black Diamond section. The D&L misinformation center promised us that this crossing would be completed sometime in 2018 which never happened. No one knows when the road will be reopened.

So the good news of the opening of the Mansion House bridge over the Lehigh in Jim Thorpe comes with bad news in the Black Diamond section.

Anyway, I live near Lehighton and use the trail often. I'm also a member of the Jim Thorpers Bicycle Team. The section between Lehighton and Slatington (10 miles each way) is solid enough that we use our road bikes for training. You might find it interesting that instead of calling it The Lehighton Trail Head, it is referred to as Dunbar's in honor of the beer distributor right there near the parking lot.

The section of the D&L (that you prolly didn't ride) between the new bridge and Weissport uses the old Lehigh Canal towpath and is one of the nicest sections of the entire D&L. I'm very proud that 75% of that section is in my township. When you use TrailLink to get info on the D&L, the banner photo of the trail that is displayed is taken from that section between the bridge and Weissport.

Also in Weissport is the location of colonial era Fort Allen which was designed by Ben Franklin. The water well is still there. Weissport was the location of workshops that were used to repair the canal boats.

Another tid bit. Where the trail transitions from the Lehigh River to the Delaware River at Easton, this area is known as The Forks of the Delaware. Some of the associates of the great preacher Jonathan Edwards preached to the Indians in that area in the18th century and the Second Great Awakening. There was a canal The Morris Canal in Phillipsburg NJ. just across the river that went east to New Brunswick. No trails there today but some ruins are there. They would use a cable system to ferry canal boats from the Lehigh Canal, across the Delaware then onto the Morris Canal. This allowed the eastern PA Anthrocite coal to get to New York City markets.

I'm glad you enjoyed your ride on the D&L. It is sometimes hard to comprehend that Jim Thorpe/Lehighton is less than 100 miles west of New York City.

Last edited by Thomas15; 08-13-19 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 08-13-19, 02:06 PM
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Could I ask how the trail is between Easton and Jim Thorpe? I regularly ride the roads and trails mentioned between Easton and Washington's Crossing on a road bike. I probably ride two thirds on the road but regularly pop on to the trail with no problem. Would I be able to do that between Easton and Jim Thorpe or is the trail rougher?

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Old 08-13-19, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gt3racerich View Post
Could I ask how the trail is between Easton and Jim Thorpe? I regularly ride the roads and trails mentioned between Easton and Washington's Crossing on a road bike. I probably ride two thirds on the road but regularly pop on to the trail with no problem. Would I be able to do that between Easton and Jim Thorpe or is the trail rougher?
As long as you understand that there is an approx. 7 mile gap in the trail between Allentown and Northampton. To bridge the gap you will be riding on roads.

Yes the section from Northampton to the bridge in Jim Thorpe is ok to use a road bike. When I going north from Glen Onoko I take my mountain bike as the trail through the Lehigh Gorge is soft in places. There are a few rough spots between Easton and Allentown but the trail from Northampton to JT is very good and hard packed. I ride that section all the time on my road bike with 700X25 tires,
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Old 08-13-19, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
As long as you understand that there is an approx. 7 mile gap in the trail between Allentown and Northampton. To bridge the gap you will be riding on roads.

Yes the section from Northampton to the bridge in Jim Thorpe is ok to use a road bike. When I going north from Glen Onoko I take my mountain bike as the trail through the Lehigh Gorge is soft in places. There are a few rough spots between Easton and Allentown but the trail from Northampton to JT is very good and hard packed. I ride that section all the time on my road bike with 700X25 tires,
Thank you for the reply. I will start heading north this week.
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Old 08-14-19, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
The section of the D&L (that you prolly didn't ride) between the new bridge and Weissport uses the old Lehigh Canal towpath and is one of the nicest sections of the entire D&L. I'm very proud that 75% of that section is in my township. When you use TrailLink to get info on the D&L, the banner photo of the trail that is displayed is taken from that section between the bridge and Weissport.

...

I'm glad you enjoyed your ride on the D&L. It is sometimes hard to comprehend that Jim Thorpe/Lehighton is less than 100 miles west of New York City.
Because the bridge wasn't finished, we were shuttled from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton, so we saw just a little bit of the D&L to Weissport - really nice riding.

We really enjoyed the variety of the D&L. There were many stretches that weren't fun in the rain or after the rain. Kinda like the C&O Canal towpath around here. But, the variety of scenery was great - it wasn't just a green tunnel for mile after mile.

The only other negative was south of Easton we were constantly running the gauntlet of the gaggles of geese blocking the path. Generally yelling and riding fast right at them worked the best - the kindle gentler approach ("On your left, gooses") often resulted in a few few big hissers going after us. But, my wife is experienced in drafting behind me on windy days- she enjoyed goose drafting, too...
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Old 08-14-19, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Because the bridge wasn't finished, we were shuttled from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton, so we saw just a little bit of the D&L to Weissport - really nice riding.

We really enjoyed the variety of the D&L. There were many stretches that weren't fun in the rain or after the rain. Kinda like the C&O Canal towpath around here. But, the variety of scenery was great - it wasn't just a green tunnel for mile after mile.

The only other negative was south of Easton we were constantly running the gauntlet of the gaggles of geese blocking the path. Generally yelling and riding fast right at them worked the best - the kindle gentler approach ("On your left, gooses") often resulted in a few few big hissers going after us. But, my wife is experienced in drafting behind me on windy days- she enjoyed goose drafting, too...

A few things to look for:

After you cross the new trail bridge in Jim Thorpe, you will be in the Carbon County parking lot. It is about a mile long, but at the far end it rejoins the D&L. After you cross under the newish Rt. 903 road bridge, look over to the left you will see an old fashioned train turn table still intact. Continue on the trail for about a mile and you will re-cross the Lehigh River using the Nesquehoning Junction trestle. Very scenic part of the river. The trail shares the trestle with a working rail road. As you come into the George you will pass thru an old train thru truss bridge. In that area, on the other side of the road up the hill is the pit that used to house the CNJ turn table. If you stay on the D&L just as you come into the Glen you will cross the river again, this bridge shares the trail with the road, it is a wood plank bridge deck. This is where you will see kids diving into the river. It is also the location of the Glen Onoko river path that was closed this year due to the high volume of rescues. I'm a member of my local volunteer fire company and while we usually don't respond to rescue calls there, I have been on two rescues in the last two years and they are major operations and very time consuming. On the right side of the road up the hill is the abandoned rail tunnel, secure your bike and hike up to it is worth the effort to walk the length of the tunnel which ends abruptly at the river about 25 feet above.

That is about as far as you will get on the trail with a road bike. I have seen riders on road bikes all the way to White Haven but there are some soft spots. Just depends on how much desire you have to experience the trail. The trail itself is flat.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
As long as you understand that there is an approx. 7 mile gap in the trail between Allentown and Northampton. To bridge the gap you will be riding on roads.

Yes the section from Northampton to the bridge in Jim Thorpe is ok to use a road bike. When I going north from Glen Onoko I take my mountain bike as the trail through the Lehigh Gorge is soft in places. There are a few rough spots between Easton and Allentown but the trail from Northampton to JT is very good and hard packed. I ride that section all the time on my road bike with 700X25 tires,

Thomas, one more question if I may.
Is it fairly easy to figure out how to get past the seven mile closed section in Allentown (on the road)? I am not familiar with the area at all.
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Old 08-14-19, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by gt3racerich View Post
Thomas, one more question if I may.
Is it fairly easy to figure out how to get past the seven mile closed section in Allentown (on the road)? I am not familiar with the area at all.
I found it frustrating. The gap in the trail actually starts across the river from Northampton, PA. You cross the river on PA 329/21st Street. You then have to pick your way south through Northampton, N. Catasaqua and Catasaqua. I eventually ended up on Lehigh St., which turns into N. Dauphin. At the intersection of N. Dauphin and N. Bradford I had planned to make a right onto N. Bradford, which takes you right to the trail. (You can see this all on Google Maps.) However, it turns out that N. Bradford is now a one way street going north. The Google Maps Street View footage, which is clearly out of date, shows it as two ways, complete with a median stripe. I had to sit by the side of the road and use my iPhone to sketch out a circuitous route got me to the trail. This (or close to it) is what I did:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30843818

You cannot take that cutoff from E. James. It's a private road through a concrete plant. Hanover St. was very busy, and the residential neighborhood you go through after that might make some uncomfortable. In hindsight, I should have just gone the wrong way on N. Bradford. The distance would not have been great. The entire time I was sketching out my route not one car came out of N. Bradford. And if the street were once wide enough for two lanes there should be room to move over in the event you do encounter an oncoming vehicle.

As for how exactly I got to Lehigh St. I am not certain, but I am pretty sure I ended up on Race St. and made a left onto Lehigh. May have been Main St. in Northampton to 4th to Bridge to 2nd St. to Race to Lehigh. I just remember it seemed to lake forever with stop signs and some lights.

Of course, if you are headed north only you don't have to worry about N. Bradford being one way.
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