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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 08-14-19, 05:12 PM
  #26  
gt3racerich
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
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 The Google Maps Street View footage, which is clearly out of date, shows it as two ways, complete with a median stripe.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.
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply with such detail. I really appreciate it.
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Old 08-15-19, 09:33 PM
  #27  
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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.
It's not worth the trouble in my opinion.
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Old 09-05-19, 06:54 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
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.
I went on a short, but lovely ride, on the PA side from Wash. Crossing to New Hope and back. The PA side is nice and shady and I spoke with a local who told me the NJ side was sunny, especially in the afternoon. If you're coming from PA, just prior to the Scudders Falls Bridge, take that exit (I think it's the last one in PA and marked New Hope), go about a mile west towards the park. There is a gravel parking lot on the right that is next to the path. I'll park there next time to add a couple more miles.

I did stop and sit at a covered picnic table area for about 20 minutes, about 1/2 way to New Hope and tucked my legs below the seat. Beware of fleas! I had more than two dozen bites on the back of my calves, which I suppose I got there, the only time I got off my bike.

Also, be prepared to wash your bike afterwards. It was very dusty and my bike was filthy.

Thanks for the information. I will go back.
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Old 09-14-19, 02:30 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by RECfromPA View Post
I went on a short, but lovely ride, on the PA side from Wash. Crossing to New Hope and back. The PA side is nice and shady and I spoke with a local who told me the NJ side was sunny, especially in the afternoon.
Yes. Below Lambertville the NJ side is relatively exposed compared to the PA side. Above L'Ville, the NJ side is in the shade. While welcome on a hot day, it's an aspect that can make it somewhat boring because you get few views of the river.
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Old 02-11-20, 11:12 PM
  #30  
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I've been thinking of my own version of this:

Day 0: Train from NYC to New Brunswick, ride thirty something miles down the D&R and get a room in Lawrenceville just inside 295 after leaving the trail at the Bakers Basin Rd. Bridge. Did all but a mile of this last weekend as a round trip, it's a bit rougher and messier southwest of Princeton but not bad, the rest of the D&R was just like it is in summer, occasional puddles but otherwise fine.

Day 1: Ride through Trenton just after dawn figuring that's the best time. (Optional plan: don't do the day zero half ride but just take an early train to Trenton). Ride a bit over 68 miles up the NJ or PA side (TBD) and get a room in Bethlehem.

Day 2: Ride 60 miles north to Whitehaven PA and then 4 miles east on the shoulder of rt 940 and get a room just west of 476

Day 3 (wimpy) get up late, break things down, hike to the McDonalds parking lot and take the Amtrak connection bus to Philly and then train or bus back to NYC

Day 3 (determined) ride back down to Allentown, have dinner, break things down and take the 10:40 pm greyhound Allentown-Easton-Newark-NYC bus.

What I like about this is that if the second day were going badly, I could just hang out in Allentown or even Easton and take the bus back. And the last day riding south is optional, though very tempting as going home by way of Philly is quite indirect.

It seems a little silly to start with only a half day, but to do a full day from the D&R would mean going through Trenton at a busier time of day, and then there's not a lot of affordable lodging option in the region north of it. There's a possibility west of New Hope after 55 miles from New Brunswick but I don't relish the mile on rt 202 after the end of the Solebury Township Trail and it would make the next day up to say Leighton rather long.
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Old 02-20-20, 07:11 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
I've been thinking of my own version of this:

Day 0: Train from NYC to New Brunswick, ride thirty something miles down the D&R and get a room in Lawrenceville just inside 295 after leaving the trail at the Bakers Basin Rd. Bridge. Did all but a mile of this last weekend as a round trip, it's a bit rougher and messier southwest of Princeton but not bad, the rest of the D&R was just like it is in summer, occasional puddles but otherwise fine.

Day 1: Ride through Trenton just after dawn figuring that's the best time. (Optional plan: don't do the day zero half ride but just take an early train to Trenton). Ride a bit over 68 miles up the NJ or PA side (TBD) and get a room in Bethlehem.

Day 2: Ride 60 miles north to Whitehaven PA and then 4 miles east on the shoulder of rt 940 and get a room just west of 476
Couple of things...

1. The trail on the NJ side ends just short of Milford, where you have to go up a bumpy dirt road to access the road between Frenchtown and Milford. (The trail does not go through to Milford because there is a Superfund Site that has not been remediated.) Above Milford the rail line is still active. You have to switch to the PA side of you want trail.

2. Between Easton and Bethlehem there are some stretches that are like flat, single track riding in the sense that there is only a narrow portion of the trail visible. The rest is foliage. I will try to remember to post a photo.

3. There is a large gap in the trail between Allentown and Northampton. You have to take roads. Some of them are quite busy. It was frustrating trying to navigate through the area. At least the bridge at Jim Thorpe is open (I think), which means you no longer have to climb over the mountain starting at Bowmanstown.

4. PA 940 towards I-476 is not fun to ride on. At least some part has minimal shoulder, and traffic can be not nice. It's also got hills. The intial section out of White Haven is quite steep. (I spent a night at the campground on PA 940 just east of White Haven during a cross-PA bile tour.) Been a while since I have driven it to I-476, but IIRC, it's mostly up hill heading east. The traffic around the interchange between I-476 and I-80 can be very heavy during certain times of the year. Also, if I-80 is backed up at the interchange some traffic, including truckers, will take PA 940 to skip ahead.

Last edited by indyfabz; 02-20-20 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 02-20-20, 10:17 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
2. Between Easton and Bethlehem there are some stretches that are like flat, single track riding in the sense that there is only a narrow portion of the trail visible. The rest is foliage. I will try to remember to post a photo.
Many thanks for the on-ground perspective! When you say folliage, do you mean grass or weeds narrowing to small worn area, or do you mean encroaching tree branches? I'm relatively okay with narrow surfaces as long as they aren't too rocky and the failure directions don't look deadly. But tree branches get to be an issue - I also sit a bit higher since my bottom bracket is 18" off the ground.

3. There is a large gap in the trail between Allentown and Northampton. You have to take roads. Some of them are quite busy. It was frustrating trying to navigate through the area.
These do have me worried and are something I'm trying to find out more about. They're also a reason I'm reshuffling the thinking to make that day shorter, though I might end doing it both ways.

At least the bridge at Jim Thorpe is open (I think), which means you no longer have to climb over the mountain starting at Bowmanstown.
I heard it opened in the fall.

4. PA 940 towards I-476 is not fun to ride on. At least some part has minimal shoulder, and traffic can be not nice. It's also got hills. The intial section out of White Haven is quite steep. (I spent a night at the campground on PA 940 just east of White Haven during a cross-PA bile tour.) Been a while since I have driven it to I-476, but IIRC, it's mostly up hill heading east. The traffic around the interchange between I-476 and I-80 can be very heavy during certain times of the year. Also, if I-80 is backed up at the interchange some traffic, including truckers, will take PA 940 to skip ahead.
Taking PA 940 east of White Haven never seemed like fun but was prompted by only seeing lodging east towards I476 and not in White Haven itself. I thought I'd checked the whole thing on streetview and found shoulders, but while that does seem to be true of the rural part east of the campground (maybe it's been improved?) right across the river from White Haven itself where there are houses there is indeed no shoulder in spots, including curvy spots. And yes, the hill, at the end of a long day... The whole reason I thought of doing that was that I found there was bus service from the McDonalds parking lot at the interchange, and then found there was lodging too. But that bus goes to Philly not NYC so was never ideal.

When I was originally thinking of this the goal was to prove I could do a series of 60+ mile days in a row, but as I think about it more, a trip like this has to be a goal itself, and I need to build in some margin for its challenges, so thinking more in terms of 50 mile days with time to enjoy things. That leads to something more like this:

1) Early train to Trenton and cross to Morrisville, or even bus to Philly and West Trenton line to Yardley to avoid it all. Shorter day that starts riding on the PA side, possibly cross to NJ at some point, cross back to PA at Frenchtown/Uhlerstown. Overnight at one of a couple of airbnb possibilities on the PA side between Kintersville and Riegelsville (no stores so have to remember to pack food), if getting there early possibly do a quick round trip up to check out the water level at the sometimes flooded spillway south of the I78 bridge.

2) Ride up to JT. If the spillway before I78 is only lightly covered, ride it, if it looks worrisome either take off shoes and wade it, or back up, cross over to Wy Hit Tuk part and take the road (possibly walking) 1.2 miles to the wastewater plant where there looks to be a narrow pedestrian bridge back to the trail (hopefully the reason it is not listed as a trailhead is that there's no parking there, it's an additional 1.2 miles to the trailhead at the forks of the Delaware). Deal with the Allentown-Northampton gaps. Also have to remember to check on some intermittently scheduled closures (for 2020 season) in a stretch somewhere vaguely opposite Palmerton where they're apparently going to be replacing some overhead power lines.

3) Round trip of the Lehigh Gorge from JT up to White Haven and back for a second night in JT, probably some time here to play tourist.

4) If the Allentown/Northampton situation didn't prove too bad, ride back through that to either Allentown or Easton, disassemble the unicycle and get a bus back to NYC. If it did prove bad, Fullington Trailways has bus service to NYC from a place 1.7 miles south of JT, but the road doesn't look great, so that's more a bailout than a plan. Since I'd be packed up small at that point a taxi/uber to there is an option, too.

Last edited by UniChris; 02-20-20 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 02-21-20, 06:08 AM
  #33  
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There were other places that were more closed in, with foliage on both sides and bumpier surfaces. Allentown to Easton was my least favorite part. The signage was also poor in places. Finally caught up to some locals who helped me navigate into easton. Once I got to a point I knew how to get to the Day's Inn, which is not a bad place to stay. No problem with brining my bike in the room.

I started going to Jim Thorpe long before it was as popular as it is today. Not a whole lot to see in town. If you want to visit Thorpe's grave it's on the east side of town, up a big hill.
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Old 02-21-20, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Once I got to a point I knew how to get to the Day's Inn, which is not a bad place to stay.
Sounds perfect... except that it is no more. Apparently it had a bit of a reputation. Closed, purchased by the city of Easton, becoming a parking lot on the way to maybe becoming a science center.

As for the narrow track through the grass, that looks "interesting" but not necessarily problematic - glad to be forewarned to expect it though.
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Old 02-23-20, 05:54 PM
  #35  
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Did a day trip scouting ride, crossing from Trenton to Morrisville and once above Washington Crossing using both sides of the river up to Lumberville & Bull's Island.

​​​​


Overall I think I enjoyed that PA side more, even though it is narrower and some bridges are too low. Water level is embarrassingly low in the D&L, too, more mud ditch than canal in spots, including some very fancy properties with shorelines built for higher water. One section between New Hope and the next bridge up is isolated with dams and a pipe under the trail pumps river water up so they can give boat rides (turns out that operation is long defunct and would require coast guard licensing to renew - can't risk the public on a boat that could sink in 18 inches of water... but there is another further up the trail that still runs)

Did find some soggy spots after crossing to NJ (pickup pulling out with a mud caked MTB on it should have been a clue). Worst conditions were when missed a dogleg under RT 202 on the NJ side below Stockton and stayed on the rail trail. That degraded and got muddy such that I was riding the median of the doubletrack. Partway through I noticed the nice towapath across the canal but couldn't get to it until coming out into a parking lot at Lambertville.

Time to research the Allentown-Northampton road detours and plan my credit card tour!

Last edited by UniChris; 02-25-20 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 02-25-20, 05:18 AM
  #36  
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At the beginning of this thread I mentioned we did a tour with Pocono Biking. They were very helpful to a number of self supported credit card tourists we ran into along the way - Pocono Biking.

You can call them and get the latest on any trail issues even if you aren't using them for shuttle service.
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Old 02-28-20, 11:16 AM
  #37  
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Was just told there's currently effectively no water in the canal itself south of Easton, making the spillway near I78 effectively a non-issue.

From what I understand keeping the water in the canal is complicated - the systems that feed it aren't great to begin with (in the day there were water wheel powered pumps at New Hope, there have also in the past been ecological arguments for removing the dam at Easton originally created to fill the canal which would permanently de-water that portion), but there are also maintenance issues that can cause the water to leak out. Compounding that, endangered turtles burrow into the mud in the bottom of streams to hibernate, and if the water level on top of the mud then drops, they freeze to death. So if they think they're going to have to dewater the canal in winter for maintenance, they have to do it early enough in fall that the turtles pick somewhere else to sleep, then go around and scoop up stranded fish.

But apparently they can re-introduce the water at any time.
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Old 03-09-20, 11:08 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post

up to Lumberville & Bull's Island.

​​​​Worst conditions were when missed a dogleg under RT 202 on the NJ side below Stockton and stayed on the rail trail.
I still lament the loss of the campground at Bull's Island. Was my favorite place to ride from home for a long weekend tour. 60 or so miles from my house. Great for training. The first weekend I stayed there was an Easter weekend. On Good Friday there were a few sites occupied. Saturday night we had the entire place to ourselves. Kind of spooky. Once the Black Bass Hotel re-opened after flood damage you could walk across the pedestrian bridge for a drink at the bar, which was originally in Maxim's of Paris. Alas, repeated flooding damaged the root systems of the large trees. For safety reasons, the state decided to close the campground and fell the trees. When money allows, the plan is to create a nature walk through the former campground.

There is little to no signage at that turn. I missed it once a long time ago. The stretch behind the houses in L'Ville is nice. You can see right into peoples' lives.
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Old 03-10-20, 09:34 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I still lament the loss of the campground at Bull's Island. Was my favorite place to ride from home for a long weekend tour. 60 or so miles from my house. Great for training. The first weekend I stayed there was an Easter weekend. On Good Friday there were a few sites occupied. Saturday night we had the entire place to ourselves. Kind of spooky. Once the Black Bass Hotel re-opened after flood damage you could walk across the pedestrian bridge for a drink at the bar, which was originally in Maxim's of Paris. Alas, repeated flooding damaged the root systems of the large trees. For safety reasons, the state decided to close the campground and fell the trees. When money allows, the plan is to create a nature walk through the former campground.
Sounds like it was a great place, too bad the campground is gone. I've not really looked around much - first ride through I determined the bathrooms were closed, so this weekend just took a brief saddle break where the trail crosses. The fact that I can make good time on the path above and below there has been key - contrastingly the double tracks and drop off to the river on the PA side between Centre Bridge and Lumberville had me a little more stressed so I'm now choosing the NJ side for the middle portion crossing back to PA at Frenchtown-Ulherstown.

Notice a lot of people riding the parallel road, too.



There is little to no signage at that turn. I missed it once a long time ago.
Northbound on Sunday I was looking for the turn near the rt 202 bridge above Stockton where the canal path switches to the rail trail, what I hadn't expected in taking it with a large radius was to "drop" a railroad track as the east side of it was embedded in the trail but the west side of the west rail was bare. Thought I was coming off for a minute but regained control. Not that I didn't "spill" at the crest leaving a spillway early on, and several other times throughout the ride up to Easton and Monday's right back, fortunately only to my feet. The landing and runout from the railroad track was rocky enough I might have gone down unpleasantly.

The other one to keep an eye on are the drainage gulleys hiding in shadow under the camelback bridges on the PA side.

The stretch behind the houses in L'Ville is nice. You can see right into peoples' lives.
There are a lot of stretches like this, both where you see houses across the canal and those much more intimate with the trail (on the PA side even having it as their driveway). And some really stately places along the D&L. I can't make up my mind if living there would be nice or not, on the one hand picturesque and convenient, on the other loss of privacy, a PA-side canal that's often little more than a dried up mud ditch, and a wonder if it's mosquito habitat. Bugs in the eyes made it hard to avoid touching my face at times.
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Old 03-10-20, 09:47 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Notice a lot of people riding the parallel road, too.
SR 29 is very popular with cyclists. Every so often in the spring they have time trial races on it. It has a wide shoulder between a point a bit north of the center of Stockton and its end on Frenchtown. Sections of it have been resurfaced relatively recently. I have finished numerous multi-day tours riding home to Philly after camping in Upper Black Eddy. I always cross into Milford, NJ, take the road to the dirt road that leads to the trail, then get off the trail in Frenchtown and take SR 29 to Stockton then get on the trail again. BTW...The store in the former Stockton train station is pretty well stocked for something of its size and usually has good, pre-made breakfast sandwiches in the morning and fried chicken later in the day.
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Old 03-10-20, 10:14 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
BTW...The store in the former Stockton train station is pretty well stocked for something of its size and usually has good, pre-made breakfast sandwiches in the morning and fried chicken later in the day.
I've actually found it really hard to get what I'm looking for in little touristy towns. Typically (at least in a season when fountains aren't on) that's a bottle of water and maybe something packaged. Tried on my first ride to get a deli sandwich there but am always feeling like I'm burning too much time on stops so a line, or a family all placing orders tends to lead to walking out empty handed. I did get water at that store northbound on Sunday, mistake was not getting more in Frenchtown as I then ran out on the muddy section in PA between Ringing rocks and Kintersville. But if one has a more relaxed day where just getting to the end of the ride by dark is not a worry, then I could see some of the tourist options being a nice break.

Incidentally, here is about what I've found for quick stop water + prepackaged options:

Morrisville - plenty of choices like 7-11 near entrance to trail, etc. On return got a collapse-preventing soda sugar & caffeine hit and a bag of chips at tobacconist on the north just before the bridge to Trenton.

Washington Crossing, maybe something on the road ride from the D&L to the bridge, not much on the NJ side.

New Hope - finally discovered an out-of-place bodega on the south side as the hill starts up from the bridge. Lumberville there's a gas station mart several blocks east.

Stockton - store in the train station. Big trendy food court place on the north side of the street but nothing fast in there. Not aware of anything on the PA side.

Bull's Island - nothing (bathrooms but only in season). On the PA side Black Bass cafe does I think have water but on a nice early spring afternoon was quoted 45 minutes for a simple turkey sandwich.

Frenchtown - went a few blocks back to the Citgo station, bike shop also has water but closes early afternoon to go riding. Sunbeam General Store on front street might work but closed early in the week. Nothing in Uhlerstown which is just a few private homes / farms.

Kintersville-Riegelsville - Exxon station with big sign across from the canal was somewhat literally a lifesaver as I'd run out of fluids negotiating some soggy trail in the sun. Unclear what Traugers Farm Market has, they were closed on Sunday and then southbound refilled at the Exxon rather than take my chances.

Easton - worth noting there's not much on the west/south bank, would have to cross the river into town.

Also worth noting I basically did not have phone signal between marginal connection in New Hope / Lumberville and then Frenchtown / Uhlerstown. Nothing in Stockton or Bull's Island - was going to make my room reservation from Stockton but ended up not being able to do it until Frenchtown, at which point I'd exceeded my same day return range.

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Old 03-10-20, 01:05 PM
  #42  
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Seriously, Strava?

Someone creates a segment with an absurdly erroneous -324 foot starting elevation that turns a half mile of dead-flat canal towpath into a 22% climb, and you can't actually report it???

Last edited by UniChris; 03-10-20 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 03-17-20, 11:07 AM
  #43  
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UniChris, I'm curious did you only go as far as Easton?
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Old 03-18-20, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post

Frenchtown - went a few blocks back to the Citgo station, bike shop also has water but closes early afternoon to go riding. Sunbeam General Store on front street might work but closed early in the week.
There is a market in Frenchtown. Go a few blocks north on Harrison towards Milford and turn right on 6th:

Frenchtown Market

If you go off the beaten path in L'Ville there is a natural foods place and a good coffee at the north end of Union St.

What phone service do you have? When I had T-Mobile it sucked in that area. In L'Ville, if you went a few blocks in from the river you basically had no service.
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Old 04-28-20, 04:55 PM
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Rode the Jim Thorpe bridge last weekend. Nice. Started in Weisport and headed north to Penn Haven Junction to scout a stealth camping location. About 25 miles round trip.




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Old 05-12-20, 02:28 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Rode the Jim Thorpe bridge last weekend. Nice. Started in Weisport and headed north to Penn Haven Junction to scout a stealth camping location. About 25 miles round trip.....
Last week I did my Birthday ride, 62 miles for 62 years. Started same place Weissport but went to Middleburg Rd which is about 2 miles north of White Haven then back. I had the trail all to myself until I crossed the Jim Thorpe bridge on the way back. There, I ran into a lot of rude trail users. But the main objective I had was to make this ride non-stop which I did.

I think I'm going to make this a weekly thing. I have Fridays off until September.

BTW at Penn Haven Junction there is a trail to the left (when riding upstream) that takes you to Weatherly. I think it's about 5 miles. I haven't ridden it but people that I know who have tell me it's a bone shaker.
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Old 05-13-20, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
BTW at Penn Haven Junction there is a trail to the left (when riding upstream) that takes you to Weatherly. I think it's about 5 miles. I haven't ridden it but people that I know who have tell me it's a bone shaker.
That's not a trail. It's an access road for the RBN. I rode it up to Weatherly BITD. It was really rough.
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