LEHIGH GORGE STATE PARK:
JIM THORPE-WHITE HAVEN, PENNSYLVANIA
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated: August 3, 2014
Length: D&L Trail (Jim Thorpe-White Haven); 24 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Stone-dust rail trail with a slight grade from White Haven to Jim Thorpe..
To Start from Jim Thorpe; From I-476 take exit 74 to Route 209 south. After you enter Jim Thorpe look right for the parking lot (parking fee). Enter and turn left to the end of the parking lot. For free parking continue on Route 209 and turn right over the River St bridge, then left on Front St/Main St. Turn left for Lehigh Gorge SP. You'll come alongside the trail where you'll find multiple parking areas.
To start from White Haven; From I-80 take Exit 273 to Route 940 east. Travel 0.3 miles and turn right on Berwick St (Route 940). Cross main St and turn right into the White Haven Shopping Center. Go through the shopping center parking lot and bear left. Here you'll find POCONO BIKING and the shuttle drop-off spot. Continue straight for the D&L State Park parking lot.
The D&L Trail follows the 165-mile route that anthracite coal took from mine to market. It winds through northern mountains and along the banks of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers through northeast Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley and through Bucks County. The D&L Trail passes through towns, industrial powerhouses and along remnants of the Lehigh & Delaware Canals. Some sections of the trail run along the old towpaths and other sections travel along old rail trails. The plan is to create a continuous stone-dust trail, however, at present some sections still utilize a natural hard packed dirt & grass surface, while a few sections are still undeveloped. See D&L Trail Map below for individual segments. For another segment I've visited along the D&L Trail, See; D&L Trail; Lehigh Canal South . For finished segments I have not yet visited but provide information, See; D&L Trail; Lehigh Canal Towpath , D&L Trail; East Penn-Northampton. For more information visit; D&L TRAIL , LEHIGH GORGE SP & RAILS to TRAILS .
Starting from the Pocono Biking center in White Haven; A gravel road takes you south from the POCONO BIKING center [I took the shuttle from Jim Thorpe to White Haven] through the D&L State Park parking lot, underneath I-80 and to the trailhead at 0.3 miles.
Note; You may also access the northern section of the D&L Trail by traveling north through the parking lot and crossing Berwick St. Follow the paved road to the trailhead. See; D&L Trail; Mountaintop-White Haven .
The hard packed gravel trail travels underneath a RR bridge and passes by Mile Marker 128 after 0.7 miles. Markers every mile along the trail. The Lehigh River parallels the trail way below on your left. Well shaded trail. Cross Tannery Rd at 1.5 miles and pass by the Tannery Road parking lot. Here you'll find an informational sign as the trail improves to stone-dust. You travel along a ridge with tons of Rhododendrons. At 2.8 miles look left to spot some old bridge piers in the river. Cross an old double tracked RR bridge over Sandy Run at 3.9 miles. Soon you'll be able to spot a set of RR tracks across the river that travel from White Haven to Jim Thorpe. There are also signs located along the trail that let you know the distances between locations. Pass by an informational sign for Lock 22 at 6.4 miles.
Note; Hiking down the trail I didn't find any remnants of this lock. However, you can access the river and spot a beautiful stone arched RR bridge across the river where Mud Run enters the river.
Just past Mile Marker 120 after 9 miles you'll come to Buttermilk Falls and a bridge. Next you'll cross over Buck Mt Creek and come to the Rockport parking lot at 9.3 miles. [This is another shuttle drop-off for a shorter trip back to Jim Thorpe]. Restrooms located here. River level now. Pass Lukes Falls at 9.6 miles. Just past the falls on your right is some sort of stone structure? Pass a small cascading waterfall at 10.8 miles. Pass a red mileage sign on your left at 11.7 miles. Look across the river to spot another stone-arched RR bridge across Drakes Creek. At 13 miles find a sign for Stony Creek. Look left to spot a RR bridge across the river. Cross a RR bridge over Black Creek and come to some RR tracks at 16 miles. Here is where the RR tracks from the opposite bank of the river cross over. This is called Penn Haven where three railroads converged. Informational sign here. Travel between the tracks then left across one set. The trail now travels between the river and the RR tracks which become elevated. Pass by Bear Creek tributary at 18.6 miles. After 21.7 miles you share the road as you enter Glen Onoko. Parking lot located here along with a Porto-Potty, picnic tables and map board. A dirt path leads down to the river. Cross the wooden bridge over the river and look left to spot a tunnel opening in the side of the mountain above the river. That's the remnants of an old RR tunnel. The trail continues briefly on-road until you come to another parking lot on your left at 22 miles. I refer to this as the Tunnel parking lot as you can access the old RR tunnel from here. At the back of the stone-dust parking lot is the entrance to the tunnel.
Note; This is where you'll find a partially covered entrance for an old double tracked RR tunnel. If you walk through the tunnel it ends above the river where you can still see the old stone RR supports. Caution; the tunnel has an unsupported roof and you can see where rocks have fallen in the past. Pass at your own risk.
The trail picks up on your right traveling between the RR tracks and the road for a short distance before bearing right over a trestle bridge alongside the tracks at 22.5 miles. You'll cross over even more RR tracks. Pass by dirt trail leading down to the D&L Canals Lock 2 on your left. You can still make out some of the old canal from the trail. Next you'll cross a bridge over the river where another set of tracks come in from your right. The trail now travels between the tracks and river. Pass by a rail yard full of old cabooses and rail cars at 23.6 miles. Come to a map board and the Jim Thorpe parking lot at 23.9 miles.
Note; Continue through the parking lot and you'll come to the old RR Station, which is now a Visitor Center, at 24.3 miles. Across the street from the train station is the POCONO BIKING center. Be sure to check out the historic town of Jim Thorpe, which was formerly known as Mauch Chunk, a Leni Lenape Indian name which means "Bear Mountain." The steep hillsides, narrow streets, and terraced gardens earned Mauch Chunk the nickname “The Switzerland of America.” The formation of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the 1850s brought prosperity to the area as it carried anthracite coal and other goods to market and promoted Mauch Chunk as an excursion destination. In the 1870s, competition came with the arrival of the Central Railroad of New Jersey and a second mainline that paralleled the LVRR through the region. The recently renovated former Central Railroad of New Jersey Station is now a visitor center & museum (restrooms). Next to the old RR station is the ticket office for the LEHIGH GORGE SCENIC RAILWAY which offers 16 mile round trip excursions through Lehigh Gorge. You'll also want to check out the “Old Mauch Chunk Historic District.” Many buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Travel up Race St (across from the RR station) then loop back down Broadway.
Note; The Switchback Railroad Trail travels from Summit Hill west to Jim Thorpe along the old Switchback Gravity RR .
Note; To continue the trail south you'll have to exit the parking lot to Lehigh Ave (Route 209) and head right (north). Turn right on Route 903 and cross over the river. Take your first right on Laurel Lane and come to a parking lot on your right after 0.5 miles. Pass through the parking lot to a dirt road that travels south alongside the RR tracks. Follow this road to a RR crossing over to a sewage treatment plant. From what I've gathered from other bikers you'll need to travel right around the treatment plant, past a lock and you'll come to the trailhead on the eastern side of the treatment plant. See; D&L Trail; Lehigh Canal North .
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