As a lover of nature, I'm always on the lookout for new parks and trails to try out.

Recently, on a drive through Slatington I noticed signage and an attractive trailhead as I entered town, after crossing the bridge from Walnutport. I decided to stop and check it out, and discovered that the trail along the west bank of the river here is part of the vast Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) trail system that extends 165 miles (minus a couple gaps) from White Haven in the north to Bristol in the south.

IMG_20140902_111459Many of you are probably already familiar with the section of the D&L that passes through the Lehigh Valley, paralleling the Lehigh Canal and the river, but that's just one piece of this incredible recreational resource.

Let's start by talking about the amenities. At the Slatington trailhead are a large picnic pavilion, restrooms, a paved parking area and access to stores that sell snacks and drinks hikers and bikers might crave on a warm fall day.

South of the Main Street crossing, the D&L connects with the Slate Heritage Trail, which meanders for several miles westward along the Trout Creek. I didn't get a chance to walk this offshoot, but according to the TrailLink website, it features interpretive signs that highlight the history of the slate industry in the area, along with benches, restrooms and a covered bridge. So, consider this intersecting trail for a side trip.

IMG_20140826_121344Back on the D&L you have several options for destinations, heading out from Slatington. If you travel north about a mile-and-a-half you'll reach the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, where the Lehigh River cuts through Blue Mountain, also known as the Kittatinny Ridge. From the gap, you can continue north to Palmerton.

Back in Slatington, from the trailhead, you can head east across the bridge to a parallel section of the D&L that runs along the east bank of the river in Walnutport. A restored lock and lock tender's house are part of the pretty canal park there.

On my visit, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll up and down the section of the D&L in Slatington, along with a brief detour to the Walnutport side of the river. Although it was unseasonably warm, I took notice of some early signs of autumn as I hiked. I would love to return when the colors are at their peak in a month or so, as I'm sure the foliage along this particular stretch will be gorgeously dressed in hues of amber and red. I hope you'll have a chance to check it out too!

Josh Popichak is an independent digital journalist who focuses his news coverage on the Saucon Valley. He has edited or written for several area print and online publications, including Hellertown-Lower Saucon Patch, The Bethlehem Press and the former Saucon News. His interests include history, politics, media, food and travel. A Bethlehem native, he lives in Fountain Hill with Ziggy, his cat. Follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@JoshPopichak).