A transformative journey begins as you turn off of 15th street in Allentown into the Lehigh Parkway.Quickly, the urban atmosphere fades into a long stone wall that was built as a WPA project during the 1930s.After crossing an open grate bridge, I park and step out of the car, feeling as far away from Allentown as Dorothy felt landing in Oz.

A great green expanse, stretching over 700 feet into the distance, is at my feet.A large riparian buffer is established on the banks of the Little Lehigh, providing excellent opportunities for birders and amateur naturalists to catch a glimpse of wildlife. (It’s part of an ongoing project to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in Allentown’s park system.)

Follow the paved trail toward the old lime kilns.At one time, Lehigh Parkway was to serve as a main thoroughfare for a proposed rail system.After the railroad bust in the 1850s, the plans were abandoned and all that remains are a few lime kilns and an old wooden rail trestle that is visible at Schreiber’s Bridge, where the paved trail that began in the parking lot turns back on its loop.

While the paved trail provides excellent views of nature, there are side trails through the woods that serve to fulfill the desires of a more adventurous naturalist. The easiest woodland trail to access is just off the paved trail near the parking lot.It cuts up through the forest towards a nearby street before dropping back and ending on the paved trail.

The experience of the Lehigh Parkway in Allentown is unparallel in Lehigh Valley – there is no other park like it around here. And the journey I have shared here is only a fraction of the possible footsteps you could plant in the Parkway.

This post was written by Lehigh Valley InSite guest blogger Andrew Kleiner, who also writes the Remember blog.