Regardless of where you are in Lehigh Valley, you’re never far from a scenic walk. And depending on what kind of walker you are—whether you’re a leisurely stroller or an active adventurer—you’ll find plenty of paths amidst the area’s public parks, state forests, and college campuses. Perhaps the toughest challenge is figuring out which walk you’d like to try. To help you decide, we contacted the owners and employees of several Lehigh Valley’s walking and running outfitters. Here are their top picks for five great walks in Lehigh Valley.
The Lehigh University Cross-Country Course
“Even though it’s a cross-country course, you’re pretty likely to see some wildlife, particularly deer,” says Bruce Haines, owner of Aardvark Sports Shop in Bethlehem. And even though the course bends around Murray H. Goodman Stadium and crisscrosses several Lehigh University sports fields, “wildlife” doesn’t often include Lehigh students. How long you walk (or cross-country ski, or snowshoe) is up to your comfort level: The university’s website lists several maps for 5K, 6K, 8K, and 10K routes. (Just make sure to check their athletics calendar for any events before you go). The start/finish line is adjacent to College Drive, behind Goodman Stadium, if you denote in your GPS.
The Ironton Rail Trail Loop
The entirety of this 9.2-mile Ironton Rail Trail connects Coplay to Whitehall Township, but its 5.2-mile loop has a lot to offer, says Chris Schmidt, vice president of operations at Keystone Running Store in Allentown. “There’s a restored caboose at the trailhead, a little park where young ones can play, an old boxcar, and the Saylor Park Cement Kilns.” Those 90-feet-tall kilns were built in 1904 and stand as a towering testament to a local history of industry. “As you walk, you’ll think about how maybe a coal car or a cement train used to move here from place to place,” says Schmidt. The access point is 3853 Chestnut St., Whitehall for reference.
Lehigh Parkway's 6-mile loop, bisected by the Little Lehigh Creek, rests between Allentown and Emmaus, though you’d never know just how close the park sits near downtown Allentown, says Tyler Long, assistant manager of The Emmaus Run Inn. The park includes eight bridges (including Bogert’s Covered Bridge, a pedestrian-only covered bridge), the Little Lehigh Fish Hatchery, a disc-golf course, and a log cabin. (Whew.) “I’d describe the route as easy to moderate—there are some inclines, some declines—but it’s all very manageable. And beautiful,” says Long. It’s a fun spot to snowshoe, cross-country ski, or just clomp around in snow boots, too. The trail has various access points: Lehigh Parkway North (40.587670, -75.488172), Robin Hood Bridge (40.582215, -75.483223), Klein's Bridge (40.579302, -75.493670), Bogert's Covered Bridge (40.568764, -75.498690), Fireman's Bridge (40.566052, -75.506267), and Lil' Le-Hi Trout Nursery (40.563611, -75.513305).
Saucon Rail Trail – Between Water Street Park and Meadows Road
“The Saucon Rail Trail is an odd little walk, but that’s why I like it,” says Haines, of this 1 ½-mile stroll. The path moves through the Hellertown wetlands, passes a refurbished railroad signal, and then leads to a four-span stone arch bridge that was built way back in 1858. From there you have the option to continue to walk more of the 7.6-mile stretch, which is built upon a portion of the old North Pennsylvania Railroad and runs to Quakertown. With eight points of access in Hellertown, Lower Saucon Township, and Coopersburg, you can find the portion of the trail that interests you most.
The D&L Trail – Between Bethlehem and Allentown
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor's whopping 165 miles of D&L Trail threads from Wilkes-Barre to the Lehigh Gap, but for just a taste of the history and scenery, try this approximately 4-mile-long section. In Bethlehem, the crushed-stone trail runs along the towpath through Sand Island Park, and then through Lehigh Canal Park and the Norfolk Southern Railroad’s Allentown yard. “The path is very quaint and very quiet, with the railroad tracks on one side and the Lehigh River on the other,” says Long.
No matter the season, these trails are sure to provide you with a refreshing look at nature as you stretch your legs. Find more information on the various parks and trails of Lehigh Valley.