Pennsylvania Trail Review: D&L Trail and Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway

The D&L Trail is one of Pennsylvania’s longest and best-known rail trails, stretching 165 miles from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol.  It follows the route that canal boats once used to deliver anthracite coal from mines to market, and it offers stunning views of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.
There’s only one problem for Trikkers . . . most of the trail is gravel.  Fortunately there is a small section near Easton, PA that is a Trikker’s paradise.  Several miles of wide, flat asphalt run alongside the Lehigh River and the D&L Canal.  Riders can park in four locations:
  • Long driveway at the end of Hope Rd, Freemansburg, PA (Boat Launch)
  • Riverview Park, 25th Street, Easton, PA
  • Hugh Moore Park, south of 25th Street, Glendon, PA (National Canal Museum)
  • Hugh Moore Park, north of 25th Street, Glendon, PA

Scenic overlook at the Lehigh River chain dam
My preference is Riverview Park because it offers easy access to all parts of the trail and also has restrooms.  The most Trikke-able portion of the trail runs southwest from the park to the boat launch.  Here riders can enjoy 2 1/2 miles of wide and nearly flat pavement alongside the Lehigh River.  When I was first learning to carve, this was one of my favorite spots due to its short distance and relatively light traffic.
Near the boat launch, riders will find a fork in the road that leads them to the Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway.  I like to call it the “Two Mile Hill.”  It’s not the steepest climb I know of, but it is the longest.  It’s a narrow stretch of aging asphalt that hooks under Route 33 twice as it heads back towards Easton.  The grade is only 1 degree for most of the run, but there are no breaks in the climb save a slight dip as it crosses a driveway near Hope Road.  The summit is a metal bridge spanning Freemansburg Avenue.  The hill’s dense tree cover makes it a haven in the summer, but be warned that climbing it in the fall can be treacherous due to debris.
Climbing the “Two Mile Hill”
Beyond the summit, the Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway levels out and heads northeast another 2 1/2 miles back toward Easton.  Although it remains paved, there are numerous road-crossings, and pedestrian traffic through the neighborhoods can be problematic.  I was frustrated the two times I biked it, and as a result I never went that far on my Trikke.  But with enough determination, it could certainly be Trikked.
Returning to Riverview Park, there is a short ¼ mile section heading northeast that ends in a winding decent to Lehigh Drive.  Crossing the truss bridge along Hill Road leads to the two parking areas of Hugh Moore Park.  The southern parking lot is the largest, and leads to the National Canal Museum and the canal boat ride.

The trail itself continues beyond the northern lot, this time snaking between the Lehigh River and the D&L Canal.  This portion of the trail has some small hills which are quite challenging due to the narrower trail width.  The first 1 ½ miles of trail are reasonably Trikke-friendly, but beyond a small bridge near an old canal lock the asphalt gets crumbly and I consider it too risky to Trikke.  Riders with slightly more fortitude than I can continue all the way to the convergence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers.  I’ll offer one final warning; the bridge below south 3rd Street (Route 611) is prone to flooding and may be impassible unless your Trikke sprouts pontoons.

Beyond 3rd Street in the northeast and the boat launch in the southwest, the D&L reverts to gravel.  In between is enough asphalt to put a smile on the face of Trikkers of all skill levels.  Beginners can enjoy the flatter portion on the north bank of the Lehigh, while more experienced riders can brave the Two Mile Hill or the narrower, hillier trail on the south bank of the Lehigh.  Numerous photo opportunities appear along the way, and wildlife often peek out from the trees to marvel at our three-wheelers.
I have created a map of the trail with Trikke-related color-coding and notes.  Click on any trail segment, shape, or icon for complete information.

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