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Friday, December 11, 2020

Hiking the Lehigh Gorge Trail South from Rockport, PA

Friday, December 11, 2020 

Hi Blog!

After the snow storm on Wednesday, it took the better part of Thursday to get the roads cleared. With warmer temperatures on the way Friday, we decided to get out and explore part of the Lehigh Gorge State Park. This 6,107 acres park follows the Lehigh River from the Francis E. Walter Dam near White Haven in the north to Jim Thorpe in the south. The Lehigh Gorge Trail follows over 20 miles of abandoned railroad grade. We started our hike at the Rockport Access Area.

Rockport Road follows Indian Run down to the Lehigh River.

This is a very popular raft launch for the white water raft companies that ply the Lehigh River. The stairs make it easy for customers to walk down to the river's edge. It also makes it easy for the fisherman. We couldn't help but notice all the great fishing spots we hiked past.

Sections of the park and the adjacent State Game Lands are open to deer hunting. The hunters are allowed to drive this portion of the rail trail during hunting season. That said, we only saw two pickup trucks with hunters. There were three other cars, but they appeared to be tourists taking advantage of the open gates.

The rail bed was carved into the side of the Bald Mountain. The spring water that leaked from the rock layers made for amazing ice sculptures.

The recent snow melt has supercharged Luke's Falls.

The Lehigh Gorge Trail is managed by The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor which aims to preserve and interpret the nationally significant history of the 165-mile transportation route between Wilkes-Barre and Bristol encompassing both the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. The pretty trail markers made it easy to check our mileage.

This nameless waterfall started high on the hill and slowly stair-stepped down to the river.

We encountered only four bike riders all day. The icy road bed made peddling exciting.

After a little over three miles, we turned and headed back to the traihead. Picnic tables were scattered about a mile apart. We enjoyed our sandwiches while watching Drakes Creek work its way down to the river.

After lunch, we walked down to the river bank so we could get a better view of the railroad bridge over Drakes Creek.

The arrival of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the 1850s prompted the formation of the company that eventually became the Bethlehem Steel. Remnants of the old rail line can still be see along the trail.

Large culverts with massive stone walls were constructed to funnel stream water under the rail bed.

While we hiked 6.5 miles, we only covered a little over three miles of the 20 mile trail. We have 17 more miles of adventure ahead of us.

We leave you with this video of the Lehigh River as it tumbles through the Gorge. 


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