The spot we choose to embark on the Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail starts just outside of Jim Thorpe, PA. It splits Carbon and Luzerne counties as it winds along the Lehigh River south to north, tracing a not-so-old railway which still operates to this day. (Although perhaps just for the tourists.)
The Jim Thorpe area is a popular tourist-y destination and the proximity to Lehigh Gorge only augments the allure (great for family activities or bringing a pet). I have not been up here since a few years back, hiking the Glen Onoko trail before they sadly closed it for good. The bike path is a decent substitute as you can still experience some great waterfalls, and if you’re after a good hike there’s certainly a few more in the area.
Kristin and I woke up early on a Sunday and, having packed the car full of bikes and things the previous night, took off on the PA Turnpike northbound. On the trail by 9am we followed the packed gravel trail along the curves of the Lehigh River, avoiding the white-water current below but fighting the slight two-percent average incline as we rode. By the end of the first 20-mile leg our own legs were feeling the gentle pull of gravity trying to drag us back towards the parking lot from which we started. Luckily, the second half was back-tracking and would be all down hill!
The skies were crystal blue and the air was clean and fresh. Dressed in short sleeves and short riding bibs the first three miles were a bit chilly until we got our heart rates up and the additional bloodflow helped warm the fingers and toes. Riding at this time of the year is a constant battle between wearing too much and ending the day soaked in sweat, and wearing too little and fighting the frigid feeling at each stop and start. Despite the Gorge running north-south and the sun rising in the east and setting (allegedly) in the west, there were some areas od the trail which a warm ray never did touch; perhaps the tree cover is still too dense this early in the fall season. Coming back here in a few weeks time would provide a wonderful view of the leaves changing.
Lunch was sandwiches from La Stalla of Newtown, PA. I have not had a better sandwich from any other place on Earth. A perfect piece of bread stuffed with Prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, oven-roasted tomatoes (!!), and balsamic glaze really hits the spot after 30 miles. The river had a strong current, and there’s a picture below showing the roaring creek we sat beside to eat lunch.
All in all, a Sunday well spent! This ride was a ‘bucket-list’ one, and I’m glad to have checked it off the list. Gorgeous weather, a great ride, and some fantastic memories.