This weekend (June 7th and 8th) the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in conjunction with Pocono Biking will be hosting bike train excursions between Jim Thorpe and White Haven. Dropping off bicyclists at the White Haven trailhead of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail for a 25 mile rail trail ride back to Jim Thorpe. There will be two departures each day at 10 AM and 2PM. Tickets and bike rentals can be secured with advanced reservation only. For more info go to http://poconobiking.com/trails/train-and-bike/
Pocono Biking has also expanded their bike shuttle service to include the Black Diamond and "Appalachian Trail" (Jim Thorpe to Cementon in Lehigh County) sections of the D&L. It is now possible during a weekend stay in Jim Thorpe to explore the entire 60 mile northern section of the D&L in the (slightly) downhill direction without riding out and back.
There are numerous lodgings in Jim Thorpe. Another outfitter in downtown Jim Thorpe, Blue Mountain Sports offers bike rentals and shuttles for the Lehigh Gorge as well as the more challenging Switchback Trail. Finally there is daily direct bus service between Jim Thorpe and Philadelphia via Susquehanna Trailways. You will want to a rent a bike if you choose the bus to avoid the hassle of boxing and unboxing your bike.
Scott Everett, Trails Manager for the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, recently issued a report that provided a look ahead at current and future projects to complete the 165 mile Delaware and Lehigh Trail. When the trail is complete it will connect the Wilkes Barre area of Northeast Pennsylvania with the East Coast Greenway in Bristol.
Several major gaps in the trail are being filled as we speak. In the Bucks County section of the D&L the first of the 5 barriers on the lower section of the trail is expected to go under construction. The Route 13 Tunnel construction project has been let (awarded to a contractor) and construction will begin in the next few months. A second tunnel project under the CSX Tracks south of Morrisville has been delayed because of funding and land ownership issues. Finally a third barrier, the trail design for the dangerous Route 13 crossing at Green Lane in Bristol Township, is currently undergoing a design review process by PENNDOT project managers. PENNDOT will construct the connection as part of the Route 13 Revitalization project.
Meanwhile to the north the D&L Heritage Corridor is frantically piecing together a continuous trail in Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon and Luzerne Counties. The pieces include:
The 10 mile Black Diamond Trail is currently under construction and will connect the Lehigh Gorge terminous at White Haven to the appropriately-named Mountain Top at an elevation of 1700 feet. This will be the new northern terminus and should be completed this spring.
A proposed pedestrian bridge just south of Jim Thorpe would connect the Lehigh Gorge section to the Lehigh Canal. The current construction estimate is in 2014.
Completion of the Lehighton Trailhead in the Spring.
A package of small connector projects which will fill in the remaining gaps in Carbon County.
Upgrading the Freemansburg section of the Lehigh Canal in Northampton County from dirt and grass to crushed stone. Completion should arrive later this year.
A short connecting trail between Hugh Moore Canal Park and the Palmer Township trail west of Easton.