Find Trails By State ride the northeast

Delaware Canal State Park

Pennsylvania Rail Trails
Lehigh Valley, PA

Family / Historic
Delaware Canal Path Trail Description

Location: Easton to Bristol, PA. Bucks and Northhampton counties.

Directions:
Numerous access points exist along the 60-mile length of Delaware Canal State Park. The park follows the Delaware River from Easton to Bristol (just north of Philadelphia). The path is paralleled by Pennsylvania Routes 611 and 32.

Trail Length: 60 miles

Trail Surface: Crushed stone

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Caution: Multi-use trails. Mountain biking, bicycling, hiking. Some sections may be closed due to flood damage. Check ahead for current trail status.

 

 

 

Local Resources: Bike shops, bike clubs, adventure travel, bike tours, bike events, trail maps, bike safety, camping, historical places, where to stay and other related sources visit our Resource Hub.

Delaware Canal State Park Trail Map

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.

Trail Description:

What better way to experience our rich American Heritage and History than with a bicycle ride or hike along the Delaware Canal State Park Trail in Pennsylvania, the only remaining continuously intact canal of the great towpath canal building era of the early and mid-19th century. This 60-mile long, linear state park is part of the National Heritage Trail System. It runs from Easton to Bristol, Pennsylvania, closely following the contours of the Delaware River on the path once used by mule teams to pull cargo-laden barges along the Delaware Canal. Today, the towpath is used by cyclists, hikers, mountain bikers, birdwatchers, cross-county skiers, bird watchers and others.

It's no secret that the the Delaware Canal, its towpath and historic structures have periodically seen major flood damage. The good news is that the Delaware Canal still retains many of its original structures, thanks to the sheer determination and resilience of one of the most dedicated user groups in the northeast, The Friends Of The Delaware Canal. Call ahead for current trail conditions.

 

Trail Highlights: include Easton Dam and Fish Ladders, Washington Crossing Historic Park, Bowmans Hilltower and Wildflower Preserve, Virgina Forrest Recreation Area, Nockamixon Cliffs, Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area, Lock Tender's House Visitor Center.

The northern Trailhead begins at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers in Easton, PA at the Lock 24 parking lot. Instead of traveling in a laden canal boat, you'll be bicycling the Delaware Canal State Park towpath south from Lock 24, the Gateway to the Delaware Canal System in Easton, to Lock 1 in Bristol, PA.

You may not have the time for a fascinating 60-mile weekend bicycle journey along the entire length of the Delaware Canal State Park Trail. Don't worry. There are many access and exit points. You can make the bike ride as long or as short as you want. Just across the river, the Delaware and Raritan Canal tow path on the New Jersey side parallels the Delaware Canal State Park Trail for 30 miles between Morrisville and Uhlerstown, PA. Six bridge crossings, along this 30 mile stretch offer cyclists a variety of interesting multi-loop, bi-state bike ride options featuring different aspects of the canal. Pennsylvania Delaware Canal State Park Trail connection bridges are located at the towns of Uhlerstown, Lumberville, Center Bridge, Washington Crossing and Morrisville.

The corridor along the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware Canal is narrower and more rustic than the New Jersey side. While the grade is level, the terrain varies from smooth hard-packed dirt and gravel with sticks and stones to nothing more than grassy double track. This bike ride is best suited for mountain bikes and hybrids and those wanting to combine beautiful scenery with historical and natural appeal.

Tip: Bring plenty of water and a few snacks along on your bike trip. While several wooden, Camelback Footbridges arching over the path at various intervals connect the canal path to surrounding neighborhoods, there are VERY long stretches where there is no easy access to services or refreshments. This can become a serious problem for an unprepared cyclist on a hot, humid summer day.

There are many surprises along the route. At times, the narrow corridor, often just 60 feet wide, is sandwiched between a wildflower lined, algae-filled canal and the river. At times it widens and opens up to scenic river and wetland vistas dotted with secluded river islands and wading birds. Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons , Geese and White-Tailed Deer are common sights along the trail. Along the way you'll pass farmland, forest, county parks, natural areas, historic sites, towering cliffs, ornate gardens, 19th century industrial ruins and verdant hillsides lined with residential houses.

 

Easton Dam and Fish Ladder
This is the Gateway to the Delaware Canal System. The dam at the mouth of the Lehigh River provides the primary water source for the canal's northern section. However, obstructions cause a continual decline in migratory fish populations that need a clear path back to their birthplace in order to spawn. The shad ladder at Easton is an inclined series of water filled chambers that the fish can navigate to pass over the dam. Visitors can view the chambers within the structure from walkways above water level.

Nockamixon Cliffs & River Islands
South of Lumberville, the Delaware Canal State Park features two designated State Park Natural Areas - Nockamixon Cliffs and River Islands. These areas contain threatened or endangered species and are sensitive and unique natural environments. That being said, while visitors are welcome to explore these areas, please "take only pictures and leave only footprints." Camping is prohibited.

The cliffs tower 300 feet above the Delaware River and dominate the landscape. Because the cliffs face north, they receive little direct sunlight. This cool habitat supports an alpine-arctic plant community that is rarely found this far south. Over 90 species of birds inhabit the cliffs, which historically have been used by the Peregrine falcon and Osprey. This is a great spot for birdwatching.

Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area
At 5.7 miles from the start, the Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area features Locks 22-23, Locktender’s House, and a powerhouse that produced electricity until 1954. There are also restroom facilities, parking, picnic areas and boat access ramps. This is a good turn around point for those wishing a short 11 mile round trip bike ride in the northern hemisphere of the Delaware Canal State Park Trail System.

Virginia Forrest Recreation Area
Located around the trail midpoint on Route 32 just north of Center Bridge, the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area is an ideal starting point for biking the canal towpath and for rides that use Delaware Canal towpath to reach back roads with no public parking nearby. The area has parking, river access and restrooms.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
A peaceful, 134-acre Preserve featuring over 1,000 species of plants native to Pennsylvania. Winding trails lead visitors through woodlands, meadows and along streams.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
The Park is comprised of two sections, the Thompson-Neelys and the McKonkey Ferry Inn section. You can actually bike 5 miles from one section of the Park to the other. The Delaware Canal Park towpath connects the two sections of the Park from the McKonkey Ferry section's Newtown Gate, accessible from Route 532 to the front of the Thompson-Neely House in the Thompson-Neely section.

Lock Tender's House Visitor Center
Located at Lock 11 in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This restored nineteenth-century building serves as the Delaware Canal State Park Visitor Center and the Friends of the Delaware Canal Headquarters. . Learn about life at the lock through canal exhibits and artifacts and get a ride ticket for a mule drawn Canal Delaware Canal Boat Ride.

 

 

 

Historical Note:

The Delaware Canal system provided a convenient and economical means of transporting anthracite coal and iron mined in the Upper Lehigh Valley, beginning in Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe) to Philadelphia, New York and the eastern seaboard. It is the only canal, remaining continuously intact from the towpath canal-building days of the nineteenth century and still has almost all of it's features as they existed during its century of commercial operation.

 

 

For more information:

For other long distance multi-use rail trails in this region see Pennsylvania Rail Trails

 

Delaware Canal State Park
11 Lodi Hill Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972-9540

Phone: (610) 982-5560
TTY: 888-537-7294 (TTY) or 711 (AT&T Relay Services)

Trail Website: Delaware Canal State Park  

 

 

Return To Top