The Delaware Canal State Park Towpath, one of several spots perfect for scenic walks strolls, or hikes in the Lehigh Valley, has been named Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year.
“It is my pleasure to announce that this diverse, historic trail has been selected to be Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year,” Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced on March 4.
“Today, we celebrate the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath and the multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities it has provided for generations, as it continues to be a destination for so many people,” Dunn said. “With this honor, I am hopeful that even more people seek out this gem of a trail and the larger region to which it connects its users.”
The 58.9-mile Delaware Canal Towpath runs from Easton and Northampton County to Bristol in Bucks County. Paralleling the Delaware River, mules once trod the historic pathway pulling the canal boats along the Delaware Canal.
Today, it provides a level trail for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding. Boat accesses allow for canoeing and kayaking. In the winter, ice skating and cross-country skiing are also popular along the towpath and canal.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates the Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for trails across the state, and to raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network.
The Lehigh Valley is well-known for its extensive trail systems, such as Easton’s Karl Stirner Arts Trail, the Asher F. Boyer Trail between Northampton and Slatington, the Towpath Bike Trail in Palmer Township, and the Nor-Bath Trail between Bath and Northampton.
The region also includes the Ironton Rail Trail, which runs through Whitehall, Coplay, and North Whitehall. Or hikers can follow the Historic Bethlehem Museum & Sites’ Heritage Trail and learn about the history of more than 80 different sites.
“The Friends of Delaware Canal are honored that the Delaware Canal Towpath was named Pennsylvania’s 2022 Trail of the Year,” sad Michael Ginder, executive director of the Friends of Delaware Canal, the recipient of the award.
“The towpath has much to offer with a rich history and has seen an increase in visitors the past couple of years as more and more individuals spend time outdoors,” Ginder said. “The Trail of the Year recognition will allow the Friends to build on that increased visitor momentum as well as bolster the work we do to ensure the towpath trail is usable over its entire length.”
The state of Pennsylvania is a leader in trail development, providing its citizens and visitors with more than 12,000 miles of trails. The DCNR has established a goal to have a trail within 10 minutes of all Pennsylvanians.
The Friends of the Delaware Canal works in partnership with Delaware Canal State Park, which manages the canal and towpath. The friends group assists with development and maintenance along the towpath, as well as helping to raise funds and awareness for the canal and towpath.
The Towpath is part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, which is 165 miles long and traverses five counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The Towpath is also in the Lehigh Valley Greenways and Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscapes.