Trail Maps and Guides
The Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge consists of over 750 acres of varied habitat. The trail system threads through these habitats and provides visitors with approximately 13 miles of hiking trails at present. Loop hikes can easily be planned so that hikers need not retrace their steps. We hope you come out to the Refuge and enjoy the many hiking opportunities. Since 2002 we have been busy, along with our friends from the Allentown Hike Club, creating additional trails to connect to the existing Appalachian and Blue (North) Trails at the top of the mountain and other areas of the Refuge. Today you can come out to the refuge for a peaceful walk along level terrain, challenge yourself on some of the steeper trail sections, or do the Big Hike covering the entire trail system.
Most people begin their visit to the Refuge at the Osprey House, headquarters of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. Access to the Refuge is also available from Riverview Road at the western edge of the Refuge or from hiking in on the Appalachian Trail. Three trails meet at Osprey House parking area the Prairie Warbler Loop, D&L and LNE trails.
- Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail
- Lehigh & New England (LNE) Trail
- Three Ponds Trail
- Bobolink Trail
- Prairie Warbler Loop
- Woodpecker Trail
- Prairie Grass Trail
- Chestnut Oak Trail
- Charcoal Trail
- Double G Loop
- Blue Trail
- Appalachian Trail
- Parking at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center
- Canoe Launch Area
- Signs and Trail Markers
The refuge can be accessed at the eastern end from Paint Mill Road off of Route 873, about 0.3 miles south of the bridge across the Lehigh River. (The refuge cannot be accessed directly from Route 873.) Paint Mill Road parallels Route 873, then goes under the bridge and parallels the Lehigh River for a short distance. It then accesses the eastern end of the refuge, where the Tannery Building and the Osprey House are located. There is parking at the Tannery Building (stone building) and at the Osprey House a short distance beyond the Tannery.
The access road along the river parallels the “lower railroad bed” which will be upgraded in the next year or two as part of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail. When completed, the D&L Trail will run continuously from Bristol, north of Philadelphia, to the Wilkes-Barre area, including running along the lower edge of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center for nearly 3 miles.
From Route 248, take the Bowmanstown exit. Travel west on Route 895 a very short distance and cross the bridge over the Lehigh River. Just over the bridge make a left turn onto Riverview Road. Travel about one mile to where the road bends sharply to the right. You can park here, along the D&L Trail and enter the refuge. You can also continue on Riverview Road for a short distance to the stop sign at Sunset Road. Make a left on Sunset and a quick right and go up the hill to the LNE Trail (the upper railroad bed). You can park your car on the right and enter the refuge here.
This trail runs from the Osprey House along the Lehigh River all the way to Riverview Road at the western edge of the refuge. The D&L Trail gets its name from the old Delaware & Lehigh Canals that paralleled the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers and is part of the 165-mile Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail running from Bristol (near Philadelphia) to Wilkes-Barre. The D&L Trail connects the refuge system to many other trails including the Slate Heritage Trail in Slatington and the Walnutport Canal Towpath. The D&L Trail borders the riparian habitat along the Lehigh River and is rich with flowing springs and microhabitats along its 2.5 stretch on the refuge. Watch for various sparrows and many different spring and fall migrants and for Common Mergansers and other water birds on the Lehigh River. The western end of the D&L Trail in the refuge includes ponds and surrounding habitat which provide excellent warbler and other migrant songbird observations in the spring. (2.75 miles, level)
The LNE Trail begins at the north end of the Osprey House road loop, ascends steep terrain for a 100ʼ elevation change, then levels out on the rail bed all the way to the gate at the western end of the refuge, where it can also be accessed. The trail parallels the D&L Trail 120 vertical feet up the slope,traverses the lower sections of the restored grasslands and the deciduous area at the western end of the Refuge. The LNE Trail provides beautiful views of the Lehigh River below, along with the vistas to the east and north across the river. During all seasons, watch for Bald Eagles overhead and in the spring and summer for Osprey fishing in the river. (2.75 miles, mostly level with a short steep incline near the Osprey House)
Ponds, streams and wetlands provide an interesting mix of habitat and natural inhabitants on this trail. Three Ponds Trail connects to the D&L Trail in three places near the three ponds at the western end of the Refuge and also connects to the LNE Trail. It can also be accessed from the dirt road at the intersection of Riverview and Sunset Roads. Ignore the “Stop” sign on the cable and the private property signs – this is LGNC property and visitor access is permitted. However, the acre around the “Trails End” cabins is private land, so please avoid this area. Watch for beaver, otter, Mallard, and Belted Kingfishers in all seasons. In spring and summer watch for Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Wood Ducks, various wood warblers, frogs and turtles. (1/4 mile, level but wet in places, except for the moderate climb to LNE Trail. Watch out for ticks in season.)
The Bobolink Trail connects the D&L Trail with the LNE Trail about 1.2 miles north and west of the Osprey House. The Bobolink Trail is named for the Bobolink, a representative of the migrant grassland bird species that we hope to attract to the refuge’s re-vegetated prairie grasslands. (1/8 mile, moderate incline)
This short trail near the Osprey House contains scrub habitat maintained to protect the overhead transmission lines from vegetation encroachment. This scrub is ideal for nesting Prairie Warblers, Indigo Buntings and Field Sparrows. It provides a nice view of the Osprey House and Lehigh River from up above, in the scrub habitat area. (3/8 mile, moderate incline)
The Woodpecker Trail connects the Prairie Warbler Loop at the tree line above the Osprey House and the Appalachian Trail enabling access without going out onto Route 873. Watch for Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers in all seasons. (1/4 mile, moderate incline)
This trail branches off the LNE Trail and goes up the mountain, coursing through the restoration areas of warm season prairie grasses. The Prairie Grass Trail also connects to Charcoal Trails, which leads to the existing Blue Trail that runs along the top of the mountain. The Prairie Grass Trail threads through the restored grassland habitat of warm-season prairie grasses and provides astounding views of the Lehigh River. The trail connects to both the Charcoal Trail and the Chestnut Oak Trail before returning to the LNE Trail. Watch for Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrels and soaring Red-tailed Hawks. (3/4 mile, moderate incline near the Bobolink Trail and where it reconnects to the LNE Trail.)
The Chestnut Oak Trail traverses the steep wooded slope heavily populated with Chestnut Oak trees, and connects the Prairie Grass Trail with the Double G Loop. This trail offers excellent views of the Lehigh River from above. Watch for woodland bird species and White-tailed Deer. (0.5 mile, fairly level grade traversing the steep slope, challenging)
The Charcoal Trail traverses ground used in earlier days for charcoal preparation. Watch for the shallow scooped-out charcoal pits on either side of the trail as you pass through the thinly wooded section. The trail connects the Prairie Grass Trail to the Blue Trail. (3/4 mile, steady, moderate incline)
Deciduous trees provide canopy for the Double G Loop. It loops up from the LNE Trail at its western edge near the I-476 tunnel and back down to the LNE Trail a short distance inside the traffic gate at the west end of the LNE Trail. The Double G Loop connects to the Chestnut Oak Trail at the switchback at its eastern most point. Watch for Wood Thrushes and warblers in spring and summer. (0.5 mile, moderate sustained)
The Blue Trail is also know as the “North Trail” to Appalachian Trail hikers,and traverses mostly level ground through the grassland/savanna at the “top” of the Refuge. The Blue Trail is marked in blue blazes. This trail provides amazing views of the Lehigh River below and a panorama to the north. The trail connects to the Appalachian Trail at the third communications tower (to the west) on the top of the ridge just east of the I-476 tunnel, and reconnects to the AT as it descends towards Mountain Road in the east. Near the Devil’s Pulpit, above the Lehigh Gap, the Blue Trail turns to the south and heads down the south side of the mountain to reconnect with the Appalachian Trail near the Outerbridge Shelter. In spring and summer watch for Eastern Towhees and Indigo Buntings in the savanna habitat. In fall watch for migrating raptors. (1.5 miles, fairly level with a steep sustained incline at the connection to the AT)
The Appalachian Trail is known as the “AT” to locals and to the hardy group of through hikers that have covered parts or all of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. The AT traverses hardwood forests along the top of the Kittatinny Ridge and then descends to Route 873 at the Lehigh River bridge, and is well marked with white blazes. Vehicle access points to the AT near the LGNC include Lehigh Gap and Lehigh Furnace Gap. (1.5 miles from third tower (west) to Blue Trail, steady elevation change, steep at times).
Parking is available near the Tannery building and the Osprey House. We also have additional parking for LGNC events beyond the gate at the Tannery building. During these events the gate will be open to provide access to this parking area. At other times the gate is locked to deter unauthorized vehicles access to the D&L Trail.
Parking is available at the western end of the refuge at the junction of Riverview Road and the D&L Trail. There is a sign posted in this area reading “Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge; A Community Resource.” Parking is also available at the western end of the LNE Trail. To reach this area, continue on Riverview Road to Sunset Road. At the stop sign make a left turn and then a quick right turn and drive up the hill to the LNE Trail. The parking area is to the right. There is a gate across the LNE Trail at this point, again to deter unauthorized vehicles on this trail.
Near the Tannery Building an access pathway has been created down to the river, providing a river observation area and access for canoes, kayaks, and small boats.
The trail system map and signs around the refuge will help orient you to the refuge’s trail system, although some of the smaller trails may be difficult to locate at this time. Enjoy exploring the refuge, and let us know what you find!!
These trail descriptions contain excerpts from articles in the Autumn 2003 and Summer 2008 issues of Wildlife Activist, by Robert E. Hoopes.