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Unique Hiking on the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath

While you may not want to sit down with every person who’s been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” you will undoubtedly want to walk (or jog, bike, or cross-country ski) down Pennsylvania’s 2022 “Trail of the Year.” The Delaware Canal State Park Towpath is one of the most extensive and extraordinary trails in Pennsylvania, with 58.9 miles of trail overlaying what was once a historic towpath stretching from Easton to Bristol. Built in the mid-18th century and in operation until 1931, this towpath was used by mules to pull as many as three thousand canal boats a year along the Delaware Canal. In the 1950s this towpath was opened as a unique recreational trail. Located within the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, a designated stretch between Wilkes-Barre and Bristol that was historically a major transportation hub, the trail is both scenic and suggestive of industry: at various points the trail winds beside quaint bridges, retired railroads, ancient trees, and long expanses of peaceful water.

Whether you are a birdwatcher, a horseback rider, an avid canoeist, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk in nature, the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath has something for you. From the unique vantage point this path provides, outdoor enthusiasts can view miles of river shoreline and eleven protected river islands—which provide a window into the undisturbed patterns of songbirds and waterfowl—as well as admire the engineering of the Delaware Canal, which was used to haul coal and lumber to the Philadelphia area at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Hands-on activities, guided walks, and evening programs are also provided by the park for those wishing to avail themselves of all the park has to offer. For a more in-depth look at the history of the canal through exhibits, artifacts, and displays, visit the Locktender’s House at Lock 11 in New Hope.

When planning your route, be sure to review the complete map to view access points, other significant trail amenities, and topographical features. Please note that it is crucial to consult the DCNR website for closures of sections of the path as the towpath is prone to flooding and consequently has sections that are undergoing repairs from time to time.

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