Bike Trails

By Susan Weaver

There’s no better place to welcome spring than the seat of a bicycle. If you agree and you’re keen for new places to pedal, this roundup of Valley bike trails is for you. To add to my personal favorites, I talked with folks at area bike stores–Bikeline in Allentown and the new Cycle Fitters in Forks Township. So here’s a range of trails where you can watch the trees green. Some are ideal for new cyclists or a leisurely pace; others are best for mountain bikers who like to hop logs and pick their way between the rocks. Many of these trails invite you to mix other activities with your cycling–perfect for children’s shorter attention spans or anyone who wants to make an afternoon or day of it.

Keep in mind, these are multi-use trails. Anticipate other users as you ride around corners. Before passing, alert others with a bell ring or a greeting. Avoid startling horses with sudden moves or loud noise, and take direction from their riders. Usually cyclists heading downhill yield to those going up. For safety, on ‘technical’ trails requiring special mountainbike skills, ride with a partner or group–it’s more fun and a good way to get to know the trails and improve. Looking for riding buddies? Valley Mountain Bikers welcomes new members and organizes rides. (

So strap on your helmet, fill up your water bottle and let’s get riding!


Don’t be surprised to see racing types riding “tempo laps” as well as families with kids on training-wheels at Bob Rodale Cycling and Fitness Park across from Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown. With three lanes to accommodate walkers/joggers, inline skaters and cyclists, a 24-foot-wide asphalt track loops through pine woods and open lawn. Ride laps on the loop with a gentle hill or an inner flat loop, or mix it up. Also, for the littlest athletes, there’s a sand pit ringed by a tricycle track for tots. Time to spare? Picnic at the pavilion or walk (don’t bike) the boardwalk/nature trail in woods that feel like wilderness, with moss growing on downed trees. (Take the concrete walk from the terrace to a bridge and the trail.) Time your visit so you can watch racing at the Velodrome or ride the track yourself during open track time. For map,

Thanks to recent trail building (some by Valley Mountain Bikers), Trexler Nature Preserve now has 20 miles of natural-surface trails. Advanced riders can challenge gravity on the 8½-mile Border Trail that loops around TNP’s combined North, Central and South Ranges. Also, in the North Range the first of a network of mountainbike trails is open: If you have knobby tires and basic skills, try the Autumn Olive Trail, which is 2½ miles of rises, dips and switchbacks through a dense grove of (what else?) autumn olive trees. It will eventually be part of a longer loop, designed and constructed by VMB. You’ll find maps and the trail at Kiosk 12 near the parking lot. (Note, there’s archery hunting in season.)

Pedal the preserve’s four miles of paved park roads (speed limit, 15 mph) in the Central Range for panoramic vistas of ridges, fields, and the Jordan Creek in this magnificent tract. Bring the kids and make Lehigh Valley Zoo part of the outing. For directions,

The flat 9.2-mile Ironton Rail Trail is rich in history. This loop-and-spur takes you where the Ironton Railroad once hauled iron ore and later cement from local mills. Park at the Chestnut Street/Ruch Street trailhead in Whitehall and go clockwise on the 5½ -mile loop. You’ll pass Saylor Park with its tall brick cement kilns (built 1892-93). Along the Lehigh River watch for ruins of the Thomas Iron Works from the latter 1800s. Leaving the river, the path roughly parallels Coplay Creek. Continue to the spur and head west on it through woodsy Whitehall Parkway and pass Troxell-Steckel House (farmhouse museum, built 1756). Where the spur ends, turn around and return to the loop and head left to complete the 12-mile ride. Most of the trail is paved; about a mile is crushed stone. For trail map, Directions: Take 145 north from Rte. 22. Go 3.8 miles and turn right at light onto Chestnut St. Follow 0.4 mile to stop sign. Trailhead is on your left.

Also in Whitehall, off Scherersville Rd., Jordan Creek Parkway takes the challenge up a few notches. Looping off the main jeep road that bisects the park, six miles of singletrack, hardpack trails wind among trees, skirt the creek, traverse rock gardens and log-overs and include climbs. Trails drain well after a rain, compared to Jacobsburg’s. Detailed maps seem lacking, so to learn the trails, ask riders in the parking lot to let you join them at a “social” pace. (I’ve ridden with a friendly group on Tuesday evenings. )

In the Allentown park system, the well known Little Lehigh Parkway trails offer an easy 6-mile ride. (See the “Because You Live Here” department in this issue.)

Walking Purchase Park, a.k.a. “Sals,” in Salisbury Township offers 10 miles of wooded singletrack trails where the city feels far away. Riding is gnarly fun with climbs and descents, rocky sections (one’s called Boulder Trail), and the occasional log-over. Designed by Valley Mountain Bikers, “Sals” requires knobbies and know-how to ride here. Kudos to the club for cleaning up the park and building trails without cost to the township. For trail map, see the Trail Finder on


The pleasant Nor-Bath Trail runs a flat six miles from Northampton almost to Bath on the old N&B Railroad right-of-way. Tree-canopied, the dirt-and-crushed-stone trail passes fields and old farmhouses, plus newer homes and wooded areas. Near each end you ride through rock cuts made for the railway. Approaching the eastern terminus (at Keystone Cement), note a homeowner’s whimsical fence made from old bikes and tricycles.

Start at the trail’s midpoint, Bicentennial Park in East Allen Township, and ride out-and-back in each direction (total, 12 miles). That gives you three chances to use restrooms and other park facilities. Pets are not allowed on this trail. For trail map,; click on trailhead icon for directions.

Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center offers the historical Henry Homestead, a nature-based program and a dramatic hiking-only trail.

Once Bangor and Portland Railway, Plainfield Township Trail offers a pretty outing. Near the south end there’s a spectacular 70-foot drop to Bushkill Creek, which winds in and out of sight over the next several miles. Free of traffic noise, much of the corridor is wooded, featuring views through the trees of rolling countryside, horses at pasture, farm buildings and some residences. The rail-trail is flat and paved with asphalt or composite stone for almost six miles. Then the surface changes to rougher ballast and crushed stone. This is a good turn-around (unless you have fat tires and don’t mind the more isolated feeling of the remaining mile). For trail map, call Plainfield Twp., 610-759-6944. Directions: Take the Stockertown exit from Rte. 33 North. Turn right at the stop sign, then left on Rte. 191. Trail parking is on right, just after the power station.

A hop, skip and a jump from the Plainfield Trail, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center offers the historical Henry Homestead, a nature-based program and a dramatic hiking-only trail. It also draws mountain bikers with 14 miles of shared-use trails on rolling terrain through fir and hardwood forest watered by the Bushkill Creek and its tributary, Sober’s Run. Mostly singletrack, these trails intersect often so you can customize the route to your liking. “Jakes” is “technical” enough that mountainbike newbies, with guidance, can develop their skills. (Note, after a rainy spell, these trails are not well drained. And, there’s hunting in season.) The park is just west of Rte. 33 at the Belfast exit. Take Belfast Rd. to the main parking lot; look for trailhead and maps in the lot’s northeast corner. Map,

For a 14-mile out-and-back ride on the paved Palmer Township Trail, start at Easton’s Riverview Park (off Lehigh Dr. from S. 25th St.) Take the path beside the gravel parking lot and head west. You soon enter woods with great views of the Lehigh River. Watch for the Chain Dam and across the river the red lock tender’s house on the canal. Bear right at the bench, then left at the next trail intersection. The trail ascends gradually through woods. You emerge into farmland and residential areas. (Don’t be confused by a sign for Bethlehem Township Parks and Recreation Rail-Trail.) Soon Fairview Park – with all the amenities, including restrooms–is on your right. (Riverview Park offers restrooms as well.) This trail is an incomplete loop, so turn around at Milford Road or at the pallet factory just beyond (you’ll see its tall smokestack.) Enjoy the downhill through the woods! For trail map,

It is possible to connect the Palmer Trail with a Wilson Path and the popular Lehigh Tow Path and Delaware Canal Towpath, notes John Strom of Cycle Fitters. He’ll have free maps of the 26-mile route (only about a mile on-road) at his shop by spring. Note: If you care to lengthen your ride on the Delaware Towpath, it’s currently open from Easton south to Upper Black Eddy (where flood-damage repairs are ongoing).


Locations in Allentown and Bethlehem
1700 Sullivan Trail
Forks Township, PA
Susan Weaver is a former editor of Bicycling magazine, author of A Woman’s Guide to Cycling (Ten Speed Press) and a frequent contributor to Adventure Cyclist magazine. She lives in Allentown.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram