The Allentown Hiking Club is one of the “granddaddies” of the American hiking scene. Organized in 1931, the AHC has introduced thousands of people to the beauty of nature and the benefits of outdoor exercise through an ambitious program of hikes and instructional seminars. Hardly a weekend goes by without at least one AHC hike being held somewhere in eastern or central Pennsylvania. The club also maintains a 10.3-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, including two backcountry shelters, west of Lehigh Gap.
The AHC has had a relationship with the Trail Tenders since 2004, helping the Tenders with projects along the D&L Trail. Two years ago, the club agreed to “adopt” Lock 2 in Lehigh Gorge State Park and a short section of the Lehigh Canal towpath connecting the lock with the D&L Trail at the Nesquehoning Trestle. Twice a year, club members gather to remove vegetation and graffiti from the 173-year-old lock, which is in beautiful shape. The trail receives biannual manicures.
Last year, the club agreed to begin opening a trail (partially the old towpath) that connected Lock 2 with Lock 1 further down the Lehigh River. The trail passes through Coalport, a late 19th– and early 20th-century loading area where anthracite coal was transferred from railroad cars to canal boats. Lock 1 is not in bad shape but, unfortunately, is filled in with a large pile of soil. Work to reclaim Lock 1 and the area around it will take years.
This year, the AHC will conduct its first Lock 2 cleanup on April 30. Club members and other interested volunteers are asked to meet at 9 a.m. in the parking lot outside the Rite Aid drugstore at the north end of the Walnutport Shopping Center, just off Rt. 145. If you know where the lock is, you can report there at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Jim Gabovitz at 610-264-3578 or Carl Griffin at 610-760-0479.
Lehigh Gorge State Park has agreed to make a sign to direct D&L Trail users to Lock 2. It will be placed at the north end of the Nesquehoning Trestle. The D&L is compiling information about Lock 2, Lock 1 and Coalport, for an interpretive sign that will be installed at Lock 2 later this year.
For more information about the Allentown Hiking Club, visit their website at http://www.allentownhikingclub.org/.