The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - Landowner Spotlight: Lehigh Gorge State Park

By Brian Greene, Director of Trail & Conservation

Get to know D&L Trail Landowner Lehigh Gorge State Park (LGSP). To do so, we caught up with Rex Bradish, Park Manager for the Lehigh Gorge/Hickory Run State Park Complex. The Lehigh Gorge State Park features rushing rapids of the Lehigh River, steep forested gorge walls, and scenic waterfalls.  Between people riding the D&L Trail and rafting the Lehigh River, this state park proves popular for outdoor recreation. With 24 miles of the D&L Trail in LGSP, this stretch from White Haven to Jim Thorpe is the most isolated from human development. This makes for a unique wilderness feel. Combine that with historic canal ruins, railroad rides, and two trail friendly towns on either end, this is a must visit section of the D&L Trail and consistently one of the most popular.

Q&A with Rex Bradish

Q: How does the D&L Trail enhance LGSP? 

I think without question we have a shared identity.  While the park is a popular attraction in itself, sharing the same space with the D&L makes it even more well-loved and appreciated.  We’re proud to be part of the 165-mile D&L Trail. 

Q: What has the partnership with the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor meant to LGSP? 

The partnership makes us stronger and adds to the value of what we each have to offer.  By combining our resources, we’re much better able to serve trail users.  The park is grateful to have such a supportive and dedicated partner to work alongside. 

Q: What are some of the challenges in maintaining over 20 miles of D&L Trail? 

Our motivation is to always provide the best overall experience for the visiting public.  Trail maintenance is a major undertaking with much of it being a continuous effort with lots of repetition.  It can be quite a challenge when coupled with active trail users and trying to not disrupt their visit. 

Q: What is your favorite part of the D&L Trail? 

That would be the Rockport area spanning from Buttermilk to Lukes Falls.  Not only is this area scenic, it has a unique feel with the convergence of land and water.  I’m also always impressed with how its character changes throughout the year – low key and quiet in the shoulder season, extremely busy during the summer months when biking and whitewater rafting activities occur simultaneously. 

Q: Anything you would like to share with D&L Trail users? 

I encourage people to visit and enjoy the D&L Trail.  It’s especially important for people take advantage of outdoor recreation during these difficult times. 

Fun Facts about LGSP 

  • In the 1830s 20 dams and 29 locks were constructed on the Upper Grand Section of the Lehigh Canal that now makes up LGSP. 
  • In the late 1800s, this heavily forested park was once barren of trees as a result of logging, industry and forest fires. 
  • The D&L Trail is on the former railroad bed of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company.  This created the smooth grade that makes the trail enjoyable to ride. 
  • Before it was a state park, this area was a resort destination.  For example, at Glen Onoko there was Hotel Wahnetah. Started in the 1880s it was a popular stop on the railroad and included a tavern, rooms, and dance pavilion. 
  • The only section of the D&L Trail that allows for snowmobiling is in LGSP between White Haven and Penn Haven.