The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - Exploring the Minsi Lake Corridor

Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway Stewardship Plan

On the afternoon of May 12, a group of Lehigh Valley Greenways partners slowed to a halt behind their guide in an empty field at Gerald E. Seyfried Bear Swamp Park and Archery Complex.  

The group’s guide had stopped a short distance from several aged but upright poles. The purpose of the poles was not immediately clear. At least not to everyone. But Lehigh Valley Greenways was there to explore the past, present, and future of Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway with partners from Northampton County Parks and Recreation. This included Superintendent Bryan Cope, Conservation Coordinator Sherry Acevedo, and Recreation Specialist Jim Wilson. 

This 1,100-acre Minsi Lake Corridor, located in the northeast section of Northampton County, is comprised of Minsi Lake, Gerald E. Seyfried Bear Swamp Park and Archery Complex, and Tott’s Gap Conservation Area (Tott’s Gap) including the Twin Ponds. The Lake Minsi Corridor is a nearly contiguous park of protected lands owned and leased by Northampton County.  

Thus far, the guided tour had shed light on: 1) the habitat and amenity improvements installed at Minsi Lake, 2) the design and trail use challenges present at Twin Lakes, 3) the maintenance of native meadows at Tott’s Gap. 

Bear Swamp had been the last stop of the day, an area known for its woods, wetlands, and boardwalk. But as it turns out, the field also had a claim to fame – “BowFest.”  

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Gerald E. Seyfried Bear Swamp and Archery Complex served as host site for the beloved Bowhunter’s Festival, endearingly dubbed, “Bowfest.” This popular festival drew over 2000 visitors per year, with a 3-D target course that would have utilized the poles first noted. 

Though the field appeared empty on first inspection, in actuality, it contains a piece of the region’s recreational past, and a connection to its conservation and recreation future.  

For a peek into what that future may look like, check out Northampton County’s newly finalized Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway and Stewardship Plan.

The Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway & Stewardship Plan will address: 

  • Compatibility of outdoor recreation with resource protection 
  • Conservation of sensitive environmental habitat 
  • Recommendations for conservation management 
  • Recommendations for an interconnected trail system 
  • Recommended infrastructure improvements 

Things You Didn’t Know about Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway: 

Bear Swamp 

  • Bear Swamp is a wilderness area that is the last habitat of the black bear in Northampton County.  
  • Gerald E. Seyfried Bear Swamp Park & Archery Complex is a 251-acre park and natural area of woodlands, wetlands and a tributary to and the main stem of East Fork Martin’s Creek. This site lies within the Greater Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway, is adjacent to two sportsmen’s associations, and has a regional conceptual trail that crosses the park. Facilities include a one-half-mile long loop boardwalk through Bear Swamp; an interpretive pavilion used for environmental education; and archery facilities, which include a target range, the Hunt Course, with a loop trail and picnic table, and Olympic Field.   

Minsi lake 

  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission built Minsi Lake in 1970 for public recreation.  
  • Northampton County has leased the land around Minsi Lake as part of the County Parks System since 1975. 
  • The PA Department of Environmental Protection deemed the dam at Minsi Lake structurally deficient and the lake was drained in 2017. Over 5,000 pounds of fish and more than 180 turtles were relocated elsewhere. 

What is Lehigh Valley Greenways?  Created in 2004, Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape is a proactive, partnership approach to regional landscape conservation in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Our diverse partnership works together to enrich the quality of life of the Lehigh Valley citizens and visitors.

Written by Brit Kondravy, D&L Conservation Coordinator