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Trail Blog #7
Written by: Jay Marsden
In the town of Upper Black Eddy I began the next leg of my journey along our corridor. Here I found a small peaceful park office and a secluded parking lot, surrounded by lush forest. The Delaware River was just across the road. With the sun shining on this beautiful August day I mounted my single speed mountain bike and started cruising toward the PA/NJ border en route to a town that I had heard good things about, Frenchtown, New Jersey.
To reach Frenchtown from the Delaware Canal State Park Office, I followed the D&L Trail south along the Delaware Canal Towpath. This travels through lush farmland filled with beautiful homes, bringing you to a small residential area and the beginning of the short road ride toward the Frenchtown Bridge. Some of this land is private property and it is beautiful for sure, so of course I respected the border of the trail. I passed an old lock and dam where you will see a classic red covered bridge at Uhlerstown. On your left the trail splits off next to a sign that talks about the looping system between the D&L trail and the D&R trail in New Jersey (I’ll talk about this in my next blog) and this is where the turn for Frenchtown is located. At this point I made a left hand turn onto Route 32 which led me toward the Frenchtown Bridge and into New Jersey. This is a story book ride along an arrow straight road through farm lands and across the Delaware River on a beautiful and iconic steel truss bridge.
After riding through these farm lands and walking my bike across the expansive six span bridge above the Delaware River I entered into the Borough of Frenchtown, a beautiful place filled with historic significance and a an unusual small town culture. Although this area is not exactly along the D&L Trail or even in Pennsylvania for that matter, it is seriously worth mentioning. Founded in the mid 1750s this town developed its name when the land was sold to French-speaking Paul Henri Mallet-Prevost, a Swiss fugitive from the French Revolution. Between Prevost and other French speaking settlers the town became known as “Frenchtown”.
Today, this photogenic town is filled with all different types of unique specialty stores, great food, and what might be some seriously fun small town festivals such as Bastille Day and the first Green Fair that is slated for this September. However, one aspect that gives this town its true beauty is the Delaware River itself. The Delaware is one of the largest rivers in the east and well suited for all sorts of recreational activities like flat water kayaking, tubing and trout and shad fishing. Its great width makes it quite impressive to look at. The features I just mentioned, along with the beautiful architecture and the town’s definitive bridge, lets Frenchtown send out some wonderful scenic vibes.
It’s true. New Jersey is not part of the D&L Corridor but we are good neighbors and we want our visitors to enjoy the rich offerings along our trail. So… here’s a bit more on my day in Frenchtown.
As I rode into town I found the main street to be quite small. Just about 4 blocks at the most and because I was there on a Wednesday afternoon I expected a quiet town. This place was like a well kept secret that even the locals weren’t in on. Everything was either closed for the day or by three o’clock. So when I rode in around noon there was the usual midweek bustle that small towns like this have but by three o’clock, the whole town was wrapped up! This didn’t bother me though because I had already had two great slices of pizza from Galasso’s Pizzeria and although I couldn’t quite understand the man who served up my slice of margarita and a second with broccoli, tomato, with ricotta cheese I’m pretty sure he appreciated my business. And I was fueled up for the ride back to PA.
My next planned stop was the local bike shop called Cycle Corner just a few store fronts away from Galasso’s but sadly they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
This was a bummer because I wanted to write about some local riding secrets and group rides for my readers this week. But that was a no go. If you are interested in finding out more about the riding in this area (I know I am!) stop by or go to their web page at www.thecyclecorner.com.
With the bike shop closed and the rest of the town slowing down I took notice of a few other spots that seemed to me like prime small town hang outs. The first place that caught my eye was The Bridge Café. A quaint establishment just across the town’s bridge that boasted premium ice cream, espresso, baked goods, and what appeared to be finer dining – all with plentiful outdoor seating next to the Delaware. Sounds good, right? Check this place out if you ever swing through Frenchtown and while you’re at it don’t miss out all of the other unique clothing and specialty stores on Main Street. Keep in mind, this town is an early raiser and a weekender. If you’re from my neck of the woods (Carbon County) it takes about 1-1/2 hours to drive to this section of the D&L, which offers a whole new perspective to the 165 mile route.