Lehigh River Water Trail

Lehigh River Water Trail

The Lehigh River is a beautiful, natural resource offering opportunities for recreation and respite.

Water trails are navigable waterways suitable for canoes, kayaks and small motorized watercraft. Like conventional trails, water trails are recreational corridors between specific locations. Water trails are comprised of access points, boat launches, day use sites and – in some cases – overnight camping areas. Each water trail is unique, a reflection of Pennsylvania’s diverse geology, ecology and communities.

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Pennsylvania Water Trails embrace the Leave No Trace code of outdoor ethics that promotes the responsible use and enjoyment of the outdoors.

The Lehigh River Water Trail is 72 miles long, starting at White Haven and ending in the City of Easton at the Lehigh River’s confluence with the Delaware River. There the traveler can continue down the Delaware toward Philadelphia and beyond to Delaware Bay. The Lehigh River is a state-designated Scenic River and offers a wide diversity of plant and animal life.

Lehigh River Water Trail Manager

Wildlands Conservancy, the premier nonprofit land trust of the Lehigh Valley and 10-county Lehigh River watershed, also serves as the Lehigh River’s designated water trail manager. Wildlands has been creating lasting connections to nature since 1973 through land protection, environmental stewardship and education. As the Lehigh River Water Trail manager, Wildlands forwards education and recreation opportunities that support the continued protection of the Lehigh River, maintaining a perpetual focus on improved water quality and wildlife habitat throughout the watershed.

Northern Section

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A kayaker maneuvering rapids as the Lehigh cuts through Jim Thorpe

This 41-mile segment of the Lehigh River Water Trail begins at White Haven, with an access point to the Lehigh Gorge State Park, and ends at Lehigh Gap along the Carbon-Lehigh-Northampton counties border. At the Gap, the Lehigh River cuts through the Kittatinny Ridge or “Blue Mountain,” an ecologically important area for conservation. Deep gorges and fast-moving water, as well as scenic beauty, characterize this section of the water trail. Substantial canoeing or kayaking experience is required to maneuver most sections in this reach of the Lehigh River. It contains several access points and traverses 26 miles of Lehigh Gorge State Park. Special whitewater safety regulations are required to paddle within the state park.

Southern Section

This 31-mile segment of the Lehigh River Water Trail begins at  Lehigh Gap and traverses through the Lehigh Valley to end at the confluence of the Lehigh River and Delaware River in the City of Easton.

Flat water is common in the metro-wildnerness reaches of Allentown and Bethlehem.

The wider, flatter reach of the Lehigh’s “metro-wildnerness”

This reach of the Lehigh River Water Trail widens out and tends to become more leisurely than the northern section. The land around the river is characterized by rolling hills and forested riparian corridors. The Lehigh River contains numerous access points in this section and passes through the urban centers of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.