Wildlands Biking

This was Wildlands Conservancy’s first nature preserve and was permanently protected in 1973. This 400-acre preserve boasts nearly 11 miles of woodland trails and is a beloved hiking and biking oasis. It is a heavily forested preserve with rocky outcrops and overlooks of the Lehigh Valley.

ADA loop | .17 miles
This trail is a .17 mile around our habitat regeneration deer exclosure area. It can be accessed by taking the middle trail at the Boroline Park trailhead and keeping on the crushed stone path. Total elevation changes of only 10 ft. along this route.

Uplands Trail | .7 miles
This trail providing access to the Mountain Top and Log trails is relatively easy to walk, but is rocky and uneven in areas. Elevation changes 270 along this trail.

Trout Run Trail | 1.2 Miles
This trail offers a spectacular overlook of Emmaus and Allentown through a utility cut. The trail also crosses babbling streams running down the hillside and has great views of unique boulder formations. It can be rocky and uneven in areas with elevation changes of 220 feet.

Alpine St Trail | 1.7 miles
This loop is a climb necessary to reach the upper trails. The trail is rocky in many places and crosses several small streams. Spectacular boulder formations and reclaimed quarry areas are major features on this route. Please be mindful and avoid the marked trails leading to private property at the edges of the preserve. Elevation changes 230 feet.

Alpine/Ithaca On-street Connection | .7 miles
This on-street connection runs on Glenwood St. between Ithaca Playlot and Boroline Park. Trail markers on utility poles and the backs of stop signs mark the route. This trail is smoothly paved but does not include sidewalks, and climbs 50 ft from Ithaca Playlot to Boroline Park.

Mountain Top Trail | .9 miles
This multi-use trail offers many elevation changes and switchback turns and is a favorite of mountain bikers. Elevations change 160 feet.

Bug Trail | .9 miles
This trail is named in memorial- not for a prevalence of insects. The trail is very rugged and can be difficult in places. There are many switchbacks and elevation changes along this trail, which connects the Trout Run and Uplands trails. A large glacial boulder stands about the forest floor on the south side of the trail. Elevation change of 130 ft.

Wilderness Trail | .6 miles
The Wilderness trail connects the Alpine Street trail to Ithaca Playlot and the Alpine/Ithaca On street trail completes a loop back to the Alpine trail; creating an enjoyable hiking with a large variety of trail types. This trail passes old mining sites, from South Mountain’s Industrial Revolution past, which have since been reclaimed by nature to create pools that are vital for amphibian populations. This easy trail only climbs 90 ft from Ithaca Playlot to the Alpine St. trail.

Log Trail | 2 miles
This winding trail was constructed with mountain bikers in mind but is open to hikers also. To access the trail, users must traverse the utility corridor from the Upland trail–watching for trail markers designating the beginning of the Log Trail.  Extensive communities of spring flowers like Mayapple are found on this mountaintop trail. This is an easy trail with elevation changes of 110ft.

South Mountain provides habitat for endangered bat species and many bird species including Carolina oriels, pileated woodpeckers, veery, black-throated blue warblers, worm-eating warblers, and ovenbirds. Its bogs and streams host rare insects and amphibians. Nature preserve users share trails with deer and foxes.

The largely deciduous forest contains a blend of red oak, tulip, maple, and beech, with some stands of over 100 years.

In early spring, even before the snows melt, one of the earliest spring wildflowers blooms on South Mountain – skunk cabbage. Skunk Cabbage blossoms appear weeks before the plant’s leaves, which will last through late fall, arrive. These blooms, which look like dappled brown or green hoods, melt through the snow by generating their own heat.

Other notable plant species include spicebush, wineberry bushes, and eastern redbud trees.

A handful of forward-thinking citizens put pencil to paper to permanently protect their beloved South Mountain and the natural beauty it cast upon the Lehigh Valley. Their efforts were matched with the committed support of Robert “Bob” Rodale, a local champion of organic farming and then chairman and chief of Rodale Press. Rodale’s move enabled the purchase of South Mountain Preserve as one of the organization’s first land acquisitions in 1973.

Before its protection, the mountain served the Lenni Lenape people by providing settlements, refuge, and a vital source of trade materials. European settlements were founded by the Moravians, who settled in areas with vital drinking water sources, which flowed reliably, even in dry periods. As the green background in the Industrial Revolution, the forests were timbered for lumber and mined for iron ore, limestone for the steel mills, and, in limited quantities, gold and uranium.

Interested in getting involved at South Mountain Preserve?