Keystone Trails Association and the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club (SATC) are offering a hike on the eastern portion of KTA's recently rebuilt section of the Appalachian Trail and the Winter Trail. Join us on Saturday, April 8, 2023 for an eight mile hike at a moderate pace. The hike will feature spectacular views of the Lehigh Gap, Palmerton & Walnutport areas.
There will be two meeting places. For folks coming from south-central PA, you can meet us at the Grantville Holiday Inn (I-81 exit 80) (GPS 40.381340,-76.663659) at 8 am. For folks who live in the Lehigh Valley, meet us at the Lehigh Gap East parking lot (near intersection of PA
Routes 248 & 145, (GPS 40.78707,-75.60739) at 9:30 am.
Please email us at email@example.com if you plan to come. Mention where you plan to meet us.
The Appalachian Trail has been rerouted back onto the trail corridor just east of the Lehigh River between Palmerton and Walnutport, PA as of June, 2022. The 3.25 mile section was rebuilt by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps and a crew led by professional designer and trail builder Peter Jensen. The work was supervised by Bob Sickley, Regional Manager of the Trail from the Susquehanna River to the Hudson River. The map below shows the rerouted A.T. section.
The slideshow below shows the spectacular views of the Palmerton and Walnutport areas that are now visible from the A.T., as well as the excellent rock work done by the trail builders.
This reroute completes a process of remediation begun several years ago. This section of the A.T. goes through a federal Superfund site that was damaged by a zinc processing plant in Palmerton. The Trail was temporarily rerouted so that a team led by the federal Environmental Protection Agency could remediate the damaged soil and plant new trees and vegetation. More information on the remediation efforts can be found HERE.
Last October, KTA and other partners including ATC rerouted another section of the A.T., just west of the Lehigh River. The A.T. was rerouted onto the former North Trail, providing spectacular views of the Lehigh Gorge and surrounding area. More on that reroute can be found HERE.
KTA is grateful for the outstanding work performed by our volunteers and partners in making these relocations possible.
On May 26, we did a hike on the western side of our section. One purpose was to show our section to Brook Lenker, KTA's relatively new Executive Director. Another was to allow a number of trail colleagues the opportunity to get to know Brook. In addition to three folks from our KTA Lehigh Gap A.T. maintaining group, we were joined by representatives from Allentown Hiking Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail Museum, Batona Hiking Club, Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club and the Delaware & Lehigh Trail. It was a great day of fellowship and hiking with folks who share our passion for hiking trails.
Thanks to our friend and colleague Paula Uhrin, President of Allentown Hiking Club, for most of these photos.
The Appalachian Trail Section Committee of Keystone Trails Association has completed a reroute of the Appalachian Trail onto the former route of the North Trail. This A.T. reroute is in eastern Pennsylvania just west of the Lehigh River and approximately three miles southwest of Palmerton, PA, along the border of Lehigh and Carbon Counties. It was completed on October 16, 2021. The path of the reroute is shown on the enclosed graphic of a Google Map. The reroute is 2.2 miles in length and will add 0.7 mile to the A.T.
Jim Foster, Chair of the KTA A.T. Section Committee, said: “We’re excited to announce this portion of our reroute. Hikers in the Lehigh Valley have long known about the spectacular views of the Lehigh Gorge available on the North Trail. Now, hikers from all over the world who hike the Appalachian Trail will be able to see it. Our group has made several improvements to the North Trail during 2021. We think it’s time now to show off this great trail to the world, rather than waiting for the entire rerouted Trail to be completed.”
Scenes from the new Appalachian Trail, formerly the North Trail
The rerouted trail will be a return for the A.T. For many years the current North Trail was the path of the A.T. It was moved to the present path because of the environmental damage caused by the former zinc processing plant in Palmerton. Much of that damage on both sides of the Lehigh River has been remediated under the federal Superfund law. The portion from which the A.T. is being rerouted will be maintained as a side trail and is called the Bypass Trail. Thanks to everyone who submitted suggestion on what to name the new side trail.
This reroute is the first phase of a larger planned reroute of the A.T. within the KTA section. The remainder of the reroute will take place after a new path for the trail has been built. A portion of that new trail has been completed just west of Lehigh Furnace Gap by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew. More trail building will take place over the next several years. “At this point we do not have a timeframe for the additional reroutes”, Foster said. “We will announce additional reroutes as they become ready.”
HERE is a link to four maps that show all of the planned relocations.
Additional information on the reroute is available on the Section Committee’s website, https://ktalehighgapat.weebly.com/ Questions may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Appalachian Trail Section Committee of Keystone Trails Association is one of 31 clubs that maintains the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, America’s best known and most heavily used long distance hiking trail. The A.T. is the largest hiking-only footpath in the world, extending for approximately 2,190 miles from Mt. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. KTA’s A.T. Section Committee maintains the A.T. in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania from Lehigh Furnace Gap to Little Gap, plus three adjoining trails, the North Trail, the South Trail and the Winter Trail. Keystone Trails Association, based in Mechanicsburg, PA, is Pennsylvania’s statewide hiking and trails organization. KTA’s main website is https://www.kta-hike.org/
We’re going to have a group workday on Saturday, October 16, beginning at 9 am. The alternate day in the event of bad weather, etc. will be Saturday, October 23. We will meet at the Lehigh Gap East A.T. parking lot, off PA Route 248. HERE is a link to a map showing the location.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some special rules will be in effect.
• Please send an email to email@example.com or use the Reply form below, if you wish to come. I will send you a confirmation. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, please don't come if you haven't sent an email and received confirmation.
• Do not come if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or do not feel well.
• We will follow ATC’s guidelines for trail work during the pandemic found HERE. Please review this page, especially the poster “COVID-19 Guidelines For A.T. Volunteers”. You can download and print a copy there. If you need a mask, let us know in the "Comments" when you register.
• Before resuming any work on the A.T., including this workday, you MUST watch the COVID-19 Safety Training Video and complete the "Re-Engagement Acknowledgement - COVID-19". Links to both of these can be found on the webpage shown above.
We will be rerouting the A.T. onto the North Trail and turning the section of the A.T. being replaced into a side trail. We'll be painting the blue blazes white and the white blazes blue, plus putting up some temporary signs. Please bring a mask or bandanna, water or other drink, snacks, etc. Bring clothes suitable for working outside and that you don't mind getting paint on. If you have small brushes (about 1 inch), bring them, but we will provide some. If you have containers for paint like plastic milk containers with the tops cut off, bring them, but, again, we will provide some.
As always, THANK YOU for your support.
We have been working to improve the North Trail, on the southwest side of Lehigh Gap. The North Trail currently intersects the A.T. north of Lehigh Furnace Gap near the towers and rejoins it close to the Outerbridge shelter. Additional improvements are planned to the North Trail over the next several years, and it will eventually become the rerouted A.T. Follow this link to learn more about the North Trail:
Some of us feel that we should reroute the A.T. onto the path of the current North Trail NOW. The North Trail provides spectacular views of the Lehigh Gorge and surrounding area. We would retain and maintain the present A.T. as a side trail, for use as in inclement weather, to make a loop hike, etc.
We want your opinion.
Please follow THIS LINK to take the poll. By the way, we also created a poll on our Facebook page. Please respond to only ONE of these polls, to keep our numbers accurate.
Keystone Trails Association has an Event Code of Conduct that covers all events, including work on our section of the Appalachian Trail. We are posting it here so that all volunteers will be aware of it.
The Keystone Trails Association (KTA) is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and
welcoming environment and an experience that embraces the richness of diversity where all
participants may hike, recreate, exchange ideas, learn, network, and socialize in the company of
other participants in an environment of mutual respect. KTA does not tolerate harassment
and requires all participants to abide by this policy in all venues, events and social gatherings. Participants include, but are not limited to, attendees, exhibitors, speakers, members, guests, contractors, volunteers and staff.
If a participant violates this policy, KTA and/or its event staff may take appropriate steps to remedy the situation, including but not limited to removing the participant from the event or any future event without warning or refund.
A group of volunteers from KTA has been maintaining a section of America’s most popular long distance trail, the A.T., since 2016. Some improvements and relocations of the A.T. have been in the works even before KTA took over the section. Hikers on the A.T. and adjoining trails may see marker flags along the footpath. These are NOT to be followed by hikers at present. They simply mark the planned route of the trail. HERE is a link to four maps that show the planned relocations.
Here is a brief description of the planned relocation and improvements. The description follows the A.T. northbound, from Lehigh Furnace Gap. Shortly after the trail crosses Ashfield Road at LFG, it will turn left off its current route toward the Lehigh Gorge overlook. It will follow the overlook for about a mile, then go back closer to the present A.T. for about a mile. After passing over the tunnel through which the PA Turnpike northeast extension passes, the new trail will continue slightly north of the present route, until it connects with the North Trail. For the most part, the present path of the North Trail will become the new A.T., continuing again along the ridge of the Lehigh Gorge. Then the new A.T. will follow a different path down the ridge, with a new side trail to the Outerbridge A.T. shelter, and continue on a mostly rerouted path down to Lehigh Gap. These relocations will provide several excellent vistas of the Gorge and an improved route down to Lehigh Gap. We plan to keep the former route of the A.T. as a side trail. Our tentative name for this trail is the Old Trail.
Speaking of relocations, PennDOT is planning to either replace or make substantial improvements to the bridge that carries PA Route 873 and the A.T. over the Lehigh River. We’ve participated in meetings including PennDOT, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and other interested parties. We don’t have complete details of the new bridge yet. We do know that PennDOT has begun a study of the bridge, which will take a few years to complete. We also know that it is extremely likely that the A.T. will follow a new sidewalk on the north side of the bridge, rather than the current path on the southern side. We’ll provide more details to the hiking community as we receive them.
Going over to the east side of the Lehigh River, the trail will be unchanged from the bridge to the large Lehigh Gap East parking lot. It will begin the ascent up the mountain closer to the parking lot, via a series of switchbacks. The famous rock scramble will remain almost unchanged. From there to Little Gap there will be significant changes.
If you hiked this section more than five years ago, you’ll recall traveling over bare almost treeless terrain that resembled a moonscape. The trail was temporarily rerouted to allow for a remediation project. The moonscape appearance was caused by damage from fumes coming from a now defunct zinc processing plan down the mountain in Palmerton. It was actually a federal Superfund site. Over the past several years contractors have removed the tainted soil and trees and grasses. Over the next few years the trail will be moved back to the top of the mountain. The moonscape is gone and replaced by a meadow of trees and grasses. Closer to Little Gap you’ll find a section of trail that has been rerouted by the Mid-Atlantic trail crew. Lastly, the most recent relocation that you can walk on now was done on the Winter Trail. The crew did a great job of rock work there, including creating a couple of new views of the Lehigh Gorge.
Check back frequently for news on the progress of these reroutes and renovations. We hope to complete a portion of the reroute on the western side of the Lehigh in 2021.
A small group of trail volunteers completed some important restoration work on the Appalachian Trail on a Saturday in early November. The A.T. section just south of Lehigh Gap in eastern Pennsylvania was washed out by a torrential tropical storm last August. The storm cut huge ruts in the trail and washed out water bars. Hikers had started a bushwhack trail up the side of the hill to avoid the damage.
Five volunteers from the Keystone Trails Association Appalachian Trail group performed the restoration work on a beautiful fall day. Charlie, Janet, Kathy, Steve and Jim hauled rocks from nearby piles and placed them in the ruts. They rebuilt several water bars to divert water away from the trail. The bushwhack trail was blocked with trees and brush at both ends. The group plans to put up some wooden posts with painted blazes to direct hikers to the proper trail. The group stayed socially distant and followed the A.T.’s guidelines for trail work during the pandemic.
Thanks should also go to the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club and Appalachian Trail Conservancy for allowing the KTA’s A.T. group to borrow tools for the work.
We’re going to have a group workday on Saturday, November 7, beginning at 9 am. The alternate day in the event of bad weather, etc. will be Saturday, November 14. We will meet at the Lehigh Gap East A.T. parking lot, off PA Route 248. HERE is a link to a map showing the location.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some special rules will be in effect.
We will be repairing some ruts caused by storms, brush trimming, minor sawing and blazing in a few locations. Please bring a mask or bandanna, water or other drink, snacks, and (if you have them) hedge trimmers, hand saws, etc. Bring clothes suitable for working outside in hot weather, sunblock and insect repellent. We have some tools and equipment, so let me know in your email if you need anything.
As always, THANK YOU for your support.