LEHIGH GORGE STATE PARK
Lehigh Gorge State Park is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks, and is in Luzerne and Carbon counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The park follows the Lehigh River from the outlet of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end, to the town of Jim Thorpe at the southern end of the park. The deep gorge, steep walls and thick vegetation, rock outcroppings and many waterfalls characterize the entire park.
Settlement was sparse during the 19th century until loggers arrived and began felling trees and building sawmills. Famed naturalist and painter John James Audubon visited the area in 1829 and spent six weeks painting birds. He was distressed at how quickly trees were cut and shipped down river. The industrial revolution was just beginning in the area.
The discovery of anthracite coal at Summit Hill in 1791 caused intensive development and settlement of the upper Lehigh Valley. In the early 1800s, the need to transport increasingly large quantities of coal to markets down river led to the intensive development of canals. Between 1835 and 1838, a series of dams, locks, and canals was constructed by Josiah White and the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. White constructed 20 dams and 29 locks over the 26 miles between Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) and White Haven. Five and one-half miles of canal were also built. It was called the Upper Grand Section of the Lehigh Canal because the locks and dams were larger and far more impressive than the locks of other canals.
When severe flooding in the mid-1800s destroyed the canal system, it was replaced with the new technology of railroads. Remains of locks, dams and towpath are still evident in the Lehigh River Gorge.
Loggers continued to clearcut the huge white pine and hemlock trees for lumber and for the bark, which was used to tan hides. In the 1860s, the second largest tannery in the United States sat on the banks of the Lehigh River at the small town of Lehigh Tannery.
A terrible forest fire swept through the Lehigh Gorge area in 1875, burning the remaining standing timber, many sawmills and stockpiles of lumber. The sawmills closed and the loggers departed.
At the turn of the 20th century, railroads popularized the southern end of the canal as a resort called Glen Onoko. Hotel Wahnetah boasted 47 rooms, a dance pavilion, tennis courts, fresh air and hikes to the scenic Glen Onoko Falls. A fire in 1911 closed the hotel and a fire in 1917 ended the resort era. The gorge lay forgotten.
In the 1970s, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began purchasing parklands and in 1980 the land was turned over to the Bureau of State Parks.
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Lehigh Gorge State Park is located near Bath, Hazleton and Lehighton
The 26-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail is open for biking. Wide tires are recommended. Bicycle rentals and shuttle service are available throughout the area.
Hikers need to be aware that the Gorge is a natural area that possesses natural hazards like steep and treacherous terrain and fast-moving water. Hikers must protect themselves from life-threatening accidents. You are responsible for you and your family's safety. Wear proper hiking shoes and use extreme caution when hiking in the gorge.
A wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs are offered April to November. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
B C Bait Inc
861 Indian Hill Rd
Kriss Pines Trout Fishing Lake
469 Forest St
Beaver Run Rod & Gun Club
Mountain Laurel Resort & Spa The
State Highway 940
White Haven, PA
Harmony Lake Shore Inn
White Haven, PA
Located near popular recreational attractions, including the Claws 'N' Paws Wild Animal Park, Steamtown National Historic Site and Promised Land State Park. NASCAR fans will enjoy a day at the races at nearby Pocono Raceway.
38.7 miles from park*
White Haven is the northern access area and can be reached off of Exit 273 of I-80. Follow PA 940 east to the Thriftway store. Go through the Thriftway parking lot and bear left to the state park access area.
Rockport is the central access area and can be reached from the south by following US 209 south from Jim Thorpe to PA 93 north, continuing to SR 2055 (Lehigh Gorge Drive), through Weatherly into the small village of Rockport at SR 4014. Rockport is accessible from the north by following PA 940 west from Exit 273 off I-80, left onto SR 2055 (Lehigh Gorge Drive) continuing to the small village of Rockport at SR 4014.
Glen Onoko is the southern access area and may be reached by taking Exit 74 of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Follow US 209 south to Jim Thorpe. Then take PA 903 north across the river to Coalport Road. Turn off of Coalport to Glen Onoko.