A hike in the Lehigh Gap Carbon County

A hike in the Lehigh Gap Carbon County

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After seeing the yellow-rumped warblers in the PPL Wetlands yesterday, I decided to hike in the Lehigh Gap in Carbon County hoping to see more migrating song birds. In past years I would see them along the trails over the river as they migrated north. 

I parked at the River Point parking area in Bowmanstown  around 9 a.m. and began my 7 mile  hike near the  3 Pond Trail. There are wetlands and ponds in this area  and I also hoped to see some ducks and geese here.  It was sunny and a seasonably cold 28 degrees when I arrived. 

I was a bit disappointed when I only saw a pair of mallard ducks and Canada geese on the ponds. However, there were quite a few other birds in the woodlands, including a number of male red-winged blackbirds perched in the treetops.

I saw this tufted titmouse singing on the branch of a tree, as well as 

the, I think chipping sparrow and

this white-throated sparrow.  

There were also a few cardinals searching for food.

And some woodpeckers high in the treetops.

I observed the birds in the wetlands and looked for more water fowl but, not seeing any, I hiked past the largest pond. 

and up the steep path to the Line Trail.

The Line Trail begins as a wide,  well maintained trail that follows the right of way of the old Lehigh and New England railroad. It follows the Lehigh River, about 200 feet below as it winds through the Lehigh Gap.  As will be seen it isn’t as wide or well maintained when it ends near the Lehigh Gap visitor center. 

It was a nice walk under in the March sun. Views of the river and the towns that grew on its banks. 

One of these, Palmertown, was the location of a large zinc smelting plant that polluted the surrounding hillsides. When I was a child visiting the city of Philadelphia the hills were brown and dead even in the Spring and Summer,

Finally, with the help of conservation groups they are green again. Many areas along the trail are planted with native grasses. 

There are signs identifying them along the trail and explaining their significance to the environment. 

I reflected on the history of this famous water gap as I walked along the trail and observed the towns below.

. Native Americans followed the  Lehigh River north from the Delaware River  and crossed the mountains near my home in Hazle township to follow the Nescopeck Creek to the Susquehanna River. The Moravian missionaries followed the river north from Allentown for lumber and built settlements along the way. Benjamin Franklin walked through this gap as part of the Pennsylvania militia and established a Fort in present day Weissport. Many settlers followed. And when coal was discovered canals and railroads were built along the river to bring it to the markets in Philadelphia and New York. 

Near the water gap there is a hill that stands alone near the river. Situated atop this hill is a house. When I was young it was abandoned and dilapidated. Of course we thought it was haunted and called it the “Adams Family” house.

It has since been purchased and remodeled but its history still tells an interesting story. Here is a link to an article in a local newspaper about that history. https://www.mcall.com/news/mc-xpm-1987-08-23-2588654-story.html?fbclid=IwAR3fNVZNHgl8paiQRQVKN9LSQPdLJ-isEMOMKRi4BJBoZZ1_GFnNIeHoeIM

 

The wide trail narrowed as it approached the old bridge of the New Jersey Central railroad that spanned the river. 

An informative sign at an overlook provided some history about the many forms of transportation that passed through this narrow gap over the centuries. 

The trail was now narrow and steep as it descended 200 feet down to the D & L trail along the river. 

Once I reached the lower trail I hiked to the visitor center and began my 3 1/2 mile return hike. 

The Lehigh/Carbon County lines is just past the visitor center.

The March sun warmed the cold morning air and drew dozens of walkers, runners,, hikers and bikers to the trail.

I had hoped to see some birds along the trail, maybe even a bald eagle or  hawk in the skies over the river. I have seen bald eagles here before. However no eagles, hawks or even song birds on this sunny day. A few turkey vultures flew overhead and I saw a few common mergansers on the river but that was it  for any bird sightings. This is a link to a gallery in my blog website with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Lehigh Gap hike birds March 1 2020. 

Still, I enjoyed the sunshine and the views of the Lehigh River reflecting the deep blue skies. That sun will continue to warm it up and it won’t be long until the song birds, and flowers. insects, reptiles and amphibians return to the Lehigh Gap and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I can’t wait!Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Lehigh Gap March 1 2020.

“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot”
― Werner Herzog

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