It’s Always A Nice Hike Along The Scenic Walnutport Canal Spur.

It’s Always A Nice Hike Along The Scenic Walnutport Canal Spur.

Walnutport (5 of 39)
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It has  only been four years since I first hiked on the Walnutport Canal Spur in Northampton County. I decided to return Sunday morning. This  spur trail is part of the  D & L Trail and the The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.  This Corridor preserves the history and heritage of the Lehigh Canal which  was  completed along the Lehigh River in 1829.  The canal ended operations in 1931 but  local group of citizens preserved the canal in Walnutport.

The trailhead of the 3.9 mile trail is just before the bridge in Main Street. One can follow the trail north for about 1.4 miles north ending on the Lehigh River with a view of the historic and scenic Lehigh Gap.  Or   it follows the canal south for about 2.5 miles south ending at the Bertsch Creek which flows into the Lehigh River. As  I usually do, I followed the trail south under the mostly cloudy skies.

It is a scenic hike.  At the start of the trail the  canal is lined with many old trees  and well maintained homes across the canal. It was much greener here in Northampton County. Spring is always a few weeks ahead here then at  my home in Luzerne County.

There are usually large flocks of ducks and geese on the canal but I only saw this one male mallard duck on Sunday morning.

I also saw this gray squirrel gathering one of last years walnuts. Walnutport was named after the many walnut trees growing here. 

There were a few folks fishing along the canals as I continued my hike and walked past the historic Kelchner Lockhouse built in 1828.

In addition to the young leaves on the trees there were many flowers in bloom along the trail including  blue periwinkle,

greater celandine,

crab apple,

and lilacs, all invasive and cultivated species.

The only native wildflowers were the Philadelphia fleabane flowers. None of these flowers were blooming  near my home 40 miles north.

A short distance past  the Lockhouse I left the trail and followed another trail into the woodlands,

along a small stream that flowed into the Lehigh River.

Here the woods were filled with the sounds of birds singing and I was able to get photos of a few including this northern cardinal,

a white throated sparrow,

a mourning dove,

American robins. All of these birds remain in Pennsylvania during our Winters and are very  common’ in our woodlands.

I also saw a northern waterthrush near the stream. These birds travel to  the Caribbean Islands,  South and Central America for the Winter and breed here in bogs and along streams in northeastern Pennsylvania and further north.

There was also a Canada goose in the stream.

The trail took me to the Lehigh River where I often see common mergansers but there were none on Sunday.

I hiked back up to the trail along the canal  passing the large stone trestles form an abandoned railroad,

and this large oak tree.

The skies began to clear and the warm  late April sun brought the painted and

red slider turtles out of the waters of the canal.  I hope I got the identifications right.

I also saw heard, and saw this warbling vireo in a tree along the canal. It also just return from a  Winter in Mexico and Central America.

I continued my hike along the canal and came upon one of the ruins of the stone lock.

After the lock the canal ends and the waters enter a wetland. I had seen many mallard and wood ducks here on my hikes in previous years.

On Sunday I did not see a single wood duck and only  these three male mallards.

I wondered why there weren’t any ducks here in this wetland and, as I hiked further on the trail, I believe I got an answer. Last year the trail entered a dense woodland with the trees forming a thick canopy over the trail.  This year the trees along the river were cut.  I’m not sure why, but now the river could clearly be seen along the trail. I think the wood ducks and mallards were not comfortable with the now open space.

I came to the end  of  the 2 1/2 mile trail where Bertsch Creek flows into the Lehigh River. There was once an aqueduct here and a bridge crossing the stream but but have collapsed.

The clouds  cleared and the April sun lit up the trail on my return hike.

There were now a lot more birds active  in the woodlands along the trail.  I saw this  tufted titmouse on the ground  ahead of me on the trail. I never see these birds on the ground. I was a little puzzled what it was foraging for,

 when it  flew to a branch and I realized it was gathering  nesting material.

A also saw my first eastern towhee of the Spring. These birds are common in our woodlands and  are short distance migrants. traveling to the southern United States in the Winter.

There was also a Louisiana water thrush singing in the trees and,

a spotted sandpiper hopping on the rocks along the river.

I made my way back along the canal under the strong April sunshine. There were a lot of people, including many families enjoying this beautiful Spring morning and hiking out on the trail.

I admired the large oak tree again,

and  I noticed a few more  birds along the trail including a hairy woodpecker,

a red-bellied woodpecker,

some gray catbirds

grackles,

an eastern phoebe

and a few more northern cardinals.   Here is a link to  a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw my hike. Walnutport Canal Spur birds . April 28 2024.

 I walked past the lockhouse and finished my five mile hike.  I need to hike here more often, not only is the scenery beautiful, there are a lot of birds living in the woods along the canal. We are blessed in Northeastern Pennsylvania to have so many wonderful trail to hike and enjoy the beauty of nature, especially in the Spring. Here is a link to  a gallery with some more photos from my hike. Walnutport Canal Spur. April 28 2024.

Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there
To-morrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!
~L. H. Bailey, 

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