Riding Through Lehigh Gorge


My description of a perfect day would be an early morning spent reading/writing/thinking, being active (bicycle riding) in wilderness for most of the day, and finishing with a good meal with family and friends. This would cover my intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Yesterday I had one of those days when we took advantage of a free day from classes at Lehigh University and rode the 25 mile-trail through the Lehigh gorge state park.

State officials have done a remarkable job of turning a disused and abused area into one that is thriving and still benefits many people. It is a classic gorge of steep rocky cliffs, much of it covered by tree, carved out by the flowing water of the Lehigh river. The gorge was used to transport coal and later harvested for timber as well as transporting logs, and after a couple of large fires, it was abandoned. The state obtained it in the 1970s and 40 years later, it is used by thousands of hikers, bikers and rafters yearly.


We rented bikes in White Haven and rode the 25 miles south to the scenic town of Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk), Pennsylvania. We rode the same trail two years ago and we remember it as a struggle, but with the children two years older and our family riding more the past two years in Japan, the ride was easy. We could have ridden the 25 miles back, but instead took the shuttle back north to White Haven.

We had a few stops for swimming and throwing rocks in the river. The sound of a flowing river is so soothing and with the steep green walls and blue skies, the whole day was one of beauty. It is nice that the kids are getting older and we can do stuff like this with them. It also gives us a chance for conversations while we are putting in the long kilometers. To kill time waiting for the shuttle, we went back and found four geocaches along the trail that reignited the kids’ enthusiasm for geocaching. It is such an engaging activity for kids and it gives people the opportunity to see things they normally would pass by.

The view from the bike trail of the Lehigh river

I was nostalgic for my home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The remnants of the mining industry, the numerous trees and rock outcroppings, brought back memories of my beloved homeland. The Appalachians are so beautiful!

For dinner, Nadia prepared grilled salmon covered with an avocado paste that was gourmet quality. The heat of the day turned into a cool breeze in the evening. A perfect summer day!