Lehigh Gap Nature Center Loop

Overview

Just north of the Appalachian Trail lies a side of the Kittatinny Ridge denuded by a century of industrial pollution.  Now undergoing revitalization, a well-blazed network of multi-tiered hiking trails - from river level to mountain ridges - provides miles of panoramic views into the Lehigh Gap and Pocono region.

Details
Time:
5 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate to Strenuous
Length:
7.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Lehigh
State:
PA
Maps/Books
Publication
First Published:
03/01/2012
Submitter:
Daniela Wagstaff
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
40.784222, -75.609287
Driving Directions
I-78 West to exit 71 for PA-33 N toward US-22/Stroudsburg.  Continue on PA-33 North for 6 miles.  Take the PA-248 exit toward Wilson.  At the end of the exit ramp turn right onto PA-248 W/Nazareth Rd. Continue to follow PA-248 W for 19 miles.  Turn left at the traffic light and cross the bridge on PA 873.  Googlemaps will instruct to turn right after the bridge at an AT parking lot but there is no access taking that route.  Instead, continue after crossing the bridge and stay on PA 873 South for 0.25 mile then make a sharp left turn on Paint Mill Road following the signs for the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
Description

From the parking lot at the Nature Center’s Osprey House, start walking out the way you drove in, watching for stone steps leading up to the right at a large sign for the Prairie Warbler Trail.  Follow this trail uphill along interpretive signs explaining the revitalization in progress.  In 0.15 mile reach an intersection where the Prairie Warbler Trail continues to the right to form a horseshoe loop back to the parking lot.  Turn left here on the pink-blazed Woodpecker Trail.   The Woodpecker Trail continues on a moderate incline, reaching the white-blazed Appalachian Trail in about a quarter of a mile.  Be aware that the Appalachian Trail portion of this hike traverses State Game Lands where hiking should be limited to Sundays during hunting season.

Turn right on the Appalachian Trail and continue ascending, reaching the Outerbridge Shelter 0.85 mile into the hike.  The level trail surface at the shelter provides a break before heading steeply uphill once again.  A mile into the hike, stay on the Appalachian Trail when the North Trail starts to the right.  Continue on the white-blazed AT through this wooded side of the mountain as several unmarked trails branch off.  Near the top of the incline there will be seasonal views to the left through the trees.

NW View from the North TrailAfter crossing a gravel road then a woods road, two communications towers come into view on the right.  Continue on the Appalachian Trail until you reach the second sign for the North Trail at the third communications tower 2.6 miles into the hike.  Turn right on the blue-blazed North Trail.  After a few steps cross a gravel road with the communications tower directly on your left.  A few more steps bring you into a completely different world on the other side of the mountain ridge.  As the blue-blazed North Trail veers to the right, a panorama spreads out before you.  No need to stop to enjoy the views unless you want to because this is the scenery that will be with you for most of the remainder of the hike.  Starting here you will experience full exposure due to the lack of trees so plan accordingly before starting out.  A hot summer day would probably not be a good choice.  Also expect very rocky walking surfaces on this mostly level trail.

After about 2 miles, arrive at an intersection where a right turn leads back to the Appalachian Trail.  Look down to your left and notice a large rock with “DP” and an arrow painted in blue.  Follow the arrow to the left, staying on the blue-blazed trail, heading towards the Devil’s Pulpit.  Keep right at an unmarked fork a short distance ahead. 

Panoramic View from Devils PulpitAt the next intersection in 0.2 mile arrive at a sign for North Trail NE and North Trail SW.  To the right the North Trail NE leads to the Devil’s Pulpit.  Although a short out-and-back trail, it will seem much longer.  This is a very steep and strenuous scramble down the side of the rocky mountain to a flat rock outcrop, the Devil’s Pulpit.  At this rock outcrop you hover over the Lehigh Gap facing the continuation of the Kittatinny Ridge where the Appalachian Trail continues north.  You can always start towards the Devil’s Pulpit and turn back if it proves to be too challenging.  Remember the only way out is back up and you will need to climb back up to return to this intersection to pick up the North Trail SW for the remainder of the hike.

Prairie GrassesBack at the intersection, continue the hike following the North Trail SW a short distance to the orange-blazed Charcoal Trail.  Follow the orange blazes as the trail climbs moderately over ground once used for charcoal making.  Panoramic views continue all along this trail, a level below the North Trail, in the opposite direction.  When the Charcoal Trail ends turn right and follow the Prairie Grass Loop through restored grassland habitat. 

The Prairie Grass Loop ends another level lower at the LNE Trail, a smooth and level foot traffic only rail bed that follows the contour of the mountain 100 feet up from the multi-use D&L Trail and the Lehigh River.  The Bobolink Trail that begins at this intersection, leads down to the D&L Trail.  Turn right and follow the wide, unblazed LNE Trail.  Interpretive signs explain the history of the area.  In half a mile, look up to see the Devil’s Pulpit from earlier in the hike, looming on the side of the mountain.  The rail bed of the LNE Trail ends at an interpretive sign at the end of the left side of a fork where a bridge once spanned the Lehigh River.  After visiting this area, retrace a few steps and take the right leg of the fork which extends the LNE Trail as a footpath uphill and over to the entrance road of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

When you reach the loop of the Nature Center drive, turn right to return to the Osprey House and the parking lot.

Click here for more pictures of this hike.

Turn by turn description
0.00    Walk towards parking lot entrance and turn right up stone steps to Prairie Warbler Trail0.15    Turn left on the pink-blazed Woodpecker Trail0.30    Keep left on Woodpecker Trail when unmarked trail goes right; keep right when unmarked goes straight0.45    Turn right on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail0.85    At Outerbridge shelter, the AT levels out briefly then starts steeply uphill again.1.00    North Trail goes right, keep left; AT levels out; several unofficial trails branch off, stay on AT2.15    Cross gravel road2.20    Cross woods road2.30    1st communications tower on right2.35    Small power cut and 2nd communications tower2.60    Turn right on blue-blazed North Trail and pass communications tower to the left at gravel road crossing4.60    Turn left at DP painted on rock; short distance ahead keep right at unmarked fork 4.80    Right on North Trail NE and descend to Devil's Pulpit; retrace5.05    Back at intersection continue on North Trail SW to orange-blazed Charcoal Trail6.05    Right on Prairie Grass Loop 6.35    Turn right on LNE Trail where Bobolink Trail starts on the opposite side6.85    Pass under Devil's Pulpit7.05    At fork, end of LNE with interpretive sign to left, footpath uphill to right to continue7.35    Footpath ends at gravel loop road, turn right on gravel road back to parking lot7.50    Back at parking lot

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

amazing!

I did this hike earlier today (9/5/16), and it was amazing! The hike up to and along the Appalachian Trail was fine, but nothing special, but the return part of the loop (North Trail/Charcoal Trail/LNE Trail) was stupendous! Usually on a hike, you get very few and far between vistas, but you have great views for much of the hike once you shift over to the North Trail.   A few comments about the original writeup: (1) The Woodpecker Trail now has orange blazes (not pink as Mr. Chazin indicates). (2) The description of the vicinity of the North Trail/former trail to the Devil’s Pulpit/Charcoal Trail is no longer correct. As a previous poster has indicated, the trail to the Devil’s Pulpit no longer officially exists. At N 40º47'07.8", W 075º37'00.4", there is the signpost which Mr. Chazin talks about (North Trail NE & North Trail SW). As you approach this sign (from the west), make a very sharp turn to the left on a trail which has yellow blazes. In about 1/3 mile, you will see a sign for the Charcoal Trail, which is more or less a continuation of the yellow-blazed trail. (There is a faint trail going off to the right at this point; possibly this is the former trail to the Devil’s Pulpit?) Once you’re on the Charcoal Trail, you’ll see the orange blazes that Mr. Chazin indicates. (Note that what is now blazed in yellow also has some residual blue showing through the over-painted yellow. On the Nature Center’s map, indeed this section is marked in blue, but this was presumably changed to yellow on the ground to avoid confusion with the blue-blazed North Trail.) Regarding the Devil’s Pulpit, there are obvious (unblazed) trails going steeply up from the LNE Trail which presumably were beaten by foolhardy folks aiming for the pulpit from below.

I am not the author of this hike

I should point out that the references to my name in the above comment are misplaced.  This hike was written by Daniella Wagstaff, not by me, and I have never done this hike myself.

Devils Pulpit Trail is closed

Due to safety concerns, the organization that manages this area has closed the Devils Pulpit Trail.  Now, when you are hiking on the North Trail, you will eventually come to a T intersection at the "North Trail NE SW" sign. Make a right and you will go down the mountain on the North Trail to reconnect with the AT. Make a left and follow the yellow blazes for the Charcoal Trail to complete the hike suggested by Daniela.  This whole area is really blooming now due to the efforts of volunteers to reclaim the land and create a natural experience.

Paul

Great hike.  Not the prettiest of areas due to the years of raveging by mankind but the scenery and views from up top are interesting, especially now that the prairie grasses are growing in and the area revitalized.  I was a little confused around the turnoff to Devil's Pulpit.  Has the trail grown in or has it been relocated?  I turned left by a very faint "DP" marked on a rock, but it was a bushwhack from there until I eventually found my way down the mountain to the Charcoal Trailhead.  Oddly enough this bushwack is marked in what appear to be freshly painted blue blazes, but your just struggling your way from one blue blaze to another through brush and over rocks.  Almost like orienterring.  No evidence of a recently used trail anywhere, and this will be impossible for all but the most hardy of adventurers come later spring and summer when everything has grown in.  Maybe I was supposed to continue further on the North Trail and take an easier way down?  I did see a yellow blazed trail that may have been what I needed but by then I was already where I needed to be.  I eventually made my way down the Charcoal trail to LNE trail and back to the car.  Thanks for the hike.