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Lehigh Gap Nature Center Loop
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.
Moderate to Strenuous
Allowed on leash
Views, Historic feature
Driving DirectionsI-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.
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.
After 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.
At 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.
Back 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.
Turn by turn description0.00 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