Biking on the Lehigh River Gorge Trail

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What to do in Jim Thorpe, PA.

All work and no play is no way to live life.  I try to focus all of my efforts during the week on my blog and then on the weekends it is time to have fun, time to get away from the computer for some fresh air and sunshine.

Yesterday my husband, Ed and I went on a biking adventure– about 1 hour north of our home to the town of Jim Thorpe, PA  I have had a brochure in my desk for about 5 years about the great biking and whitewater rafting trips that the area is known for and we finally took advantage of it.  I packed a picnic lunch and off we went 50 miles up the Northeast extension of the PA turnpike to the town of Jim Thorpe.



Jim Thorpe is a scenic paradise nestled between three mountains in upper south eastern Pennsylvania. The town is an oasis of perfectly preserved history; the architecture is purely Victorian.


Photo: Google Images

The Lehigh River flows in a highly winding course through valleys between ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. The bike path follows the river.

Lehigh River Gorge

We were not sure what to expect as the town is in an area to which the economy has not been too kind. I was happy to see that Jim Thorpe is one cute little town that seems to be holding its own.


The first thing you assume when you visit Jim Thorpe is that the town’s namesake, the famed Native-American Olympian and overall sportsman, was a native of the town. He is not.  The town, originally named Mauch Chunk, was looking to rename itself to attract businesses in 1953, the year of Jim’s death.

Jim Thorpe, PAPhoto:

After negotiations with his widow, the town “bought his remains,” erected a monument, and renamed the town in his honor.

Jim Thorpe monument

Now it is a hub for all things outdoorsy in the summer months. Bike and kayak rentals, plus Whitewater rafting trips.


The Harry Packer Mansion Inn is perched on one of the hills, just steps from historic downtown, it sits like a sentinel overlooking the town. The mansion’s impressive facade could have been taken from a Gothic novel, so much so that the building’s design caught the eye of Disney Imagineers and it became the model for Walt Disney World’s “Haunted Mansion!” I thought that was a very cool fact!

Packer Museum in Jim thorpe. PA

I was thinking the trail would be hilly, but it was not at all as the trail followed the Lehigh River down in the gorge. The bike trail runs 25 miles north from Jim Thorpe to the town of White Haven, PA. We biked the entire length and back – 50 miles.

Map-of-the-Lehigh-Gorge Bike Trail

I took these photos while I was riding using my iPhone. They came out very well considering I was in motion.

On one side of the bike trail was a railroad that runs a scenic trip for tourists.


On the other side of the trail is the Lehigh River. It was hard for me to focus on the trail in front of me as there was so much to see and hear on either side of me.



PA-Scenic River System

We passed nature’s air conditioning in the way of waterfalls. There were a lot of them and the temperature dropped 20 degrees every time we passed one. It felt refreshing!

Waterfalls along the Lehigh river Gorge

We also went over a lot of scenic bridges…


and heard lots of people having fun rafting and kayaking on the river…


We even saw a few different groups of Mennonite women out enjoying the beautiful day. They were in their standard attire – printed cotton dresses and their mesh bonnets.  No special riding attire needed for them to enjoy the beauty of the trail.


I packed a picnic lunch. It fit into my bike basket. We stopped to eat about 2 hours into the ride so we could enjoy the river.

Picnic-Lunch on the Lehigh River

The water was moving fast on many parts of the river, it was nice listening to the rushing water as we rode.


It was all so charming.  I was so happy we went. The weather was perfect – the day was perfect.   It was one fantastic bike ride – no hills and the great scenery made it feel more like I was on vacation in Colorado instead of a grueling workout.  I only wish we had done this sooner – so close to home, but yet we never took advantage of it.  We sure are now. I can’t wait to go back and go kayaking.


When we got back down to Jim Thorpe after riding for 6 hours I couldn’t wait…


to finally be able to stick my tootsies in the water. It was cold, but felt great on my tired feet…ahhhhhh!


There is so much to do in Jim Thorpe – nice restaurants, hotels and B&B’s, unique shops, great outdoorsy stuff to do on the river, bike trails, train rides, the relaxing Mauch Chunk Lake Park, and a lot of entertainment for a town this size.  If you live anywhere in eastern Pennsylvania this is a fun destination for a daycation.

Have you found a place close to your home that you wished you had known about sooner, so you could have been enjoying all it had to offer?

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  1. I’m glad you had so much fun. You and your hubby both look really happy. It’s nice to find an activity that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to enjoy!

  2. Thanks for sharing! It brought me back to my 10th anniversary when my husband thought it would be great to do the same, but living in the Wilkes-Barre area, we started in White Haven. My husband kept insisting that we were going uphill first. 15 miles into our ride, one bottle of water left and one very big hill behind us, he relented. We stopped, turned around and had to do an agonizing 15 miles back uphill. Near the end I was off my bike walking with tears streaming down my face with each step! What a “memorable” anniversary!!! Kayaking is very fun as well! Thanks again for the post!

  3. What a great day you had! Thanks for all the wonderful pictures you took to share with all of us….it was all just lovely. I was amazed to read that your photos had been taken from your iPhone. I was looking at the photos and wishing I could do so well with my new DSLR!!

  4. I would love to do something like this. Are you sore today ? Most of us are so sedentary an outing like that would do us in. Good for you !
    Beautiful country down there and I like the no hills !