Biking on the Lehigh River Gorge Trail

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. Jim Thorpe is a little over an hour from me, my parents took us there when we were kids, great memories.

    So, since you kinda live close, come by my house and do some decorating for me? I’ll make cookies…. j/k, you’ve already done enough for me already with all your great ideas. :)

  2. My daughter is a senior at Lehigh Univ, founded by Asa Packer, who gifted the mansion to his son, Harry, as a wedding gift. (Nice gift! :) Coincidentally, my daughter is currently doing a 7 month engineering internship w Disney and did not know that bit of trivia. She is proudly sharing it with her coworkers and thinks it’s a “COOL” fact. Thx for documenting your trek…

    I’m also guilty of not enjoying the local offerings, but hubby and I did drive to Baltimore (2 hrs) on Sunday and took in a Phils game at Camden Yards on the Inner Harbor. Easy trip, beautiful stadium, gorgeous day… But they lost :(

  3. Oh Diane…what a fabulous way to spend the day!!! What beautiful scenery!!! Thanks for taking us with you on this fun day! :)

    xoxo laurie

  4. Thanks for sharing your trip–it was a very interesting read! Like others who commented before me, I’m not only impressed with your ability to take photos while in motion but also your ability to bike 50 miles in a day! I’ve been trying to build up endurance to bike more, and have yet to do 20 miles in a row!

  5. What beautiful scenery! Even in such enjoyable surroundings, I couldn’t ride 50 mi. anymore if my life depended on it! What a great hobby to share with your husband.

  6. Nan @ Playful Decor says:

    That looked fantastic! You picked a perfect day – the photos are gorgeous! A great reminder to get away from the computer!

  7. Ashlyn@Pinecone says:

    These pictures are absolutely beautiful! I sooooo want to check this out at some point while we are on the east coast. I need to tell my PA friend about it too.
    What a nice day for you and your husband to have some time to yourselves (6hrs of biking – you are amazing!!)
    Thanks for sharing this – I loved hearing all about it : ) xo Ashlyn

  8. Meghan Grace says:

    Wow, what beautiful scenery! I don’t think that I would ever be able to do a trip that long (never say never, huh?) but I sure would enjoy seeing those sights! Thank you for sharing! Meghan

  9. melinda ke says:

    Wow, it looks beautiful there! Hopefully I can make it out there sometime…not sure if I could make it through the entire bike trail though! Ha! :)

  10. Christianne says:

    What an inspiration you are, Diane! But in all honesty, if I tried to ride a bike 50 miles I’m afraid you’d be scraping me off the pavement about 40 miles back as at that point I’d be a pool of whiny sweat! lol. Beautiful pictures!

  11. Erin@TheSavvySeeker says:

    What a great post! My folks live near Philly…so this would be a wonderful weekend adventure for the family! So much to do! Love the photos!

  12. The scenery was gorgous. That picture you posted from google of the town was really cool. Oh and the water looked so inviting. I doubt I would have made the 25 miles let alone the return 25. I’m totally out of shape. Now that my daughter has finished her schooling at least the part that requires our support I hope to take a trip or two towards PA, NY, surrounding areas.

  13. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful trip. The pics are just beautiful. Many years ago I was big into bike riding, but haven’t been on a bike in probably 20 years. I’d probably have to do the trails on foot instead.
    Glad you got to make the trip.

  14. Designed Decor says:

    Sounds like a great time. My husband and I love to do trips like this, we will have to put it on our list. Great pictures too!

  15. Laura Moran says:

    You and your husband must live close to us, I think we’re about the same distance from Jim Thorpe in the same direction as well! Thanks for sharing these fantastic pictures, many have suggested to go there for bike trails and now that I’ve seen the beautiful views we may just have to!

  16. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I am shocked to hear that you are so adept as to ride and take pictures at the same time. I am glad you did not crash. The pictures are wonderful.

    Looks like an amazing day. I am also going to ask if you are sore from your long ride? I am glad you two had fun….. what did you pack for your lunch?

    I wonder if I can still ride a bike. Last time I tried I fell off of it and never did feel that the bike ‘fit’ me, so I gave it away when I moved into this house.

  17. Beautiful, Diane! So impressed with your biking ability- what a ride!

  18. It’s always nice to discover places that are close with the hubby. Great pictures! Looks like you had a wonderful weekend.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. suzysomething says:

    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!!

  22. 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 !

  23. Looks like it was a gret ride . . . Photographs were wonderful.