The Delaware Canal was built in the middle of the 19th century as a way to move coal from the mines of Pennsylvania to the industrial areas of Philadelphia and around. The canal starts in Easton, PA and goes all the way to Bristol, PA for a total of 60 miles. The canals were built on both sides of the Delaware River and the coal was hauled with mules that were trotting an adjacent road pulling barges on the water. It stopped its operation in 1931.
Besides this 60 miles portion, on its Southern side it connects to another canal that goes along the Raritan River in New Jersey ending in the Rutgers University campus in New Bruswick, NJ. Further north of Easton, PA it continues on the Lehigh River valley to Jim Thorpe going all the way to Wiles Barre, PA, the heart of the Pennsylvania coal country. The side roads of all these portions of the canal were converted in a very long and continuous bike trail.
We biked two portions of the canal, biking up one way and returning on the opposite side of the river that has a similar canal with its adjacent bike path. First we biked from Lambertville, NJ to Trenton returning on the opposite side to New Hope, PA.
We loved that route so much that one week after we came again and biked the portion between Lambertville, NJ to Frenchtown, NJ crossing the river through Bull’s island.
This year we planned to bike the portion from Frenchtown, NJ all the way to Easton, PA. This part of the trail does not fully continues on both side of the river. A portion that is developed on the New Jersey side in the Delaware Canal State Park is actually ending bringing you onto the roads. So we biked on only one side of the canal round trip on a path that varies in width much more than the previous ones we went on. The path starts as a large packed dirt but on occasion continues only as a sliver of gravel path sometimes narrower than one foot or occasionally on two narrow slivers. Some portions have some mud on top and may not not so good to bike after rain. However it is well maintained and very pleasant to ride through fields full of sunflower, onion or corn, farms decorated with pumpkins for the season or through towns where you can stop for a beer or you can take a break on coffee places right on the bike path.
The route has about 21 miles one way as you leave Frenchtown crossing the Delaware bridge and going under the covered bridge in Uhlerstown and reaches Easton in the Delaware Canal State Park right at the confluence of Delaware and Lehigh rivers overlooking the old and new bridges of the old industrial town of Easton. From the park, the bike trail continues into the D & L bike trail along Lehigh River that goes continuously all the way through Jim Thorpe to White Haven, another 85 miles of continuous trail. We took a well deserved break watching kayaks go by on the Delaware River in Easton and started back for a total of 42 miles being able to return in Frenchtown right before dark.