At nearly 59-miles, the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath has something for everyone. It provides visitors a scenic location to experience the big beautiful outdoors through activities, wildlife and learning. That’s why it has been named the Pennsylvania 2022 Trail of the Year.
Completed in the early 1830s, the Delaware Canal ran for a century bringing barges from Easton to Bristol. The canal provided a convenient and economical means of transporting coal throughout the eastern seaboard. The last paying canal barge ended its journey in 1931.
A walk along the 58.89-mile-long towpath is a stroll into American history. Its historical significance was celebrated as it became a registered National Historic Landmark and its towpath is a National Recreation Trail.
Today, it stands as a reminder of a time gone by and as an example of how we can reclaim old infrastructure for current times. In addition to the canal, the state park includes a 50-acre pond, miles of river shoreline and 11 river islands. The towpath meanders along the river through charming, historic towns with ever-changing scenery.
I was fortunate enough to visit the towpath while I was completing my 121 in 21 Challenge – which included running one mile at all 121 state parks in one year. While it was my 52nd park of the year and my second park of the day, it made an indelible impression.
My friend Adam Bricker and I left the parking area near Gen. George Washington’s historic Delaware River crossing. We jogged along the crushed stone trail that was once used by mule teams to pull boats along the canal. In only a short span of time, we saw such beautiful wildlife.
First, we came upon a family of six turtles sunbathing on a log. As someone who has just recently discovered his love for the outdoors, the sight was spectacular. Actual turtles. Right there!
Then, as if not to be outdone, a giant-winged heron took off. Soaring above the morning fog, it flapped its wings and was gone in a matter of seconds. We stopped running. Taking in the majestic bird. It was such a beautiful moment, one that I won’t forget.
While I can’t promise animal encounters, I can promise you this: you will not be disappointed with the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath. It has so much to offer with ample opportunities to experience everything Pennsylvania has to offer.
Of the parks I plan to visit again, the Delaware Canal State Park is at the top of my list. While portions of the towpath are closed due to improvements and renovations (as of March 18, 2022), I plan to do a long hike of it in the future. Maybe a long weekend exploring everything it has to offer, from bike rides and picnics to fishing and boating. I hope to see you out there.
Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks in 2021 and has been sharing with us stories and tips from his journey! To read more blog posts from Christian and other PPFF guest bloggers, visit our News page.
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