July 4th was pretty lousy around here. It rained until late afternoon and was very grey after that but I guess it was good enough to get off the fireworks because we heard a lot of booms. We just went into town to stock up on groceries.
Today we biked up the Lehigh Gorge on another old rail line that has been turned into a trail. Top to bottom the trail is 26 miles long. We started at the bottom and figured we would bike uphill first as long as we felt good and then coast back home.
We ended up going a bit farther than we should have. Altogether we went 32 miles or just over 50 km. The grade on the trail was so gentle that, going out, it didn’t tire us out very much. Over the 16 miles one way that we did, we only went up 500 feet in elevation. Unfortunately, the grade was so gentle that on the way back it wasn’t really much help and there was no coasting. Since this was our first long, for us, ride in a year, those last few kilometers were pretty tough on our behinds.
This rail trail is actually beside a working rail line.
There is a scenic rail trip that you can take up the gorge. The train went by just as we got back to the car.
We actually didn’t think the gorge itself was that scenic. It was not that tall or steep and it was covered in trees so there were no interesting rocky outcrops.
A short way into the trail we saw two guys stopped at the side. They motioned us to stop as well. We saw our first rattlesnake. It was pretty big, at about 4 feet long.
The railway was right beside us for about the first 10 km.
Or above us.
There were some really long straight sections here, which were kind of discouraging on the way back.
Eventually the tracks went across a bridge to the other side.
On the drive here was had passed a whitewater rafting company with a huge parking lot that was almost full. Later in the the day we saw a lot of people on the river. With that heavy rain a few days ago the river was really blasting along.
For most of the time the river was partially obscured by a wall of tree but there were a few viewpoints.
Ready to move on.
At another spot there was a short, steep trail down to the river edge. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go down because our bike shoes have a protruding metal clips that latches to our pedals. It makes the shoes very slippery.
Jennie stayed up on the trail.
In hindsight it was pretty dumb to try and go across these rocks. They were slippery and loose and my shoes are by no means waterproof. It would have been no fun biking with wet feet.
There was a interesting stone bridge for the railway, over a creek or run that entered from the other side.
The view downstream.
Across the way there were two guys sitting an a rock with cameras. I wondered if they worked for the rafting company.
I have no idea how they got over there.
In the morning the trail was not that busy. After lunch was another matter.
During one long section the side of the hill was just covered in blooming rhododendrons, as far upwards as we could see. The picture is blurry because I took it while we were moving but you get the idea.
There were several small waterfalls. We stopped at them all.
We have no idea what this turreted tower was for.
The Rockport entrance is at about the halfway point of the trail. Some of the rafting trips start here and others end here.
All under the watchful eyes of the guys from the rafting company in the kayaks.
An option for bikers willing to pay, was to drop your car off at the bottom and then take a bus either here or all the way up and have only a (slightly) downhill ride.
There was a nice spot by a cascading stream here so we had lunch.
By this time we had gone about 20 km. We should have turned around but we felt so good we went on for another 5 before stopping at Lock 22.
Before the railway there had been long series of locks to get the coal down the river. Most were destroyed by the river but this one sort of remains.
From the top.
There was also a small viewpoint onto the river. Normally you could get closer but the water was so high I only got a tunnel view.
Across the way is the bridge over Mud Run, which we saw on our hike to Hawk Falls the other day.
Heading back we stopped at these falls, that had been very crowded when we went by before.
And eventually back to the car.
We were pretty wiped out. Back at the RV it was definitely nap time.