History Along the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network

Many notable historic features of national and state significance found along the planned route of the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network (PHTN) illustrate how humans have settled this rich region over the past 12,000 years.

Pennsylvania Highlands history revolves around the four major rivers in the region: The Delaware River and its two largest tributaries: the Lehigh and Schuylkill Rivers; and the Susquehanna River.

The Delaware: A Wild and Scenic River

The easternmost portion of the trail begins at the Delaware River – a designated National Wild and Scenic River– in Riegelsville Borough, which is a listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The PHTN follows the D&L Trail, a National Heritage Corridor, through Delaware Canal State Park – a National Landmark. Following the trail north from Riegelsville leads to the historic cities of Easton and Bethlehem where the D&L Trail is adjacent to the Lehigh River and Canal. Both cities feature numerous noteworthy historic structures and sites. In particular, the Central Bethlehem National Historic District is historically significant for its Moravian cultural heritage and the south side of Bethlehem was the site of iron and steel making operations that were the heart of the American Industrial Revolution.

The D&L Trail: A National Heritage Corridor

The historic feature that shines in this part of the Pennsylvania Highlands is the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The D&L Trail follows the towpath of the Delaware Canal and the Lehigh Canal for most of its 165 mile length. The importance of this and other early canal systems is beautifully interpreted at the National Canal Museum, which is located in Hugh Moore Park in the City of Easton.

PHTN Connections to Other National Historic Sites

The Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network (PHTN) is envisioned to travel through the historic towns and woods of Bucks and Montgomery Counties to reach the Perkiomen Trail, which passes by Mill Grove, the former home of John James Audubon. As it crosses the Schuylkill River near Valley Forge, the trail then follows the river upstream for 25 miles on the Schuylkill River Trail before climbing out of the valley to the Hopewell Big Woods region near the boundary of Berks and Chester Counties. The proposed trail route connects with the Horse-Shoe Trail near Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, which showcases an early American Iron Plantation. Continuing with an iron theme that expands across the entire 13-county region, the PHTN is envisioned to co-align with the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, which passes near Cornwall Iron Furnace National Historic District. The PHTN passes through the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area with its numerous historic towns along the big river and co-aligns the Mason Dixon Trail at Wrightsville. Further south the PHTN runs through the South Mountain Conservation Landscape, passing through Pine Grove Furnace State Park, site of yet another historic iron making community. 

News

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Highlands funding doubled in 2019 spending bill

Signed by the President on February 15th, the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Omnibus Appropriations package has allocated $20 million for the Highlands Conservation Act, a 100% increase from Fiscal Year 2018 levels.  Read More

PHTN 2018 Accomplishments

2018 was another busy year for AMC staff, the PHTN Steering Committee and the volunteer Highlands Trail Stewards.  Read on for last year’s accomplishments. Read More

Highlight the Highlands: Winter Events and Things to Do

The winter holidays are a time of joy, fun, family, and friends. However, it can also be a time of heavy eating, staying inside, and falling behind on routines. Are you looking for a way to enjoy the Pennsylvania Highlands over your winter break? Read More

PA Highlands Coalition hosts return on environment studies webinar

On December 10th, the PA Highlands Coalition held a webinar on the emerging research in return on environment studies. This webinar focused on the ways the benefits of nature and open space can be quantified to influence local planning and policy decisions. This research has been conducted in multiple counties throughout the PA Highlands by our partners. Read More