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

Click here to see all news

AMC Partners for New Signage on the Schuylkill River Trail

AMC partnered with the Schuylkill River Greenways National Historic Area and Union Township to produce an interpretive sign along the Schuylkill River Trail.  Read More

AMC Presents Trail Concept Plan to PHTN Steering Committee

On Monday, March 26th, AMC and its consultant, Campbell Thomas & Company, presented a conceptual trail plan for the Musser Scout Reservation, located in the Unami Forest of Montgomery County. Read More

Highlands Conservation Act Reauthorized in FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill

A major victory for land conservation in the four-state Highlands region was won late last week when the President signed the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Omnibus spending bill, which included both funding and reauthorization for the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) through 2021. Read More

Richland Township Updates Open Space and Trails Map

Recently, Richland Township, Bucks County updated their Open Space and Trails Map to show the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network along with other park and trail resources. Read More