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Five Cool Places to Ride Your Bike

Too hot to walk? Not interested in running? Bicycling brings a breeze and, in the right places, physical challenges.

by Carrie Havranek; photo by Jay de Jesus

We’re lucky, here in the Lehigh Valley. We’ve got a whole host of trails and an avid biking culture, from South Mountain Cycles in Emmaus to Genesis Bicycles in Easton (and its famous ice cream rides) and scores of other cycle shops. And of course there’s the Velodrome.

This week we consulted with Mike Prentice, who’s part of the Valley Mountain Bikers, to offer some suggestions for places to take your wheels for a spin. The organization is dedicated to advancing the sport and creating a community of like-minded riders. In addition to regular rides together, the members dedicate themselves to maintaining trails and making new ones for everyone to enjoy.

1. Delaware Canal Towpath: A fairly flat trail that is a combination of paved, cinder, and hard-packed dirt surfaces, the towpath was originally used by teams of mules to pull barges along the canal in the early 1800s. Start it in Easton and follow for some or all of its sixty miles all the way to Bristol if you like.

2. Jacobsburg State Park: The eighteen miles of trails here are popular with bikers, hikers, and equestrians, so read the signage carefully–some trails are closed to bikes. Jacobsburg, in Belfast, is a great place to build your skills–it has a little bit of everything– before you move onto some of the more challenging terrain. The park has a series of loops, so you can make it as long or as short of a ride as you want.

3. Jordan Creek Parkway: The rolling terrain on this city ride through Whitehall near the Allentown border is great if you’re pressed for time. Pick up the pace if you’re an intermediate biker; ride the loop as much as you like if you’re a beginner.

4. South Mountain Wildlands Conservancy: These trails are located on the property of the conservancy in Emmaus, but are also adjacent to private property. It’s not well-marked, so the club advises going with locals or visiting South Mountain Cycles in Emmaus for information. Yeah, we’re into advanced territory here. There’s a vertical change of 500 feet. There are lots of rocky parts. You may need to fix a tire.

5. Trexler Nature Preserve: You may know this as Trexler Game Preserve; it’s the same place, in Schnecksville. Currently, the club is working to improve these trails. Come on August 8 to lend a hand. Or, as the club’s web site promises, “The terrain is sweet, the views are beautiful and the vibe of the trails here will be very different from everything else in the Valley.” If that’s not enough to entice you…..

For more suggestions, visit the club’s trail finder, with difficulty ratings, PDF maps of the trails, and more.

Check out the features in laini’s little pocket guides to read more about bicycling experiences in Bethlehem and Easton.

Carrie Havranek is a writer in Easton who is ashamed to admit that her Trek hybrid bike, Eleanor, is dusty and needs a tune-up.


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