Each month, Get Your Tail on the Trail’s Northeast Pennsylvania chapter will share a Trail of the Month to explore. Log your miles at the location “D&L Trail: Wilkes-Barre—White Haven” from December 1st through December 31st to enter the $50 REI gift card giveaway for December 2021.
Every mile you log at locations along the D&L Trail brings you one step closer to earning the D&L Trail 100% Journey Badge. Be among the first 50 Get Your Tail on the Trail participants to earn the D&L Trail 100% Journey Badge to enter our D&L Official Trail Guide giveaway.
Keep up your fitness momentum over the holidays and earn our two newest Get Your Tail on the Trail badges: 25 Miles to Christmas and Luzerne County Trails. Share your photos on social media with #GetYourTailOnTheTrail and stay tuned for our Winter Mini-Challenge, kicking off February 1st.
Explore the Northern Reaches of the 165-Mile D&L Trail
The D&L Trail is the spine of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (DLNHC), which preserves, interprets and leverages the nationally significant history of the 165-mile transportation route between Wilkes-Barre and Bristol, Pennsylvania. Traversing five counties across Northeast Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Region, the Lehigh Valley and Delaware Canal State Park, this multi-use trail is popular among hikers, cyclists and anglers of all ages and abilities.
This month, we’re highlighting the section of the D&L Trail in Luzerne County, from the Black Diamond Trailhead to the Middleburg Road Pedestrian Crossing, as well as two D&L Trail Towns—White Haven and Wilkes-Barre. Remember, when you get your tail on the trail during hunting season, wear orange due to the proximity of State Game Lands adjacent to the trail.
The Black Diamond Trailhead represents the end of continuous trail in Luzerne County. “Black Diamond” is a nickname for anthracite coal, mined in Northeastern Pennsylvania and transported along the corridor via railroads and canals. This heavily wooded section of the D&L Trail boasts numerous ponds and bogs, making it great for wildlife habitat observation and photography.
Visible from the D&L Trail is Moosehead Lake. Now a ghost town, it was once home to Pennsylvania politician and U.S. Attorney General A. Richard Palmer. To navigate off the rail trail and explore the marshlands and wildlife, check out this DLNHC blog post.
Further south, cross over the “Recycled Bridge,” installed in 2008. Made from materials recycled from I-81 in the Wyoming Valley, the bridge spans the active tracks of the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad at a bend with a vista of the forest and historic stone retaining walls. When you reach the newly completed Middleburg Pedestrian Crossing, turn around to head back to Black Diamond Trailhead for an approximately 18-mile round trip.
When planning your D&L Trail adventure, first visit the interactive trail map online, which is updated daily to alert trailgoers of closures, hazards and conditions. Gaps along the D&L Trail exist in all counties except Carbon, as DLNHC continues to work with landowners and community partners to develop and improve the trail. Presently, the segments of trail between the Middleburg Road Pedestrian Crossing to White Haven North Trailhead and White Haven South Trailhead to Tannery Road are closed to the public through May 2022. This is because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is enhancing the D&L Trail in Lehigh Gorge State Park.
While segments of “orphaned” trail exist north of Black Diamond Trailhead, conditions are dangerous, and crossings are illegal. DLNHC does not promote public use until they are connected in the future. Eventually, the D&L Trail will continue north from Black Diamond Trailhead, connect to Seven Tubs Recreation Area in Pinchot State Forest and route around Wilkes-Barre Mountain and into downtown Wilkes-Barre, culminating at the northern terminus in Wilkes-Barre’s River Common. DLNHC collaborates closely with DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Anthracite Scenic Trails Association (ASTA) and North Brand Land Trust (NLBT) to improve and build trail along gaps in Luzerne County.
While construction and gaps will prevent you from hiking or biking into Luzerne County’s D&L Trail Towns for now, you can still plan excursions to White Haven and Wilkes-Barre to bookend your day on the trail. In White Haven Borough, the D&L Trail’s alignment follows Main Street with its various shops and eateries, including the D&L Trail Friendly Businesses like Pocono Biking and The Victorian Connection. Throughout December, the businesses of the Greater White Haven Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC) will be decked out for their annual Festival of Trees. GWHCC and the borough recently partnered with DLNHC to beautify the area surrounding the antique caboose in the center of town with picnic tables, bike racks and planters.
Until the D&L Trail is complete, downtown Wilkes-Barre is a short drive from the Black Diamond Trailhead. Explore the city’s architectural gems via the self-guided Wilkes-Barre Walkitecture tour and enjoy eclectic cuisines with holiday dining deals through December 12th.
Established in 1988 by U.S. Congress, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is one of 55 National Heritage Areas in the nation. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the organization’s mission emphasizes industrial heritage education and preservation, health and wellness through outdoor recreation via Get Your Tail on the Trail (which they founded with St. Luke’s University Health Network), economic development of towns and cities along the D&L Trail and nature and environment via conservation efforts.
After merging with the National Canal Museum (NCM), DLNHC formed a staff of 13 full-time employees and several seasonal and part-time workers, serving under a volunteer board. DLNHC also has two equine team members—the working mules Hank and George, who pull visitors on canal boat rides along the towpath in the spring, summer and fall at DLNHC’s headquarters in Easton, PA. Visit during NCM’s operating hours (which change seasonally, so check online prior to arrival). You can also attend an event along the trail, such as pop-up snowshoeing and historical tours.
DLNHC volunteers are critical to NCM operations, trail restoration efforts and the D&L Heritage Half Marathon—the nonprofit’s signature fundraising event. To get involved, sign up online, email [email protected] or call 610.923.3548. To support DLNHC’s efforts to close the gaps along the D&L Trail and continue to rebuild after damage from Tropical Storm Ida, you can donate online or via phone at 610.923.3548 x238.
For more in-depth trail information and history, you can purchase the Official D&L Trail Guide. The guide is also available digitally as a PDF file so you can save it on your device or print a few pages to take with you. If you’re a tech-savvy trailgoer, download the D&L Discoverer mobile app for your Apple or Android device.
Counties: Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks
Length: 165 miles (plus spurs and connecting trails) when complete
Surface: Aggregate crushed stone along open, improved sections in Luzerne County; concrete sidewalks on Main Street in White Haven and at the northern terminus at Wilkes-Barre’s River Common
Accessibility: Beginner hikers and cyclists love the D&L Trail from Black Diamond Trailhead to the Middleburg Road Pedestrian Crossing. Persons with wheelchairs enjoy exploring the architecture and industrial marvels along the concrete sidewalks of Luzerne County’s D&L Trail Towns of White Haven and Wilkes-Barre.
Regional trail connections: The Circuit Trails, THE LINK Trails, Appalachian Trail, Lehigh River Water Trail, Luzerne County Levee Trail, Wilkes-Barre Walkitecture