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Remember: Beyond Berg: Top 5 Allentown Parks to visit

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beyond Berg: Top 5 Allentown Parks to visit

Today is moving in day at Muhlenberg College and in honor of all the students returning to Allentown in pursuit of higher education I offer a top five list of Allentown Park destinations to check out during the fall semester. As a life long “townie” and now as a Muhlenberg College student myself, I will tell you that with the expense of a little gas or spent footsteps, these locations will provide a respite for any student or anyone. Take a chance, take a walk. There is a world out there constantly begging to be discovered and rediscovered.

1. The Lehigh Parkway

The experiences that are possible at the Parkway are limitless. It is a place for joggers, disc golfers, hikers, naturalists and fly fishers alike. There are many places inside the parkway that are worth checking out. There is a fish hatchery, a bait shop, a museum of Native American culture and scattered throughout the park are old limekilns; ghosts of a proposed railway that went up in the bust in the 1850’s.

I recommend four individual hikes, although they can be combined or done all at the same time.

1. Hike One
Park in the lot that is down from the main entrance and across the little open grate bridge; the parking lot is easy to notice just behind the large stone walls that frame the entranceway. Head towards the paved path that leads into the more heavily wooded area. A few feet into this path head up the trail into the forest itself. It is a short but moderate trail hike that provides great views and excellent opportunities to encounter wildlife. The trail will end back on the main paved trail, which after crossing Scrieber’s bridge, will lead you back to the parking lot. Look out for the lime kilns along this path.

2. Hike Two
Starting in the same parking lot, head across the bridge and onto the creekside path. Follow on that path and cross the pedestrian bridge. Turn back and follow the path on the other side of the creek back to the parking lot. This hike offers the best views of the Little Lehigh Creek.

3. Hike Three
This time start at Bogart’s Bridge. (it is the red covered bridge off of 24th street) Head along the paved trail to the right of the bridge. This path offers great woodland experiences and is part of a planet walk that simulates the distances of the planets in our solar system. Once you reach the pedestrian bridge, cross, turn left and the path will eventually take you through Bogart’s Bridge and back to the parking lot. You can see the Allentown Police Academy on this hike.

4. Hike Four
This may be the longest hike of the four. Start at Bogart’s Bridge and follow the trail to the left. You will pass underneath the vaulted ceiling of the route 78 bridge. Keep walking past the Little Lehigh Fly Shop and you will reach the Fish Hatchery which is worth a visit on it’s on. Follow the same trail back, cross the bridge and you will again reach Bogart’s Bridge. Cross it and you will be back in the Parking Lot.

View From Muhlenberg to the Parkway in a larger map
2. Trexler park

A few blocks from campus lies Trexler Park. At one time, this was the estate of General Trexler himself. Upon his death it was dedicated to him and little about the park has changed since that time. It is a short walk from Muhlenberg, and a very short drive.

The Hike:
Start at the main entrance, which is just down the road from Wegmans. Take the paved path to the left alongside the lagoon. You can spot an egret or two here if you are lucky. As you make your way around the path you will encounter the actual Springhouse that was on Trexler’s estate. If you cross the bridge here you can walk alongside the Little Cedar Creek and eventually you will begin to walk a steep hill that will lead you to the memorial statue of the General and of an incredible vista of Trexler Park and points south. Follow the paved trail to the left and pass through a large Riparian Buffer zone. Be attentive, there are many species of birds easily visible here. The path will return you to the main entrance at the parking lot.

View Muhlenberg to Trexler Park in a larger map
3. Cedar Beach Parkway

CBP is the closest park to Muhlenberg College and I am sure many students, past and present have used its green space for respite. There is a Rose Garden and an Old Fashioned Garden just past Ott Street that are worth a visit to. Make sure to take a stroll around Muhlenberg Lake. There are basketball courts and volleyball pits here as well. This is a great place to take a book to read or bring notes to study.

The Walk:
Behind the parks and recreation office there is a 1.3 mile trail that is often used by walkers and joggers. It includes a complete system of workout devices that challenge the body. It is a quicker walk, but one that is worth taking and it sure can serve as a workout.

View Muhlenberg to Cedar Beach Parkway in a larger map

4. South Mountain Reservoir

On the South Side of Allentown there is a park that is more to the appearance of a nature preserve. There are two large lakes here that you can fish in. There is a great amount of wildlife to witness and it is a great place for tree identification.

The mountainside is littered with trails. They range from average to an easy hard. Wear your hiking boots here though, sneakers and sandals are certainly not going to cut it. Take notice to the stone circles that at one time served as lookouts over the city of Allentown. If you keep an eye out you may see some gneiss rock. Be careful, some of the trails aren’t marked very well but a trip up on the mountain is at all time gorgeous and if you are looking for a quick escape from campus that is a little far away, South Mountain is the place to go.

View Muhlenberg to South Mountain Reservoir in a larger map

5. West Park

This is the first park that was built in the city of Allentown. Both the bandshell and arboretum of trees that were installed there 101 years ago are still there. West Park is a beautiful and timeless place situated in a very urban area. There isn’t much to call a hiking trail here but there are paved paths throughout that allow you to see and identify the different tree types, the war memorials, the classic ornate fountain and the white bandstand.I recommend grabbing lunch from someplace nearby like Kow Thai and eating it here. The ambience of the park will have you coming back for seconds. It’s a great place for a date.

View Muhlenberg to West Park in a larger map

So, fellow Muhlenberg students, this townie turned Muhlenberg Man has laid out for you five great opportunities to burst that famous bubble and steep yourself in the deep, varied, and wonderful park experiences that are easily accessed from campus. This blog has documented almost all of Allentown’s city parks as well as many nature preserves across the Lehigh Valley and some parks in neighboring cities and townships. Check them out too; perhaps you would like to make your own journey.

Welcome or Welcome Back to Allentown.

See Also:
Lehigh Valley In Site

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Blogger LVCI said...

South Mountain Reservoir- " the stone circles that at one time served as lookouts"...

Each of those were actually roof topped WPA built Pavilions.

The (once roofed) pavilion overlooking the "two lakes" at one time had a WPA built a water fountain, stone chimney grills and tables for picnics.

The paths that once led to it:
*Heading West the path once came out at the 28th street Water tank

*Heading East you would pass Waldheim Park ending up at 'Big Rock' on East Rock Road near WFMZ

Yet another example of Allentown letting another park go to pot!

August 28, 2009 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

LVCI, I had no idea any of that existed and I don't think any of it did exist in my lifetime.

That said, you can't discount what the city has to offer regardless of things like that. There is alot of beauty to be discovered and explored here, and it should be, by many people.

August 28, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

there actually was one change at trexler park. mrs. trexler's beloved greenhouse (tropical) was torn down. this is significant, because the same will which established the trexler trust to fund the parks, mandated that the greenhouse be maintained. the city prevailed on the trust and court to change the will, allowing it's destruction. there are those of us who feel today,likewise, the principles of the will are being compromised by the current trustee's and administration.

August 29, 2009 at 7:22 AM  

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