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Remember: Beyond the Parkway: Trails

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beyond the Parkway: Trails

The journey became surprising once I passed under the 15th street bridge.

To me, this area is unsurpassed in wildness and freed nature. No paved trail here just meadow alongside the Little Lehigh Creek. I expected only to find this.

Walking past the bridge, the trees started to look familiar. I began to consider the oddness of such an open trail here on the banks of the creek where it seemed nothing was.

The trees around me were all the same height. I knew that if it weren’t for the snow, I would see railroad tracks where I was standing. Farther on, the track became exposed.

I made my way along the ancient tracks and ended up behind an old factory.

I came upon a warped, broken staircase and made my way down towards waters edge.

To my left, I could see the familiar walls of Fountain Park, here marked with vivid graffiti.

Perhaps the oddest moment of discovery occurred at the bottom of the sorry staircase. Here, a perfectly normal picnic table sat next to an entirely abnormal young evergreen adorned with Christmas ornaments.

I am sure the tracks would continue all the way to the Lehigh River. I could not travel much further due to vegetation.

What a journey this simple walk had slowly become. I had wandered into the graveyard of the manufacturing heart of Allentown down the rusted spine of the long passed railroad. Had this been summer, this journey would have been impossible. I would not have smelled the rust of what had been, I would not have seen a thing.

This railroad should be a trail. My journey should be easily shared by others. I walked from the Parkway to Fountain Park by the hand of winter. The “rail to trail” program has been done successfully all over the country and if the upcoming trail development has true merit, this is the sort of trail that should be created. Nothing paved here, just a cared for path through the old rust and young wilderness that should be maintained by volunteers.

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Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, not to be contrary, but you traveled from lehigh parkway to fountain park along the old spur route without a "trail" or "rail to trail" program. that spur supplied mack truck, union carbine gas at scribers bridge, and a few dozen more industries. enjoy the route, but all that history and infrastructure doesn't have to be torn out. maybe someday a recreational trolley could take kids from fountain park to the new riverfront park, which is where the spur goes.

January 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Fair enough Micheal, but I don't think a trolley is ever going to happen. Trails are, and to not use this route would be senseless on the part of the developers.

January 8, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous LV said...

The draft of the Trails Study suggests paving the Lehigh Canal tow path to Bethlehem. Yes, I know, unbelievable. But you can look it up. One can walk, or bike, all the way to the forks of the Delaware at Easton, pick up the Delaware Canal tow path, and walk or bike south, through Bucks County, all the way to Washington's Crossing and beyond. All of it beautiful, all of it bikeable, NONE OF IT PAVED WITH ASPHALT. This part of the Trails Study shows a complete disconnect with the region and it's people. The details mean everything in this planning. I'm left feeling very uneasy.

January 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


None of it should be paved with asphalt, that's ridiculous. I am hoping to hear otherwise on the 13th, or they certainly will.

January 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, your walk south of the 15th St. bridge was a little adventure precisely because it was a little wild, off the beaten path. You commented that that less acccessable section had "unsurpassed wildness and freed nature". I agree, and all that is lost if a bigger, groomed trail, paved or not, is cut through that bit of uncultivated, wild, out of the way section of Allentown. It ruins what you found so great. Can't we have some mystery left? Where will the next generation of hobos go?

January 8, 2010 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


I must respectfully disagree, both wildness and the sense of "being off the beaten path" can both be maintained with the presence of an intentional trail. Locally the Ironton Rail Trail shows it but more importantly and impressively the Appalachian Trail proves it.

January 8, 2010 at 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog, great discussion. I did not believe the part about the asphalt paved trails, sorry, so I did fish around for the draft trails plan. Sure enough, the report seems to back asphalt and also concrete hard trails. "Paved asphalt, concrete or permeable paving is recommended." The consultants go on to say why, "ease of maintenance" , and cost. They say this several times. The report also has a bunch of photographs of happy campers strolling along on paved paths. Sure doesn't look natural or green to this observer. It looks very urban. I hate what the asphalt paths did around the Rose Garden area. I am very troubled by this. Keep the little roads out of the parks, please. Bad news! Andrew you weren't fooling when you used the word "developers" in your 2:40 PM post, were you?

January 8, 2010 at 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Bethann said...

What a cool thing, that little Christmas tree back there! Andrew, the Ironton rail trail is semi rural, the A.T. is still mostly very rural, thank God. I'm surprised at you Andrew. That cool forgotten trail you walked down is cool because it is forgotten, in a hard pressed, blue collar city of 100,000. Why "develop" the last of the hidden, forgotten places. I got to agree annon 4:22 on this issue. Call me a romantic, but I say save the last of the hidden spaces. Save the parks, save the streams, save at least a few of the hidden places!!!!!!! And no paved trails in the parks, please!

January 8, 2010 at 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if the Appalachian Trail ran near a city with more than it's share of,litter,drugs,crime,gangs and general social disorder in it's downtown. Would you want to have a paved trail directly linking the A.T. to that downtown? I live in a downtown neighborhood like that. I live in center city Allentown.

January 8, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

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