Slate Heritage Trail

The Slate Heritage Trail is a nice, short spur on the D&L Trail in Slatington, PA.  It is a rail to trails project along the old Lehigh Valley Railroad, Slatedale Branch. The trail parallels Trout Creek and runs 3.3 miles. There is a covered bridge about half way up the trail. The picturesque spot seems a favorite for locals taking pictures for special occasions such as proms, weddings and so forth.

For more information on this trail consult the Northern Lehigh Historical Society.

The Slate Heritage Trail is part of The Link system of trails.

For a video of one of my recent rides see Mark's Bike Tock on YouTube.

Here is an elevation profile. The left is the intersection with the D&L Trail at the Lehigh River in Slatington.

Slate Heritage Trail

Dunmore Reservoir #1 Nature Trail

I might have titled this “Some Trails are Better than Others” or “Some Adventures are Fun, Some Not So Much.” It all started with an intention of touring the Gertrude Hawk Candy factory. This is an open house they do once per year and they give samples and sell seconds. I knew this would be well attended but it was more like a zoo. It was much too crowded for my taste and patience. Not only that but I gave up chocolate almost a year ago and just wanted to see the machinery. I know, I am a geek. After the tour I planned on a ride.

On the way to the factory I saw a nature trail I was not familiar with. Since I have already ridden every trail I was aware of in the area, I had to investigate. The weather was nice and with the skipped tour I had plenty of time. The trail is called the Dunmore Reservoir #1 Nature Trail. It was a small reservoir and the hand painted sign did not hold much promise. I was here however. The same water company has a very nice walking trail around Lake Scranton, sadly no bikes. I found a woman walking a dog and asked if bikes were allowed. She said yes; good enough for me. There were signs about walking and no motor vehicles but no mention of bikes.

I grabbed my bike and started riding. The first couple of hundred yards had a surface of soft mulch. I shifted into lower gear and proceeded. The trail then turned to a more natural surface complete with plenty of roots and rocks. About half way around the trail crossed the small stream feeding the reservoir. There was no bridge, just stepping stones. The creek bed was much too rough for my hybrid and I suspected slippery. I carried my bike across. More rocks and roots on the other side. After barely a mile I was almost around. I understood why I had not heard of this trail.

As I approached the dam near where I started the trail passed below the dam. As the trail started down it quickly became quite steep. I applied my brakes without any slowing of the bike. Instead my bike simply became more of a sled as it slid off the loose rocks and leaves. I thought I need to get off the bike. No sooner did I think this than I found myself off the bike by way of a trip over the handlebars. Other than a scuff on my calf and a bigger scuff on my ego there was no serious damage.

Back at the car I started toward my planned ride of the day. As I was driving I was thinking that was the first spill I had on my bike as an adult, not counting a few on ice. I got home and added studded snow tires for my bike to my Christmas list.

Stepping stones to cross creek

Hand Painted Sign
Dam Outflow
Nice Picnic Spot
Leaves hiding the rocks and roots
Dunmore #1

Phone Booths

Many bike paths are along old railroad right of ways, rail-trails. This means there are often remnants of railroad history. One interesting artifact is a concrete phone booth or block phone. These enclosures were placed at the ends of blocks, sections of track. These locations were often where track splits in two directions or just two parallel tracks splitting or combining. These were used starting in the early 1900’s until they were replaced with steel in the 1950. Existing booths continued to be used into the 1980’s.

I have wondered why concrete was chosen to make these booths. Perhaps it was cost or durability but I have not been able to find any information to substantiate that.

I first encountered one of these laying in the brush a few yards off the Black Diamond section of the D & L Trail in PA. Since then, this particular phone booth has been move to a prominent spot adjacent to the trail and set upright. I have seen many additional concrete phone booths along trails, some deteriorated and some restored. Often the restoration is done as an Eagle Scout project.

Interior of restored concrete phone booth along the Ironton Rail-Trail
Partially restored booth along the D&L Trail
Fully restored booth along the Ironton Rail-Trail
Along the Great Allegheny Passage
Along the D&R Canal

Recently uprighted booth along the Black Diamond section of the D&L

First booth I had seen, this has since been set upright

Schuylkill River Trail in Reading, PA.
40.32269, -75.92829 

Robbins Trail

The J. Manley Robbins Trail commonly known as just the Robbins Trail may be the oldest rail-trail in the United States. The Robbins Trail is located just north of Danville, PA. It was originally a narrow gauge line used to haul iron ore. It was converted to a bike path sometime in the 1890’s. The trail is just a mile long and runs along the Mahoning Creek. It does connect to another trail forming a loop of about 3.5 miles. Additional trails connect at the Hess Field Complex.

The Elroy Sparta Trail in Wisconsin claims to be the first rails to trails project in the country. It opened in 1967. I rode the Elroy Sparta Trail in June 2017.

Video of my bike ride on the Robbins Trail

Here is a video of my May 2021 ride on my YouTube channel.