Lehigh River Water Trail

81.49 Miles
Carbon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton

Trail Description

The size of the Lehigh River and the releases from the Francis E. Walter Dam make the river navigable in some way most days of the year. There are exceptions, however, particularly in the northern section of the Water Trail (above the Lehigh Gap), which should be monitored carefully in conditions of high flow. The northern section of the Water Trail where it passes through the Lehigh Gorge State Park contains Class II and III rapids requiring considerable expertise. It is not permitted for open canoes to float through this reach without special flotation devices installed in your boat. Nonetheless, some of the most exciting canoeing, rafting, and kayaking in the East is found here. The southern section is generally more subdued, but has some exciting rapids interspersed within its slower sections. Remember, however, that due to intermittent water releases from the Francis E. Walter Dam, the water flow can be higher than recent rain activity would seem to indicate it should be. On the other hand, extreme drought conditions don’t usually halt navigation; it only makes the boater’s course more meandering. There is truly something for everyone here – the expert looking for adventure and the novice paddling family looking for a gentle ride. Paddling when air temperatures are below 55° Fahrenheit is unsafe. PFDs should be worn by all occupants at all times. There are several river outfitters and river guides in the Lehigh River valley, mostly in the northern section. Contact the regional tourist promotion agencies for a current list of outfitters. Many of these operators can also provide helpful information on current river conditions. Some access points are primitive and suitable only for canoes and other car-top boats.

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