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Section of the Appalachian Trail rerouted for a scenic upgrade

Backpacking in Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia
The Appalachian Trail runs for approximately 2200 miles between Georgia and Maine and draws thousands of hikers each year from around the world (Image credit: Getty)

Appalachian Trail hikers have reason to celebrate as a section of the world-famous trail in Pennsylvannia is set to be rerouted to allow hikers to take in the spectacular views of the Lehigh Gorge.

The Appalachian Trail Section Committee of Keystone Trails Association announced the reroute onto the North Trail in eastern Pennsylvania just west of the Lehigh River, approximately three miles southwest of the town of Palmerton, PA. The move, which is the first phase of a larger relocation project of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, will make for a much more scenic journey through the state for the thousands of hikers who spend months in their hiking boots attempting to complete the legendary trail each year. 

Lehigh River runs through the Lehigh Gorge in Pennsylvania

Lehigh Gorge is a deep canyon featuring rock outcroppings and waterfalls in Lehigh Gorge State Park (Image credit: Linda Bielko)

According to the Keystone Trails Association, the Appalachian Trail actually used to follow the North Trail, but was diverted due to environmental damage caused by the former zinc processing plant in Palmerton, which ended in 1980. Now that damage has been largely remediated under the federal Superfund law which grants wide-reaching authority to clean releases of hazardous substances that threaten the environment or public health.

The North Trail is well-known to local hikers for its views of the Lehigh River and stunning Lehigh Gorge, a deep canyon featuring rock outcroppings and waterfalls in Lehigh Gorge State Park, and now AT thru-hikers won’t need to leave the trail to experience it. The current route will be kept open and maintained to sustain the North Trail/Appalachian Trail loop favored by day hikers. 

The project is part of a larger relocation project of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. The Appalachian Trail runs for approximately 2200 miles between Georgia and Maine and draws thousands of hikers each year from around the world. Pennsylvania hosts 229 miles of the trail which takes hikers across varied terrain, from rocky scrambles to meandering flat sections and a stop at the Appalachian Trail museum.  

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.