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 is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.