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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crowded weekend on the Lehigh

It was crowded on the Lehigh River Saturday.  Imagine that, eh?

Comfortable temperatures and cumulus clouds that decorated the bright blue sky made for a near-perfect day for anything, including exploring the river by raft, kayak or canoe. The dozen or so rafters and kayakers from the Lancaster Canoe Club bounced along between the huge tour company crowds, dodging rocks and navigating the class two and three rapids.

You can't keep a good thing a secret.

Rafters ranged from adorable and drenched six year olds to us old folks. The Lehigh rapids aren't as exciting as the Youghigheny or Cheat Rivers, but on days like this, just a fun family float on the river cools off those rafters who were cooked from July's heat.

The Lehigh Gorge State Park is about about midway between Allentown and Wilkes-Barre, or Jim Thorpe, the home of everything outdoors.

 Jim Thorpe, Pa., is a quaint little town stuck in the middle of the rolling Pennsylvania mountains, about the size of Dallastown. The town is named for the famous Olympic athlete, and it's in his town that he could climb, run, swim, golf, bike and hike until even he was exhausted.

Bring the bikes and pedal along the 26-mile D&L Trail, the Lehigh Canal North trail, or the 18-mile Switchback Railroad Trail.  The D&L Trail parallels the river, and paddlers and bikers can easily see each other along their trips. A quick toe-dip in the river quickly cools a hot weather biker. At least six whitewater rafting companies offer guided or unguided trips along the river, including Adventure Rafting, Whitewater Rafting Adventures and Jim Thorpe River Adventures.

Jim Thorpe is known for its rock walls, so maybe try rock climbing.

Take a one-hour ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, visit some antique shops, or take a guided tour through town.
For a small town, there are places to stay, because in or close to Jim Thorpe are plenty of rooms, from quaint and friendly bed and breakfasts to big chain hotels.

In 2007, Jim Thorpe was named one of the Top Ten mountain towns in the United States by National Geographic Adventure.

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