Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Delaware Canal State Park Trail Maps
  • How to Get to Delaware Canal State Park
  • What You Need To Do the Hike
Distance7.2 miles (11.6 km)
Hike Time3 Hours (Total)
DifficultyEasy
Total Ascent (?)40 feet (12m)
Highest Elevation75 feet (23m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park ContactDelaware Canal State Park
Park Phone610-982-5560

This easy hike along the Delaware Canal State Park is full of beauty and history. While this towpath hike isn’t short, it’s dead flat and very easy. As long as you can walk for 2-3 hours, you should be fine. If you want to break the hike in half and have lunch, Stockton, NJ, at the mid-point of the hike, is a great option. Shaded paths, river views, and peace and quiet are the hallmarks of this hike, suitable for all levels of hiker.

I’ve mixed it up a bit on this hike so that you get two perspectives of the river. You will travel in two state parks. The New Hope to Stockton portion is in Pennsylvania’s Delaware Canal State Park. The return trip is in New Jersey’s Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. The trails on this hike were all former railroad tracks, reclaimed with the Rails to Trails program, and you’ll see some relics of the old railroad era as you do the hike.

Historic Train Towpath
Here’s a photo of the first train to New Hope, PA. 29 March, 1891. The Reading Railroad connected New Hope with Hatboro and Philadelphia. You’ll pass the old New Hope station on your hike.

Getting to Delaware Canal State Park

Use this as the trailhead address: 28 West Bridge Street, New Hope, PA, 18938, USA.

The hike starts in downtown New Hope. There are numerous parking options in town, but there is no parking at the trailhead (the lot is private).

Gear for the Hike

You don’t need any special hiking gear to do this hike, and fitness apparel is fine. Just make sure you have some water and maybe snack. There’s a place to buy food, water, or sit down for a meal in the middle of the hike at Stockton, NJ.

In the summer than can be mosquitos and gnats, so take insect repellant.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Good for light and more hardcore hikes. Feels like a sneaker but protects like a hiking boot.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Rei Flash 22

REI Flash 22 Pack

This is a super-light and comfortable backpack that can hold everything you need on a hike, including a hydration bladder. It also works great as a general backpack or carry-on.

See Colors & Prices

Joby On Triee

Joby Smartphone Tripod

Make your photos stand out by using this lightweight, do-anything tripod. The Joby attaches your smartphone to trees, rocks, whatever you can find on the trail. Folds down compactly too.

See the Joby Options

Don’t waster your money on hiking gear that’s no good, I’ve done that for you already! Full HikingGuy Gear List

* No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Also → Big Sale at REI On Now:

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Towpath Hike Trail Maps

Click To View Map

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Here’s what I use to navigate my hikes. I recommend a combination of paper and electronic options with backups.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a planning and navigation tool that you can use on your phone, tablet, and the web. I use it on my phone when I need to interact with the map and know where my position is on it. I use it at home on the computer to plan routes. You can overlay maps such as public lands to find out free places to camp. It’s a powerful tool.

HikingGuy Discount on Gaia GPS

Fenix Nav

Garmin Fenix Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Topo Map

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike.

I also highly recommend taking a map and compass navigation course. It’s a few hours, it’s fun, and it could save your life.

Map and Compass Navigation Basics Classes

Don’t just rely on a cell phone, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike 3d map
The hike heads up the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath trail to Stockton, where it crosses the river. From there, the hike heads back down to Lambertville on the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail.

Towpath Hike Directions

Video Directions

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Turn By Turn Directions

You can also do this hike as a bike ride, but you have to carry your bike up a set of steps. And if you’re hiking it, keep your eyes open for passing bikes.

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
The hike starts on the canal towpath trail, right next to the trailhead address. Head through the parking lot.
new hope and ivyland railroad
Keep heading north on the canal towpath. As you walk, you’ll see the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad across the canal. The line to New Hope opened in 1891, and served as the New Hope branch of the Reading Railroad until it closed in 1952. Today you can take tourist rides on vintage trains there.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
After passing the railroad, the trail becomes sleepy and scenic. The towpath here is in the state it was when mules pulled barges up and down the canal.
River Run bridge
The trail passes under the River Run bridge, which River Road passes over. Continue straight on the towpath under the bridge.
Route 202 Toll Bridge
Shortly after the River Run bridge, you’ll come to the Route 202 Toll Bridge. It’s big and ugly, and was designed to keep through-traffic and trucks out of New Hope and Lambertville. Keep hiking straight on the towpath.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
There’s a clearing under the bridge where you can go down and get closer to the river if you’d like. Much of the area you see here gets flooded when the river sweels. Parts of the towpath have been washed away when the river has flooded over the years.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
After the toll bridge, the towpath quickly gets scenic again. The Delaware Canal is on the National Register of Historic Places is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
Continue straight on the towpath, passing under the bridge at Philips Mill.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
After Philips Mill, you’ll see River Road across the canal. In the 1950s, the state considered paving over the canal to build a roadway.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
The towpath then passes under a bridge to Hal H. Clark Park, an undeveloped Bucks County park with limited primitive trails.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
Another secluded section of towpath end the Pennsylvania section of the hike. Tourist mule barge rides used to come up here from New Hope.
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath
Eventually you come to Centre Bridge, where a bridge crosses the Delaware. Walk up the steps and start crossing the bridge. Originally Reading’s Ferry crossed the river here. In 1814 they built a covered bridge at this spot. The bridge you see here was built in 1926.
stockton bridge
The walkway across the bridge offers great views of the Delaware River.
stockton nj
After the bridge, avoid the first right turn on what looks like it should be the trail. Keep going straight on the street.
Delaware and Raritan Canal
When you reach the old train depot / deli, make the right onto the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail.

If you want to grab a bite or take a break, you have options in Stockton. There is a deli, and a few proper restaurants. Also, if you want to end the hike here, you can take an inexpensive Uber back to New Hope.

Delaware and Raritan Canal
The entrance to the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail towpath is well marked. Start hiking south towards Lambertville.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
The towpath is easy to follow as it makes it’s way behind the houses in Stockton.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
You’ll see remnants of the old railway line on the NJ part of the hike. Unlike the PA towpath, the NJ side was converted to a rail line, which was abandoned in 1977 and then converted to a rail trail. In addition to the mile markers, keep your eyes open for other relics of the old railroad.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
The trail crosses over the canal and continues south.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
The Delaware and Raritan Canal is stocked with trout. During fishing season, you’ll see fisherman on the banks.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
As you continue south, you’ll see an abandoned railroad bridge.
Route 202 Toll Bridge
Eventually the Route 202 Toll Bridge will come back into view. Keep heading southe underneath it.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
Immediately after the Route 202 Toll Bridge, make the left to cross the canal. DO NOT continue straight on this side of the canal.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
Once you cross the little bridge over the canal, make the right and continue south on the other side of the canal. If you were to go straight over this bridge, you would arrive at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum, dedicated to the preservation of Hunterdon County’s agricultural heritage from the 18th into the 20th centuries.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
After crossing the small bridge, the trail is easy to follow.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
The canal crosses Alexauken Creek. The canal bridge also acts as a spillway, allowing the canal to overflow into the creek and not overflow it’s banks.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
This portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail didn’t have railroad tracks and would be similar to the way it was when mules pulled barges.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
Eventually the trail reaches Lambertville, NJ, and winds it’s way behind a lumber yard and it’s iconic Victorian houses.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
Keep heading south on the towpath trail, avoiding any side streets.
Delaware and Raritan Canal trail
When you reach Bridge St. in downtown Lambertville, make the right and hike toward the bridge to New Hope.
Lambertville NJ
Walk on the sidewalk and cross the bridge back into Pennsylvania.
New Hope PA
When you get off the bridge in New Hope, walk up Bridge St. to the canal to return to your starting point.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.