- Home - Hiking Trails - Hiking Near Philadelphia Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike
This easy hike along the Delaware Canal State Park is full of beauty and history. Shaded paths, river views, and peace and quiet are the hallmarks of this hike, suitable for all levels of hiker.
7.2 miles (11.6 km)
Marked cinder trails
Views, history, nature
Bathrooms in town
Street and garage parking
Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike Trail Maps
Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
28 West Bridge Street, New Hope, PA, 18938, USA
The trailhead is in New Hope, PA, which is about 1 hour north of Philadelphia and 1 hour west of New York City.
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.
The scale on this graph is deceiving. Aside from waking up some stairs, this hike is dead flat.
Interactive Map Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike Map Downloads Gear for the Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews For my complete gear list and survival kit contents, please check out my post on the modern hiking essentials here. I'd also recommend taking a quick look at the Every day they mark down great quality hiking gear, fitness gear, and clothing. Pick up an inexpensive lifetime REI Outlet site. REI Membership for an extra 10% off. Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike Video Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike Directions What to Expect While the Delaware Canal State Park 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 bail out, you can take an inexpensive Uber from Stockton back to New Hope or Lambertville. You actually 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. If you want to have lunch, Stockton, NJ, at the mid-point of the hike, is a great option. In the summer than can be mosquitos and gnats. Insect repellant is a good idea. 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. Turn by Turn Hike Directions The hike starts on the canal towpath trail, right next to the trailhead address. Head through the parking lot. 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. 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. The trail passes under the River Run bridge, which River Road passes over. Continue straight on the towpath under the 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. 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. 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. Continue straight on the towpath, passing under the bridge at Philips Mill. 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. The towpath then passes under a bridge to Hal H. Clark Park, an undeveloped Bucks County park with limited primitive trails. Another secluded section of towpath end the Pennsylvania section of the hike. Tourist mule barge rides used to come up here from New Hope. 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. The walkway across the bridge offers great views of the Delaware River. After the bridge, avoid the first right turn on what looks like it should be the trail. Keep going straight on the street. 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.
The entrance to the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail towpath is well marked. Start hiking south towards Lambertville. The towpath is easy to follow as it makes it’s way behind the houses in Stockton. 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. The trail crosses over the canal and continues south. The Delaware and Raritan Canal is stocked with trout. During fishing season, you’ll see fisherman on the banks. As you continue south, you’ll see an abandoned railroad bridge. Eventually the Route 202 Toll Bridge will come back into view. Keep heading southe underneath it. Immediately after the Route 202 Toll Bridge, make the left to cross the canal. DO NOT continue straight on this side of the canal. 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. After crossing the small bridge, the trail is easy to follow. 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. 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. Eventually the trail reaches Lambertville, NJ, and winds it’s way behind a lumber yard and it’s iconic Victorian houses. Keep heading south on the towpath trail, avoiding any side streets. When you reach Bridge St. in downtown Lambertville, make the right and hike toward the bridge to New Hope. Walk on the sidewalk and cross the bridge back into Pennsylvania. When you get off the bridge in New Hope, walk up Bridge St. to the canal to return to your starting point. An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail. A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.
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I’m Hiking Guy, aka Cris Hazzard. I like to get outdoors, walk, and then write about it. It wasn’t always like that though.
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