Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

In This Guide
  • How to Get to Delaware Canal State Park
  • Delaware Canal State Park Trail Maps
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions
  • What You Need To Do the Hike
Distance7.2 miles (11.6 km)
Time3 Hours (Total Time)
Total Climbing150 feet (46m)
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park NameDelaware 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. Here’s what I would bring.

My Top Gear Picks

Garmin inreach review

Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:

  1. Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
  2. Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
  3. Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.

I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.

See My Full Gear List

Towpath Hike Trail Maps

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

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

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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.

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