Trail Update

A.T. Reroute Opens in Pennsylvania, Preserving Vistas and Improving Trail Sustainability

June 16, 2022

On Saturday, June 4, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Keystone Trails Association officially opened a 3.25-mile-long relocated section of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) near Palmerton, Pennsylvania. The relocated section begins at the top of Lehigh Gap on the east side of the Lehigh River, and the northern end of the Winter Trail was also relocated to meet the A.T. near its new location. This new section will add roughly 0.2 miles to the Trail’s overall length.

This relocation moves the route of the A.T. along views that are likely to remain as important environmental remediation work in the area continues and the famous “green tunnel” regrows in the area. The relocation route will also need less ongoing maintenance than the former route.

For years, the Palmerton Zinc Pile Superfund Site near Palmerton, Pennsylvania was a virtual wasteland, the soil poisoned by over 80 years of contamination from nearby zinc smelting. After years of restoration work, grass, shrubs, and small trees now grow where there were only barren rocks and soil. As trees begin to grow, the ATC and its partners are working to both increase the sustainability of the footpath and ensure hikers will still have clear views of the landscapes below.

This relocation is only a part of the Trail work planned in the Palmerton area, and additional relocations will be opened in coming years. Hikers should pay special attention to blazing and signs in the area to ensure they are on the correct trail, taking care to avoid the now-closed 2008-2022 route as it goes onto private land. To learn more about this multi-year project, click here.

The ATC thanks the dedicated volunteers who helped make this relocation possible, and for their ongoing work to help ensure the Trail and its one-of-a-kind hiking experience are protected — and enhanced — for future visitors.