Saturday, April 28, 2018

New Hope Is More Than a Day Trip!

New Hope lies on the west bank of the Delaware River at its confluence with Auqetong Creek, in Bucks County, PA -- about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. It is an old town -- colonial era -- and is located along the route of the Old York Road, the former main highway between Philadelphia and New York City. Because it was the halfway point, its inns and hotels would host travelers overnight, and then they would be ferried across the river the next morning. Lovely old stone homes are common around New Hope, testifying to the town's lengthy history.

From the original settlers, the Lenni-Lenape Indians, to the Dutch and English followed by the Quakers to today’s varied population; New Hope maintains its historic status as a place where diversity is celebrated. New Hope (then, Coryell’s Ferry) is proud of its role in the American Revolution and its 300 years of history, from the early ferry boats, mills and canal boats to the eclectic variety of galleries, shops and restaurants today.

You need more than a single day to explore New Hope! (Which is good, because there are a number of neat bed and breakfast inns and historic inns, such as Logan Inn, right in town or just minutes away.

So what is there to do? Where do I begin? You can dine at one (or several) of the many fine restaurants, or browse the variety of boutique and antique stores and art galleries...

... or tour the historic Parry Mansion ....

 ... or walk or bike along the Delaware Canal towpath ....

Speaking of the Delaware Canal, the 60-mile long Delaware Canal towpath runs from Easton to Bristol and is a National Recreation Trail. Once trod by mule teams pulling cargo-laden boats along the canal, the towpath is used today by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and bird watchers. During our four-mile walk, we encountered dog-walkers galore, joggers, families strolling with little kids, and bikers.

The Delaware Canal runs from the Lehigh River at Easton (home of The National Canal Museum and terminal end of the Lehigh Canal) south to Bristol. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania built the Delaware canal as part of its Main Line of Internal Improvements to carry anthracite coal, limestone, cement, and lumber from the northeastern reaches of Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Spurred by the early success of the Erie Canal in New York State, which had opened in 1825, the Delaware Canal opened in 1832.

What's cool about this canal, beyond its lovely scenery, is that it still has most of its original locks, aqueducts, and overflows. According to the National Park Service, it was the "longest-lived canal in the country."

The segment that flows through the center of New Hope is lovely -- a hidden oasis between town streets and back yards. We walked behind the Parry Mansion and several other historic homes. Once on the south side of town, the canal curled closer to the river, and the mist rising in the early morning coolness created a mysterious, fantastical scenery. And that's when I fell in love with the Delaware Canal.

We were curious about this odd-looking duck, who was swimming with a purpose
toward a group of Canada geese. He's a common merganser.

For most of our walk, we were in easy sight of the Delaware River. In fact, the canal runs parallel to the Delaware River from Easton, where over the years, it transported millions of tons of anthracite from the privately developed Lehigh Canal to the city and port of Philadelphia.

There's just so much to do and see there. Just outside of town are several wineries, Washington's Crossing State Park, a number of picturesque covered bridges, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, and further up county, the under-rated treasure, Ringing Rocks County Park that offers a couple of interesting and pleasant hikes.

Know before you go: Across the Delaware River, the 70-mile long Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal State Park is one of central New Jersey’s most popular recreation corridors for canoeing, jogging, hiking, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding. The canal and park are part of the National Recreation Trail System. Together, the Delaware Canal State Park and the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park have formed a series of looping trails connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using five bridges. By simply parking in one of several areas located along the loop trail, visitors have easy access to the canal towpaths in both states, and can ride, walk or jog a complete loop back to their car. Loop trail connection bridges are in the Pennsylvania towns of Uhlerstown, Lumberville, Center Bridge, Washington Crossing, and Morrisville.

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